Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Sorrento Road

Lovely and cool again today. Rained again last night and there's a decent breeze. Lovely Autumn weather on the 7th day of Autumn. Grey skies again however, so here's some more from last week's blue sky:

Davis & Settree Sorrento Road Empire Bay

This is Davis & Settree. It's a former shop, built around 1920. It gazes out across the foreshore park and across the water to Davistown. It's perhaps 50 yards from the war memorial and the ferry wharf.

It was bought by Arthur Davis in 1921 and the shop half was run by his daughter Olive and her husband from 1928 to around 1979. Arthur lived in the other half and built the boatshed opposite. Looks like it's still standing. It's the one at the marina where the Renown is moored.

The Davises were Benjamin, Thomas, Rock and Edward, the ship-builders after whom Davistown (just across the water) and Bensville (just up the road a bit from Empire Bay) are named.

Rock Davis is the most well-known locally. Between them, the Davis brothers built 217 vessels at Davistown, Bensville and Blackwall in the second half of the 19th century. Rock Davis is buried at St. Paul's, that wee stone church at the Avoca Drive roundabout in Kincumber.

The Settrees were also local ship-builders. Alfred W.R.M. Settree built the Day Dawn in 1869 and 6 other boats. The Day Dawn is among the photos around the atrium food court called The Hub or The Hive or The Something at Bloody Erina (Erina Fair Shopping Centre). The Sttrees are also mentioned on the Empire Bay War Memorial and the memorial in the Woy Woy War Memorial Park.

From the Gosford Library's History of Davistown:

"“Scotchie”: William (“Scotchie”) Settree, carried mail between Woy Woy and Davistown using a rowing boat for 26 years. He died in 1916, at the age of 47. “Scotchie” Settree was reputed to have never missed a mail train at Woy Woy, nor a delivery run to Davistown in all of the 26 years he operated the service.

His sons continued the mail run until 1921, when Ferries were contracted for the service."

Love that image of the post being rowed across the water in fair weather and foul. Though it may well be that rowing in foul weather is what sent Scotchie to an early grave.

Davis & Settree Sorrento Road Empire Bay

The back of Davis & Settree.


468 sqm (approx), zoned 3A
1x3 bedroom, double garage
1x2 bedroom, single garage
Majestic water views from the decks of both townhouses
Completion expected June

[estate agent's contact details]"

So this lovely old place is for the chop. Bugger.

Sorrento House Sorrento Road Empire Bay

And this one too. Could they not replace it with something a bit less generic and boring?



Good opportunity to purchase commercial space or brand new
executive style townhouses
Comercial ideal for professional [something]
3 stylish townhouses with fantastic water views from the entertaining deck

[estate agent's contact details]"

"Houses (2): former boarding house "Sorrento House" 9-11 Sorrento Rd, Empire Bay ... 1906, 1929". This is No 9. No 11 has been replaced with a large noughties house. Not ugly but not 1929 either.

This was Harry Davis's place. It's just across the road and down a few yards from Davis & Settree. Harry was Olive's brother.

My hist list has 2 Strom listings for "Sorrento House". One is the listing above for 9-11 Sorrento Road. The other is "House: former post office "Sorrento House" 7 Sorrento Rd, Empire Bay ... 1908". No 7 Sorrento Road is now occupied by a seventies building that may or may not have been a Post Office at one time but now houses a fish and chip shop. The fish and chips are good but you know how I hate the seventies architecture.

Empire Bay foreshore Sorrento Road

Houses on the Sorrento Road foreshore at Empire Bay. The boatshed and marina are just out of frame on the right.

Left to right: 'Empire House' AKA Hagan's 1908 (also for sale); 'Davis & Settree', 12 Sorrento Road, circa 1922, former shop, 14 Sorrento Road, date unknown, 16 Sorrento Road, circa 1920.

It'll wreck this part of the foreshore if Davis & Settree and Empire House get bulldozed.


michael said...

its terrible that all these old houses are getting pulled down to make way for ugly houses and townhouses fair dinkum some of them look like they have built out of lego!!!
I found this wonderful blog today:
it belongs to a dear old thing as you call them called Olive Riley and she is 107!!! (obviously she has someone helping her with the blog) and she also lives right here in woy woy (I belive she ives in the nursing home behind woy woy hospital)

writer said...


Erica said...

what the blazes is wrong with Gosford council, if they allow Davis and Settree to be pulled down it's more than a shame, it's outrageous, do they have any kind of a heritage preservation plan? it's pure greed, why collect rates on one old house when you could collect on a block of units..double bugger

Aesthetic said...

It is a shame. Like has happened in Narrabeen, all those little sea-side cottages (ok, some of them were crap) demo'd to make way for a sea-of-same, ugly-as-fuck, units.

Spike said...

Michael - If they put up something decent I wouldn't howl so much as the loss of all the little old cottages. You're spot on with the lego. Bloody developers.

Thank yer for the link to Olive's blob. I just read it. It's excellent.

Writer - Dead right.

Erica - They've got HUAS. Head Up Arse Syndrome. Plus there's too many bloody developers on local councils. Sod the lot of 'em!

Aesthetic - I heard about the Narrabeen disaster a while back. Bastards! Okay, we've got more people and we need more houses but we don't need more sea-of-same (excellent phrasing there BTW).

Dave C said...

Hi all, as owners of 12 Sorrento Rd. we have no intention of destroying this home, the for sale is for two addittional townhouses that will be built on vacant rear land in sympathy with the original House. The House is also Heritage Listed now (22nd Decenber 2007)and we have named her appropriately as Historic Davis & Settree House.
Thanks for your interest in our home,cheers Dave & Barb PS we also have redecorated the exterior and added some colour.

Spike said...

Dave & Barb - That's great news. Thanks very much for letting us know. Best wishes for the future.

Josh said...

Sad to say that Empire House is no longer.. The whole thing has been demolished apart from the very front walls and a huge monstrosity put up in its place. I am very sad to see it like that as it was my holiday home for 20 years as our relatives owned it.

No matter what people say... It isn't an improvement on the beautiful original house that it was and i have been in contact with Gosford City council heritage department regarding it and surprise surprise i get no response. I have photos if anyone is interested email me at



Spike said...

Josh, I'm sorry to hear about the demolition. It was a lovely old place.

Check your inbox re photos.

Craig Hillman said...

We purchased Empire House shortly after your blog was posted.
We have spent over a year building our home and hopefully everyone finds it in keeping with the heritage values of the original house.
We have re instated many original features from C1920's photos so the house frontage is probably more original than it has been for some decades.
Admittedly the proportions of the building have increased substantially but we think the outcome is good, and many locals have commented positively, especially the lady who greeted me with hugs and kisses for putting the "Empire House" name back on the front, her Grandfather had lived and died at the house in the 20's.
We are keen for any information on the Hagans and the house so if anyone has anything please drop me a line.
Craig & Joanne.

Spike said...

Craig said:
We purchased Empire House shortly after your blog was posted.
We have spent over a year building our home ...

Fabulous to hear. Must pop over and see it. In the meantime, got a photo I can post? My email is <a href=">here</a>.

Anonymous said...

just sent you a pic to your gmail address, couldnt find any other on your page?.Also have some historic photos dating to 1920's.

Spike said...

Thank yer kindly, Craig. Got and posted on Sept 8th post.