Local history fast facts - V

This information has been provided by the Local History Centre and the Woollahra History and Heritage Society.


VALETTA - A weatherboard house on a 13/4 acre site on the corner of Moore Street and Gladstone Street (now Hopetoun Avenue), Watsons Bay - the house straddled today's Beach Avenue - from the 1870s to the early 1900s. It was occupied for a time by Mr R.R. Bligh and a Mrs Taylor.

VAUCLUSE - The suburb of the Woollahra Municipality. The name is derived from the village in Provence, France, Fontaine de Vaucluse to which the Italian poet Petrarch retreated in 1337 - suffering from a distant amorous relationship with a 'Laura' and disenchantment with secular society, The name came from the Latin Vailis clausa, a closed valley and bestowed by Sir Henry Browne Hayes to the property, an amalgamation of the Laycock and Cardell grants which he 'bought' in 1803, building a cottage nearby and left in 1812.

VAUCLUSE BEACH - The Beach is unique in that it is the only one in the Municipality which is intact in that the stream entering it has not been altered by drainage works nor has the beach front been changed through land fill or retaining walls - it looks much like it did before urban development took place. Bordering the stream there are sandstone walls which would have supported a wooden bridge carrying traffic along 'Lower Vaucluse Road' and over the stream before the present Wentworth Road was put in place.

VAUCLUSE HIGH SCHOOL - Laguna St, Vaucluse. Opened as a boy's school on February 2, 1960, eventually becoming coeducational. Motto: Lumen Scientiae (Light of Learning). Colours: Royal Blue, Gold and White.

VAUCLUSE HOUSE - Wentworth Road. The house as seen today was built between 1827 and the late 1830's by William Charles Wentworth incorporating the original cottage built in 1803 by Sir Henry Browne Hayes the house was never finished. Wentwodh left for England in 1853 and sold up all his personal effects returning only once in 1860-61 - after that, family members and tenants occupied the house. Significant buildings include the stables built around the same time incorporate some of the first Gothic styling in the colony (Cookney, architect) and the laundry - the convict barracks stood on the hillside north east of and above the stables but were demolished in 1917 when Olola Avenue was put through. The property was acquired by the N.S.W. Government in 1910 administered by the Nielsen-Vaucluse House Trust coming under the control of the Historic Houses Trust in 1980.

VAUCLUSE MUNICIPALITY - Following a successful petition from residents of Vaucluse and Watsons Bay to separate from the municipality of Woollahra in 1894, a new local government area known as the Borough of Vaucluse was proclaimed on 1 April 1895. The new borough extended northwards from a boundary with the Woollahra municipality formed by Bay View Hill and Towns Roads. The first meeting of the new borough council was held on 20 May 1895 with Albert Jones, a former alderman of Woollahra Council, elected its first mayor. Meetings were held at the Gap Hotel until a new purpose built chambers was erected on the same site, 17 Military Road, Watsons Bay, in 1910. The term municipality rather than borough was adopted in 1906.

With the NSW State Government's commitment to reducing the number of Local Government areas the municipality of Vaucluse was dissolved in December 1948 and the municipality of Woollahra was reconstituted comprising the former municipalities of Woollahra and Vaucluse from 1 January 1949. The last ordinary meeting of Vaucluse Council was held at Dunbar House on 13 December 1948.

VAUCLUSE PUBLIC SCHOOL - Cambridge Ave, Vaucluse. The school began on the site of the old Watsons Bay School in 1877 being preceded by the 1858 'South Head School'. The present school opened in 1925. Motto: 'Be Thorough'. Colours: Royal and mid Blue and Gold.

VAUCLUSE TOWN HALL - The building at 17 Military Road, Watsons Bay, was designed by architect Varney Parkes, and officially opened as a Town Hall and Council Offices on 20 April 1910. The upper level hall subsequently saw use as a picture theatre - Rivoli, Rex, Village and Watsons Bay Theatre. The Council moved into Dunbar House in 1924.

VAUCLUSE UNITING CHURCH - Russell St, Watsons Bay. Established in 1839 as the South Head Independent Chapel, on South Head Road (now No. 212-14) - the 'Church with the Chimney'. A Mission Hall known as the 'Watsons Bay and South Head Congregational Church' was built on the corner of Robertson Place and Dunbar Street (the Tin Tabernacle) in 1891. The present church hall in Russell Street served as a church from 1909, until the present Church was built in 1960.

VAUCLUSE WAR MEMORIAL - An initiative of the Vaucluse Progress Association who built the memorial at the corner of Fitzwilliam and Wentworth Roads, Vaucluse. The memorial, a 12m high white painted flagpole on a sandstone base flanked by 75 mm bore canons, was dedicated on 26 October 1918. The governor of NSW, Sir Walter Davidson unfurled the flag and dedicated the Memory Drive, a planned avenue of trees. The plaque at the base of the memorial is inscribed 'A grateful tribute to the gallant men who fought for us in the Great War'.

VICTOR MOTOR WORKS - Stafford Street, Double Bay. The plant on the foreshore of Double Bay manufactured the Victor marine engine for island trading vessels and did occasional repairs for shipping and jobbing work in the general engineering field as well as manufacturing equipment for commercial and industrial refrigeration. The company closed down operation at Double Bay in 1936 and moved to Alexandria. The Art Deco unit blocks 18 to 26 Stafford were erected on the site.

VILLAGE AT VAUCLUSE - In 1838, William Charles Wentworth planned a sub-division of his Estate incorporating a design for a village, roughly on the original Cardell grant of 25 acres which was located on the foreshore, the northern half of the area between Parsley Bay and Gibsons Beach The 'village' centre would have been a 'square' near the present day junction of Cambridge and Hopetoun Avenues with cross streets named Petrarch and Laura perpetuating the 14th century romantic association. However the village did not eventuate and the present alignment of streets bear little resemblance to his plan except for Cambridge Avenue and Village High Road - the latter planned as the main road into the village.

VILLA D'ESTE - 1A Victoria Rd, Bellevue Hill. Two storey house built on the site of 'Cranbrook Cottage' in 1937 and designed by F. Glen Gilling.

VIVIAN STREET, Belleuve Hill - was originally known as Balfour Street but renamed in 1912 after Charles A. Vivian, Town Clerk of Woollahra from 1883 to 1920.