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A pocket park with a sense of history

Article image - A pocket park with a sense of history A watercolour painting by Conrad Martens of Rosebank Villa in 1840 (photo supplied by Dixson Galleries, State Library of NSW). A secluded pocket park in Sydney’s Darlinghurst is soon to be christened Rosebank Park, after a grand estate that stood on the same site almost 180 years ago.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore MP said the 640-square metre park, built over an underground car park off Farrell Avenue in 1976, was joining a vast network of 255 small parks and playgrounds dotted across the city’s 26-square kilometre footprint.

Since 2006, the City has spent $8 million upgrading 40 pocket parks, converting them into mini-treasures for local families and children. Another $20 million will be spent on a refurbishing program over the next decade.

“The City of Sydney is home to some of the highest urban density in Australia, which means our network of pockets parks is vital for local residents looking for open space,” the Lord Mayor said. “Rosebank Park has a lush green lawn and gardens and is something of a secret sanctuary.”

The name Rosebank is steeped in the past, as it was the title of the large estate originally home to Scotsman James Laidley, an economic administrator who helped the colony through economic hardship and ongoing food shortages in the 1830s.

Laidley was granted five acres of land on ‘Woolloomooloo Hill’ in 1827, where he built the 17-room Rosebank Villa and lived with his wife and eight children.

The extensive grounds of the Rosebank Estate were subdivided for sale in the 1870s, and the villa later became a high-class school for young ladies, before it was eventually demolished in the early 1920s.

The name Rosebank Park will help link this site to its heritage, and make it easier for local residents and visitors to find and enjoy.

The City will create a new sign to be installed in the pocket park as part of a three-month project to further refurbish the site with a new seat and 200 attractive new flowering plants, including Indigenous lomandra (basket grass) and dianella (flax lilies).

The local community strongly supported naming Rosebank Park during a public exhibition and, once Council endorses the new name, it will be forwarded to the Geographic Names Board for approval, which is expected by August 2012.