The Varley Story - Part 18

The last remnants of Varley’s Darby Street facility during its demolition in 1965.

In the mid-1960s, the Newcastle Council decided to give the industrial area of the city a spruce up. A major priority area was the area that was Varley’s facility on Darby Street, and is now Civic Park. The block was full of industrial sheds and warehouses, as well as rail lines, pits and small workshops. The Council set about assisting businesses to relocate to areas further north in the city, so as to open this prime real estate to public recreation and green space.

At the end of the ‘60s, Civic Park was born. The major industrial inhabitants, including Varley, moved to other facilities, primarily in the suburbs of Carrington (straight across the harbour) and Wickham (just up the road). Within a few years, grass and fig trees had replaced the workshops and rail lines, and Novocastrians began to gather and socialise in the area like never before. This bred the introduction of a strong café, food and retail culture on Darby Street, which remains prevalent today.

The timing of Varley’s relocation was actually extremely beneficial for the business. The smaller jobs being nurtured throughout the ‘50s and early ‘60s has grown into larger projects and the Darby Street workshop had become cramped for space.

And so in 1964, a new 2,500m2 factory site (on 10,500m2 land) was purchased on the corner of Parker and Everett Streets in Carrington. The suburb is now one of the major industrial areas of Newcastle, but back then was commonly referred to as ‘Texas’ due to the expanse of green fields.

Varley was changing yet again, and the ‘spiritual home’ of the Company would develop and expand even further over the coming few decades…