Casey & Lowe were commissioned by Walker Corporation to undertake the historical archaeological investigations at 4&6PS Darcy Street Parramatta, at 12-38 Darcy Street and 1A-1C Civic Place Parramatta. The archaeological resource of the site was assessed as being of local heritage significance. These preliminary results relate to the excavation undertaken by Casey & Lowe from 10 October 2016 to 20 June 2017.
A program of excavation was undertaken across the study area in order to salvage any remaining archaeological resource of local significance. The main historical phases and archaeological remains identified within the study area were the late 19th-century semi-detached terraces with associated cesspits, and isolated features, bulk levelling fills and rubbish pits from the early to mid-20th century. The footings of the terraces had been sealed by the later concrete slab floors of the shops fronting Darcy Street, while the cesspits to the rear had been covered by the later yard surfaces and asphalt surface of the southern part of Civic Place
The archaeological excavation program was conducted across the site facilitated by the use of 5-tonne, 8-tonne and 14-tonne excavators to remove existing concrete slabs, beams, piers, asphalt layers and 20th-century fills. Manual excavation was then undertaken by trained archaeologists.
Pond & Town Drain
Evidence for the two ponds shown on the 1858 plan was found in Areas M and S within the library footprint and Civic Place roadway; the ponds had been backfilled with heavy plastic clays. It was anticipated that a small section of the Town Drain would survive in the northwest corner of the 4&6 PS study area. Investigation in this area was delayed until June 2017, when the electrical substation was turned off. During preliminary work in this area it became clear that the ground on the north and east side of the substation was heavily contaminated with asbestos and extensive archaeological investigation was not possible. It can be inferred that the Town Drain did survive in 4&6 PS from the alignment of the recorded sections of the drain structure in 8PS.
- 1799 – D’Arcy Wentworth given lease for 14 years of 6 acres 20 rods on the east side of the main road leading to Sydney in the town of Parramatta Lieutenant John Piper was given a lease for 14 years, which was later acquired by Wentworth in 1803.
- 1804 – The study area shown as vacant land, part of Wentworth’ lease.
- 1823 – The study area is still shown as vacant land, buildings are shown within the Market Place and fronting Macquarie Street.
- 1827 – D’Arcy Wentworth dies leaving various properties to his son William Charles Wentworth including dwelling houses and premises on the 31 acres, then occupied by ‘Mr Bucknell’.
- 1840 – The Town Drain is built within an existing creek line. A small section of the drain and earlier creek line were present across the northwest corner of the study area.
- 1844 – Brownrigg’s Map of Parramatta showed that a series of buildings had been erected on Wentworth’s land along Argyle Street.
- 1861 – William Charles Wentworth conveyed the land for the railway to the Commissioners for Railways. A plan of 1858 showed the nearby buildings on Wentworth’s grant to be resumed for the railway line (Figure 2.1). The rear yards and outbuildings of these buildings were located within the study area. The southern part of two ponds appear along the northern boundary of the study area
- 1873 – After the death of W C Wentworth the Wentworth Estate was subdivided and sold. It had been subdivided into 73 allotments.Within the study area, the auction plan showed the new alignment of Darcy Street replacing the eastern section of Argyle Street. There are no buildings shown on any of the lots at this time.
- 1880s – The study area is shown to have been redeveloped, with five pairs of semi-detached terraces, a single house and a large commercial structure fronting Darcy Street shown on the 1895 plan (Figure 2.2).
- 1930s – Terraces still fronting Darcy Street, a number of large sheds or outbuildings have been constructed at the rear of the properties.
- 1958 – Parramatta Library with basement in eastern third of structure built between 1958 and 1964.
- 1960s – Council’s main administrative building with basement carpark built at 30 Darcy Street.
- 2016 – All buildings in the study area demolished for redevelopment.