A little piece of history

The Marrickville Metro site has a long association with industry. European settlement began in 1795 with a thirty-acre land grant to James Waine, who established a small farm which provided the Sydney Markets with what was reported to be an excellent supply of fruit and vegetables. In 1838 it was subdivided then developed into a brickyard by Henry O’Brien before it was developed into a tannery in the 1860s by Robert Koll, a German migrant. By the 1890s Davenport and Sons was the second largest tannery and boot-making business in Sydney and considered one of Marrickville’s leading industries.

Scottish migrant John Vicars had established a successful woollen manufacturing business in Sydney, and in 1894 his sons developed a new mill on this site with a staff of 200. The mill made tweeds and blankets, and during the World Wars was a major supplier to the armed forces, employing 2,000 people during the Second World War. Fletcher Jones was a major customer in the 1950s and 1960s and a large proportion of the staff were migrants, especially from Greece. By the late 1970s significant changes to the wool industry forced the
closure of the factory.

To remind us of the history of our land, the external wall of the woollen mill has been preserved with Marrickville Metro Shopping Centre built within. The old Mill House built in 1864 is heritage listed and is used as our Centre Management Office. Origionally built as Robert Koll’s house and contained six rooms. Later it was used as the caretakers residence of the Enmore Tannery. After the Vicars family took possession it became known as The Mill House and was occupied by William Vicars’ and the Robert Vicars’ families, and later by the Woollen Mill Engineers. The house was conserved and repaired in the 1980s and again in 2007 and 2017. It remains as a rare example of a domestic gothic revival timber building and one of the oldest surviving buildings in the Marrickville area and a reminder of the industries that defined this part of Sydney. When The Mill House was build it stood in a rural setting, which quickly transformed into a major industrial hub. It is now part of a vibrant shopping complex and stands as a reminder of industries that defined this part of Sydney.

To learn more about John Vicars please click here.