History of Taylor Square

Taylor Square late 1978

Oxford Street is the major commercial street of Darlinghurst, running from Hyde Park, through to Taylor Square and beyond through to Paddington, Woollahra and Bondi Junction. It was a toll road in its early years with the toll gates being located near present day Glenmore Road. Oxford Street assumed its current name in 1875. In recent years it has become reknowned for its annual Gay Mardi Gras.

Taylor Square is rich in history, I will write about the Razor gangs that roamed the area in a later post. It is surrounded by the suburbs of Paddington, Darlinghurst, Kings Cross and Surry Hills. Historical buildings include; National Art School (East Sydney Technical College and formerly Darlinghurst Gaol,) Victoria Barracks, SCEGGS, Darlinghurst Court House and St Vincents Hospital .

In the early '60s The Odeon or West's Theatre (cnr. Oxford and South Dowling Streets), was a regular meeting place for youngsters of the surrounding suburbs. During interval we were entertained by Talent Quests, Yo Yo championships and 'what not'. In the late 1960s, The Odeon was transformed into 'The Mandala Theatre' - showing predominantly underground movies: Fellini's '8 1/2', 'Juliet of the Spirits' and 'Satyricon'. And, an the hilarious x-rated cartoon 'Fritz the Cat'. Live entertainment was presented by Tully (Sea of Joy) and others I can't recall at this point in time.

'August 1969 was another important month for Tully -- Fusions premiered on ABC on August 1, and on August 17 Tully headlined a (Harry M. Miller-produced) concert at Sydney Town Hall, supported by the John Sangster Quintet and The Executives. A similar show at the Mandala Theatre was also a success ... Milesago '

In the late '60s Oxford Street became akin to Haight-Ashby with hippies wandering up and down, blues and jug band music drifting from the numerous wine bars and pubs. One could detect the scent of stained leather wafting from Frank's Cafe, Indian clothing, trinkets and paraphenalia were displayed for purchase in import stores. The store with vats of real yoghurt 'chock a block' with fresh chunky fruit pieces opposite the Mandala certainly was missed as the plastic yoghurts flooded the supermarkets.

The punks replaced the hippies in the mid '70s, the gays replaced the punks and in the present (2008) Oxford Street is still a haven for 'crime and drugs'.

“Are we there yet?” .. My first recollection of Taylor Square was as a youngster, shopping with my mother .. Winns and Buckinghams. I recall the old shuttle lay-by system, the shop assistant very smartly dressed I might add. Diligently, she would 'tuck' our money into a cylinder, watching as it  trolleyed off to 'heaven' and return with docket and change!
After the harrowing experience chore of 'trying on' dresses, my mother took us to the  Paris Theatre, opposite Hyde Park. I vividly recall having to leave in a hurry as my brother screamed and screamed during the 'the rat' sequence in Lady and the Tramp.


  1. Hi, I'm here trying to find my way around. Thanks for your help. Do you know how to get the photo in the title in the middle and move the title to where you want it?

    My mum used to work in Darlinghurst in the 50's at the Receptiom house -mental hospital. She was a nurse there and had many funny stories to bring home.

  2. Anonymous23:08

    My friend's favourite bar - The Judgement Bar - is in The Courthouse. She would drag me along to play the jukebox and spy on whichever bartender she had a crush on at the time. She was a nightowl and it being open 24 hrs suited her well!

  3. Hi Diane,
    I do my photo and title in my photo program then it is to my liking I then just bring it in as an image ..
    I remember the Mental Hospital in Darlinghurst - Caratas I think.

    Miss Lyss,
    It's a wonder the whole place hasn't fallen down, the floor use to bounce when we danced ..