Casey & Lowe were engaged by Sydney Water to undertake the recording of the site’s non-indigenous archaeology, with Jo McDonald Cultural Heritage Management Pty Ltd undertaking the Aboriginal archaeological testing and sampling. This report presents the results of the non-indigenous archaeological program. The archaeological program was undertaken in two stages:
- Archaeological Testing from 17 to 19 March 2004
- Archaeological Sampling from 30 August to 1 September 2004
The study area is located on the northwest corner of Smith and Darcy Streets, Parramatta. Smith Street had been known in the late 19th and early 20th-centuries as Taylor Street. The site was occupied by late 19th -century houses and 20th-century commercial buildings. These were demolished prior to the commencement of the archaeological program, with archaeological monitoring taking place during the removal of concrete ground slabs. The site was redeveloped by Sydney Water as their new headquarters.
The study area was part of land granted in 1799 to Dr William D’Arcy Wentworth, an early assistant surgeon at Parramatta Hospital who was also resident surgeon at the ‘Rum’ hospital. Following William D’Arcy Wentworth’s death in July 1827, the land passed to his son William Charles Wentworth. After WC Wentworth’s death in 1872, the land was subdivided and offered for auction on 3 June 1873.
Following this subdivision, the study area consisted of five house blocks, numbers 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 Smith Street (also known as Taylor Street). All these house blocks, except 1 Smith Street, were initially owned by the builder George Coates. A timber house was built on no. 1 Smith Street in the mid-1870s and stood until around 1927, when it was demolished and replaced by a new structure facing Darcy Street. A semi-detached house was built on nos. 3-5 Smith Street, and had a variety of residents.
The non-indigenous archaeological program at 1 Smith Street identified remains associated with the former houses at 1, 3 and 5 Smith Street. This archaeological program involved archaeological testing followed by a program of sampling. Testing in the yard and house area of demolished houses along Smith Street and yards of properties fronting Darcy Street focused on ascertaining whether substantial archaeological remains were present. This testing indicated that few deposits or features were likely although three brick beehive water cisterns were found at the rear of three of the houses at 1, 3, and 5 Smith Street.
During the archaeological sampling the cistern at 5 Smith Street was found to be backfilled with a large deposit of domestic refuse. These artefacts were ‘domestic’ in nature as well as representing a group typically found in the laundry and/or shed. This rubbish dump was probably put into the cistern as late as the early 1930s. Due to the high turnover of residents at 5 Smith Street these artefacts could not be definitely associated with any identifiable person or family. Archaeological deposits dating from the early 20th century are rarely found on urban archaeological sites, especially those in the Sydney CBD, due to municipal rubbish collection which allows people to dispose of goods outside their own properties.
Casey & Lowe undertook this excavation for Sydney Water.
The excavation photographs used in this report were taken by Tony Lowe. All site plans were drawn by Franz Reidel and computer plans were produced by Tim Adams. Other photographs and plans in the attached report are from the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW, NSW Land Titles Office (now NSW LPI), and the NSW Railway Archives. Several Sydney Water staff contributed to the successful completion of the fieldwork program and the subsequent report-writing phase. They were MacLaren North, Don Wimalaratne and Craig Heitmann.