In the wake of World War II, Australia’s population soared, due in part to a drive by the government that saw 2 million immigrants arrive between 1945 and 1965.

With housing in high demand, suburbs like Darling Point were transformed from the 1950s as a development and construction boom took over Sydney.

The post-war housing shortage

It wasn’t just an increase in the number of people that caused a housing shortage in Sydney in the post-war era. Residential construction had stopped in the war years and building materials were in short supply.

During the war, the Landlord and Tenant (Amendment) Act 1941 discouraged investment in rental housing, further adding to the housing squeeze once the war ended.

By 1947, the housing crisis was so severe that three ex-servicemen and their families resorted to squatting in Greenoaks Cottage. Something needed to be done.

Darling Point mansions make way for flats

In July 1954 a brief article in a newspaper called Construction noted that a five-floor block of flats had recently been completed on Darling Point Rd. The article stated that the building was “one of the largest recent developments in the district”. The transformation of Darling Point had begun.

As the decade progressed, the path towards Darling Point’s high-rise apartment blocks became increasingly clear. The suburb’s old mansions, their glory days behind them, caught the eye of developers as Sydney was scoured for places to accommodate the growing population.

Woollahra Municipal Council began approving subdivision plans, leading to the sell-off of some mansions. These were subsequently demolished, and over the next decade some of Darling Point’s iconic apartment buildings took their place. One was Glenhurst Gardens.

Glenhurst Gardens

In 1878, solicitor George Evans built a family home, Glenhurst, on Yarranabbe Rd. After Evans’ death, the house and land passed through numerous hands, eventually landing with the Stuart family.

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By the 1950s the Suart family had decided to sell. Unlike today, large harbourside homes weren’t in high demand at the time, and the house was passed in at auction. So the Stuart family, being in construction, decided to demolish the house and build flats to cash in on the decade’s housing demand. Glenhurst Gardens was born.

Earlier this year, buyers were given a unique glimpse into 1950s life at Glenhurst Gardens. The apartment of resident Nan Kearins, who died at the age of 101, came up for sale. She had kept her two-bedroom apartment on the seventh floor of Glenhurst Gardens in original 1950s condition, right down to the pink-tiled bathroom and classic mid-century décor. The proceeds of the sale went to the hospital she had worked at.

Darling Point flats in the news

Darling Point flats sometimes made the news in the 1950s – not necessarily for the right reasons. One flat on Mona Rd was the scene of a murder in June 1952, a so-called “crime of passion” by a man who lived at Roslyn Gardens, Elizabeth Bay.

Another flat, this time on New South Head Rd, was also the scene of a crime in 1950 when a woman shot a man with the intent to kill him.

In August 1954, a man-made a lucky escape from his third-floor Yarranabbe Rd flat when a blaze took hold in the middle of the night. He ran through the flames to escape to the street below.

Building into the 1960s

The Darling Point building boom started in the 1950s but continued into the 60s and 70s with the landscape of Darling Point transformed into the suburb we know today.

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