Your Street History: Joynton Avenue

December 3rd, 2018 - by Brad Gillespie

Joynton Avenue Zetland is a location that epitomises convenience and lifestyle.

The leafy, apartment-lined street is close to transport like Green Square Station, as well as shopping like East Village. On weekends, The Grounds of Alexandria and The Cannery are just a fifteen-minute walk away.

The area is fantastic for raising kids with playgrounds and parks nearby such as Tote Park and childcare facilities within an arms’ reach.

But it hasn’t always been like this. While everything looks shiny and new, the street is rich with history. Here are some details about its industrial past.


A few centuries ago the topography of Zetland was very different to what it was today. In fact, before European settlement, the suburb was part of a vast sand dune system covered by heath, low scrub, creeks and freshwater wetlands.

This was an optimal habitat for birds, fish and eels and consequently a prosperous hunting ground for the Gadigal People, who populated the region.

In 1823 Zetland was part of a land grant to former convict and public servant William Hutchinson. Through sales and subdivisions, it became part of Daniel Cooper’s Estate.

The suburb got its name from Sir Hercules Robinson the NSW Governor from 1872-79. Robinson was related to the Earl of Zetland and named his Waterloo property after him. In 1874, Robinson built Zetland Lodge a horse training stable on Bourke and Elizabeth Street that was one of the first in metropolitan Sydney.

The Street Name

In 1908, Sir James John Joynton Smith, a hotelier, politician and newspaper owner opened the Victoria Park Racecourse, which operated from 1908-1942. It occupied the land bound by O’Dea Avenue, Joynton Avenue, Epsom Road and Downing Street.

He was a colourful personality, a socialite and practical joker, who had entrepreneurial and philanthropic streaks. Joynton Avenue was named after him.

The Racecourse

The track was a venue for horse, pony and car racing. It was also the site of one of Australia’s first aeroplane flights in 1909. During WWII, the racecourse was used by the military. Following its closure, the British Motor Corporation (BMC) manufactured cars on site between 1950s and 1975.

In 1997, the site was redeveloped as a residential and commercial precinct.


Thanks to its abundant water supply Zetland was home to many industries from the 19th Century. This included foundries, chemical works, car manufacturers and breweries.

In the 1970s manufacturing in the area declined, and expanded into other suburbs or overseas.


In 1997, Landcom the NSW Government’s property developer bought the site in order to revitalise it.

Significant Buildings

Former Joseph Lucas Office Stairs and Showroom

146-158 Joynton Avenue

Joseph Lucas was a British lamp manufacturer in the mid-19th Century. In 1897, his company Joseph Lucas Ltd became a public company, and expanded into the then-nascent industry of manufacturing automotive parts and accessories.

The company continued to grow, to the extent that by 1975 a third of all cars around the world were fitted with breaks from their factories or one of their licensees.

In 1951 Joseph Lucas Ltd announced their intention to establish a Sydney presence. In 1955, the showroom, workshop and office of the company were built on a portion of the site, which was the former race course.

From the 1970s the site was occupied by Larke Hoskins but in 2016 it was sold to Suttons Motors Group.

The building is of local heritage significance thanks to its history and structure. It features typical architectural elements of post-war international style including a flat roof, curved corner, visible concrete frame and contrasting horizontal and vertical motifs.

Former Victoria Park Racecourse Group

100-106A Joynton Avenue

Very little remains of the landmark racecourse, which was once a major attraction in Zetland. Today two multi-residential developments have been erected in its place: Wolseley Grove and Austin Grove.

However, the totalisator building, which serves as Landcom’s office, is still in place. The three-storey building was constructed between the two world wars and has dark brickwork with cream, stucco rendering. The façade facing the former racecourses has five bays of betting windows at ground level and a large deck on the first level. Once Landcom have completed their work in the area, the building will be reused as a community centre.

Horse Trough

Elizabeth Street and Joynton Avenue

On the corner of Elizabeth Street and Joynton Avenue sits an odd looking object that looks like a rectangular tombstone. Not to worry, there is no one buried underneath. This is in fact a horse trough donated to the area by Annis and George Bills, in the 1930s.

The duo were concerned with animal welfare and 7,000 of these troughs were erected thanks to their legacy. However, only the location of 50 of them is known. This trough serves as a reminder of the days when horses were the main form of transport.

Royal South Sydney Hospital Group

3 Joynton Avenue

In 1909, the State Governor of NSW, Lord Chelmsford, laid the first stone for the Royal South Sydney Hospital. The two-acre site underneath it was donated by Cooper from his estate and funding from the hospital came from government and community donations, including the nearby Victoria Park Racing Club.

In 1913, the hospital opened and operated until 1993. The remaining buildings are representative of various architectural styles. The Administrative Building was built in the Queen Anne fashion of construction, while the Outpatients Building and Nurses’ Quarters were built in the Inter-War Georgian revival style.

Today, the Outpatient Building has been reworked into the Waranara Early Education Centre, a light-filled and colourful childcare. The roof cowls have been reused as skylights, while the offices are now playrooms.

The Nurses’ Quarters later became the Esme Cahill Building. This has been transformed into the Joynton Avenue Creative Centre by Peter Stutchbury Architects. The structure was awarded several architectural prizes. The Creative Centre works with the community and creative sector, helping local artists and businesses.

If you want to find out more about buying or selling on Joynton Avenue contact our team today.

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