Sobraon is a magnificent row of three storey terrace houses in Paddington, Sydney is an unusual Italianate composition. The name could have come from a clipper of the same name which was regularly moored at Rose Bay between 1867-1871 and the largest composite ship ever built1 (itself named for a war in Punjab India in the 1840s) the sails and masts which may well have once been visible in the distant harbour from the rear of these homes. The mid terrace is notably wider than either flanking terrace.
The party walls emerge as pinnacles topped by decorative urns which frame a cornice, frieze (dotted with square leaf patternes) and balustrade along a tall parapet which completely hides the roof. The mid terrace parapet is stepped up slightly to give it prominence and this features a small temple motif framing the row’s name. Sets miniature double corbels hold up the cornice – five on the mid terrace and three on either flanking terrace. The arched window openings feature a keystone above and sash ledge with decorative corbels dot an otherwise plainly treated upper facade. The party walls burst out in a wavy slide to frame the corrugated iron verandah roof. The party walls themselves are topped by urns and encrusted in interesting patterns and scroll corbels.
The upper verandahs were unsympathetically closed in to create a balcony flat during a front renovation sometime in 19292. These balconies are currently in decay, with much of the iron lacework rusted. The balcony lacework bows out slightly in a similar curve effect to the verandah roof. While the mid terrace features a central cast iron column with brackets to balance the heavier looking mass with pendants on either side to balance, the lower fringe of the flanking terraces features central pendants in its place appearing somewhat lighter and narrower.
The terraces are built up to the property line with a cast iron fence and the ground level has triple arched double hung windows with spiral cast iron columns in a Palladian motif. The main door sits within an arched frame.
Of the houses, probably only the mid terrace 19 Ormond Street has a mildly interesting history. In 1904, two men boarding at the house were committed for theft and pawning of the owner’s, Alexander John McFye of Queensland’s possessions. 3 The Murray family lived in this house during the 1940s. 4
The terraces are unfortunately very run down, however a full restoration may also remove some of their appeal.
- http://www.library.usyd.edu.au/libraries/rare/bax/FromSailingShipstoSteamItemsfromtheAllanEBaxCollectionofMaritimeHistory/parkinsobraonphotograph.html ↩
- The Sydney Morning Herald (pg 6) Saturday 16 November 1929 ↩
- The Sydney Morning Herald (pg 4). 11 March, 1904 ↩
- The Sydney Morning Herald (pg 8). 10 April, 1944 ↩