FLASHBACK: Irish Town

RANDWICK: Throughout Randwick’s history numerous small settlements, sometimes popularly known as “tin towns”, had arisen in response to various social and economic forces. Few, if any, records are available concerning them but they have lived on in our popular memory.

The first of these settlements was known as Irish Town, apparently because of its high proportion of Irish Catholic labourers (“rockchoppers”). They earned a quarryman’s wages to dig, cut and haul the local sandstone used in building the village’s grand homes. According to some sources the town’s dwellings consisted of “slabs, weatherboards, sheets of metal or other inferior materials”. The rude huts have often (incorrectly) been located by later generations at the cross roads of St Pauls Street and Perouse Road (now known as “The Spot”.) The only official mention located so far is a brief description in an 1875 Sewage and Health Board Enquiry from which it appears that Irish Town was located somewhere between Perouse Road and the Asylum for Destitute Children (now Prince of Wales Hospital.) There has been confusion when identifying Irish Town and the adjoining “Struggletown” which is generally acknowledged to have been situated between St Pauls Street and Barker Street. Having said which, “Struggletown” was also a term often used to describe Randwick as a whole.

Makeshift though its dwellings were, Irish Town would survive for some thirty years in south Randwick.

Robert Booth


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