Once over the bridge you are in what in the later nineteenth century became the scientific heart of the university. In 1882 the Faculty of Science was launched and a wave of building began in this area as it became apparent that practical science and engineering could not be taught in the smart rooms in the Main building.
Try to shut your eyes and envisage what it was like in 1885. (NO that isn’t a cow breathing down your neck now.) Almost all the present buildings are built or rebuilt over the remains of earlier, modest cottages of wood or brick. There were a number of cottages and huts running down the ‘road’ (at the time more an unformed track) that were used at various times for accommodation, overspill academic classes or laboratories, student union activities and the like. Some of the cottages, removed to other parts of the campus, are still to be found. One at least, after sitting on Manning Road below the McLaurin Hall in the 1960s was removed to the vet science outpost at Camden where, legend has it, it was used for pigs until condemned as unfit for porcine use. The only remaining cottage down on the right was not built in its present form until the 1890s.
In the late 1880s and 1890s as money from the government and from generous bequests like the Challis became available more substantial and up to date purpose-specific academic buildings replaced them. You are now surrounded by them.
The area was given a new look— fairly like its present look— in the 1920s by Leslie Wilkinson the professor of Architecture who had also taken over as university architect. He aimed to upgrade what had been muddy paths and ad hoc buildings where the insides were more important than the facades, into something with a Mediterranean ambience. He said in his inaugural address in 1919, ‘a good example must be set. Rough bush tracks, hideous paving, unworthy lamps, crude posts with webs of wire, which even invade the main quadrangle! — all these things must be banished as poisonous to any educational effort.’ He straightened the route of what was now Science road and re-organised access to it. He added the plantings that now frame the buildings and botanists will notice Brush Box, other rainforest species, Hibiscus, Abelia Camellias and Poplars. It was Wilkinson who arranged the reconstruction of the neo-classical facade of the demolished George Street CBC Bank stone for stone as a front to the building that still faces you as you cross the bridge.
We shall go down Science Road first looking at the buildings on the right and then returning to look at those on the other side.