Dictionary of Sydney

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Situated west of the Spit Bridge, Seaforth, in the municipality of Manly, is known for its scenic views over The Spit and Middle Harbour. The Seaforth estate was subdivided by Henry Halloran, a developer who held his first auctions there in November 1906. Halloran originally intended to call it the Balfour estate, after the British prime minister, but his wife suggested the name Seaforth, which he adopted.

Until Seaforth developed, its sheltered beaches were popular with camping and picnic parties. Jacaranda trees were planted in 1905, their purple flowers contrasting with brilliant scarlet corals along Alan Avenue. Peach Tree Bay, Pine Point and Parsley Bay speak for themselves. Seaforth Crescent gives a scenic drive from the main road around Bluff Head to Powder Hulk Bay, so named because hulks storing gunpowder were moored there from 1878 to 1919.

Adjoining the Seaforth estate is the Bluff estate, named because of the steep cliff face on the foreshore. The estate was sold by auction on 6 February 1909, in unusual circumstances. Prospective buyers were invited on a trip round Middle Harbour on the Lady Rawson, with a band provided and light refreshments – all for 3d. Each allotment had its number on it in large figures and the vessel stopped opposite each lot as it was offered.

Undercliffe Beach, named after a house on the eastern side of the Manly approach to the Spit Bridge, no longer exists, having been reclaimed as part of the construction of the electric tramway from The Spit to Manly in 1910.

Dalwood Home in Seaforth was once owned by Theodore Gurney (1849–1918), the second professor of mathematics and natural philosophy at the University of Sydney from 1877. He held the chair for over 25 years, but was criticised for conducting virtually no research. [1] Gurney Crescent is named after him. In 1928 Dalwood was given by its owner, estate agent AE Dalwood, to a charity, the Food for Babies Fund, to be used as a temporary home for children whose mothers needed to recuperate. In 1932 Dalwood was incorporated as a public hospital, and thereafter took in children in need of care because of family circumstances. Since 1992 it has operated under the auspices of Manly Hospital. [2]

On the crown of the hill is the old stone church of St Paul, Seaforth. This little church is the oldest standing in the Manly area, other than the Manly Congregational Church. The foundation stone was laid by Jane Barker, wife of the Bishop of Sydney, in the presence of more than 250 people, on 30 August 1873. The church, seating 92, was opened on 5 September 1875.

The Balgowlah/Seaforth library was originally a one-room schoolhouse, built in 1893. It served as the local school until 1940, when Seaforth Public School was built. Since 1945, it has been operated as a library by a dedicated group of volunteers. Part of the original school site was transferred in 1952 to the Technical Education branch of the Department of Education, for the construction of Seaforth Technical College, which operated as Seaforth TAFE from 1984 to 1999.


Shelagh and George Champion, Manly, Warringah and Pittwater, 1850-1880, the authors, Killarney Heights, NSW, 1997

Henry F Halloran Co, Seaforth, 1906 prospectus

Mc Ateer, Brian, Seaforth, the Naming of a Suburb (forthcoming)


[1] IS Turner, 'Gurney, Theodore Thomas (1849–1918)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol 4, Melbourne University Press, 1972, pp 309–310, http://www.adb.online.anu.edu.au/biogs/A040352b.htm, accessed 1 April 2008

[2] Pauline Curby, Visitors sixpence:, the first 100 years, Manly Hospital and Community Health Services, Manly NSW, 1996