A Short History of Paddington

Paddington is one of Sydney’s most sought after and interesting suburbs. Filled with mixed matched terrace houses, long narrow streets and trees its is no wonder why it has stayed on the map for so long. We are located on the border of Woollahra and Paddington, and have completed a number of projects in its streets. It is from completing these projects, that we have learnt about its rich history. Today, we are going to delve into the short but fascinating history of Paddington, New South Wales.

Paddington’s six historical chapters
  • Aboriginal Ownership by the Eora People
  • Early White Settlement Begins (From 1788)
  • Rural Village becomes a Municipality (From 1840)
  • The Commencement of the Victorian suburb (From 1870)
  • A 20th Century Slum (From 1930)
  • A Gentrified Suburb that we know today (From 1960)

Once white settlement commenced and the rural village was establishing its-self, Paddington was divided up into thirteen parcels of land. These parcels were given to the local offical’s, one of which was given to James Underwood. After construction of a distillery, in 1839 James subdivided the land ‘Paddington Estate’ and as such, Paddington was born.

From 1840 we see the increase in industries. It wasn’t until the construction of the Victoria Barracks in this decade that the ‘Municipality’ of Paddington really emerged.

By the 1870’s these huge parcels of land begun to be subdivided once again and turned into residential and commercial lots for development. Following this, we have the Boom Period, where the majority of the building stock was constructed. We see this today in the details of the Victorian Terrace’s that line the streets.

Sadly, around 1910 terraces fell out of fashion and the area became a slum. The residents of this time only stayed in the homes for short periods of time. Following World War II however, people began to move back and start restoring the decaying terraces.


Image Sourced. Paddington c. 1900, no. 7 West Street, off Oxford Street.


In 1974, thanks to a growing heritage movement that started in the 60’s, Paddington was listed as a suburb of unique heritage significance when the National Trust of Australia classified the entire suburb as am Urban Conservation Area!


Some of our most treasured projects have taken place in Paddington. Including All Good Things and Paddington Terrace. For more historical inspiration follow us on Instagram @rotharchitecture.