Walk On The Wild Side

I spent most of the afternoon on a walking tour called, “Slurry Hills and Razorhurst”, presented by Mark Dunn President of the History Council and organised by 702 ABC Sydney. Although I’ve been on a number of local history walks before, this was probably the most interesting and illuminating one I’ve ever been on.

The tour started on the steps of St Peter’s Church, Devonshire Street, where we were shown photographs of Kate Leigh’s funeral which was attended by many people including Tilley Devine. According to the accompanying blurb, “From the 1920s until the 1940s two women ran the Sydney underworld: Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh. This walk starts at the front door of Kate’s house and ends at the front door of Tilly’s, taking in the haunts, hollows and hovels of Surry Hills and Darlinghurst along the way”.

What was supposed to be about 2 hours in duration ended up closer to 3, not that anyone minded since there was so much to learn along the way. Although the common thread was Kate and Tilley and their trade in sly-grog, prostitution, and shoplifting, we also stopped by historic buildings including the Baptist Temple where Arthur Stacey (the man who wrote Eternity on Sydney footpaths) attended, and the Reader’s Digest Building (formerly the stables for a brewery).

The house in which Kate Leigh was living when she died, located on Devonshire Street, Surry Hills near The Shakespeare and Mohr Fish
Arguably, the most famous brothel in Sydney – A Touch Of Class.
The house where Tilley did most of her work up until her retirement.

Come to the end of the walk I grabbed a quick bite to eat and met Andrew for a brief drink.

Now two hours later I’ve got the washing machine pumping away, the television is playing quietly in the background, and I’m enjoying putting my feet up.

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  1. Mick B

    Did you get a photo of the kate leigh vs tilly devine, august 1929, engraving on the footpath on cnr bayswater and kellett st? I’ve been looking all over the internet for one and havn’t been able to come accross it. Thanks.

    1. michelle

      Kate Leight was my great grandmother. how do u htink i can con6tact larry writer?

  2. James O'Brien

    Sorry Mick and Michelle, but can’t help with either request. I’ve uploaded all the info I have.

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