Sunday, January 08, 2012

Taking tea at Randwick

If one was to take tea at Randwick Racecourse in Sydney, surely one would do it at the Tea House. It is a fine example of Indian colonial architecture. While I am not sure if it has happened yet, the Tea House is to be demolished to make way for a new building, Theatre of the Horse. My eyes are rolling.

The Tea House was built in 1914, burnt down in 1917 and rebuilt to the same plans. It has huge spaces within its walls and can and has hosted all sorts of events, aside from just being somewhere to dine on race days. It was still there in October last year but may well be gone now.

My often defective memory tells me that the previous Labor state government gave bucketloads of money to Randwick racecourse to re-develop the race course as compensation for the disruption the pope's visit caused.

The Australian Jockey Club and the Sydney Turf Club merged last year and became the Australian Turf Club, so that is who to blame for the destruction of this architecturally rare, beautiful and historic building.

There appears to be very few photos of the Tea House available on the net. Here are a couple from the ABC.

This recent one appears to be the rear of the building while the second much older photo shows the wide verandahs and balconies as befits the style of architecture for a hot country such as India. As you can see, it has been well maintained with an intact slate roof.

You can see the roof here at Nearmap.

Might Victor have attended Randwick and dined at the Tea House? Unlikely. Maybe Lord Sedgwick with his interest in nags might have been there? Maybe Ann O'Dyne skulled sipped on champers at the Tea House when she lived in Sydney?


  1. 'Might Victor have attended Randwick and dined at the Tea House?'

    I have only been to Randwick Racecourse once in my life and that was about 40 years ago and this is the first time I have heard of the tea house.

    Just shows you how little I know about my own city.

  2. What a grand place to *take* tea in. Jolly good old sport.
    Do they say that any longer?

  3. There was something mentioned about it being a rare example of colonial architecture in the blah blah style but, as usual, it did no good.
    Rare or not it is To Go.

  4. Its a real shame a building with such elegance, grace, character and history has to be demolished to make way for probably a monstrous concrete and glass building with no heart or soul :-(.

  5. I prefer the very original building, with its open verandahs. The newish version looks all closed in.

  6. It did get some coverage in your media Victor, which is how I heard about it.

    No, either is not said here Rubye, unless in humour.

    A shame Jayne. All about money no doubt.

    Windsmoke, you wouldn't mind so much if they replaced old places with brilliant buildings, but it is rare.

    Fen, it is the back view of the building.

  7. That gorgeous old building is to be demolished??
    Shame, shame, shame!!
    I think a few heads need to be smacked together to knock a bit of sense in. Can't they just refurbish or something. Or why not just use it as is? It's too beautiful to destroy.

  8. Haven't been to Randwick. Moonee Valley is venue of choice for losing my ill earned on slow horses ridden by slow minded jockeys.

    There is a connection between the Tea House you mention and Woodlands Homestead which I believe you mentioned on your blog a few months or a few centuries ago.

    'Alongside the horses is the idiosyncratic Woodlands Homestead, a rare stately ''kit'' home that was exported from England in 1840 - most were destined for India - and has been at the centre of Victoria's thoroughbred industry ever since.'

    This place is now the retirement home of my granddaughter's most favoritest horse ever of all time, Apache Cat. She had either her 4th or 5th birthday party there. I remember it well, the temperature was near 40 degrees.

  9. Good grief! No more native fauna to shoot, no more native trees to chop down... I know! Why don't we go find a nice building we can graffiti with a bulldozer?

  10. It is a constant battle River. They do conservation of buildings much better in England.

    Interesting piece from The Age, LS. I remember now that it was a kit home.

    Yep FruitCake. Why do we Australians allow it?

  11. This is very similar to the Indianna Teahouse here in Perth, it's a fabulous place to have coffee or a meal, the views over Cottesloe Beach are spectacular. (really gorgeous loos too haha!)

  12. PDP, Indianna is not quite the same as Indian. I better have a look at your teahouse.

  13. I've seen ads for "kit homes" in real estate pages and magazines.
    The Tea House looks nothing like a "kit home". Guess they did things differently back then.

  14. Great building River. It can cater for any sort of gathering.

  15. the fact is we have a heritage commossion in nsw. what did they do? nothing, they find it easier to persecute individuals who supposedly live in heritage housing, and say nothing again when councillors have their house excluded from supposedly heritage areas. the heritage commission are are a bunch of politically expediante cowards. should anybody reading this think otherwise, then explain why i havent i got the right to do whatever with my property in a supposedly free country. ... black.vincent

  16. Vincent, I know what you are saying. We have Heritage Victoria, and it sounds exactly the same.

  17. We had our wedding reception in the The Tea Room in June 2000.
    We went to Randwick racecourse to see the standard function room on offer - yuk. As we where walking out I asked about the old building and what it was used for; to my surprise it was The Tea Rooms. A huge stylish space, glorious balcony, a fully functioning kitchen etc etc. A TRULY MAGNIFICENT OLD GIRL. And guess what it was available for a wedding reception all that had to be done was remove the cobwebs - it was basically unused and neglected. Its amazing how narrow sighted individuals can be to what is under their noses.....
    Anyway one of the best days of my life; and yes we are still married with a 5 and a 1 year old in tow.
    Sorry to say goodbye.

  18. Brilliant David. It is all very well to admire old buildings but it is great to add in some human history. The authorities would no doubt turn around and say, well no one wants to hire it. And nor they would if it not maintained. Fortunately you saw its potential.