Tag Archives: Bridge Street

The Colonnade, Bridge Street: a chronology

A number of articles and comments on the Unhurried Traveller website refer to the Colonnade, Bridge Street, Sydney. The partial chronology given below is intended to co-ordinate some of the information relating to the Colonnade. Also included are some biographical details concerning people associated with the Colonnade, and some details concerning developments in the general vicinity.

Grateful acknowledgement is made of information contributed by a number of readers in comments; see in particular ‘The Colonnade, Bridge-street’ and comments there. It is hoped that further chronological details can be added from time to time.

c. 1820s – 1830s. Lumber yard on southern corner of George and Bridge Streets.

1827. Land known as the Orphan Grant (or Orphan House Ground), bordered on the west by George Street and on the south by Bridge Street, subdivided into six lots and sold.

1828. August. John Edye Manning (in England) appointed registrar of the Supreme Court of New South Wales.

1828. 27 December. John Verge, previously and later architect, now farmer, arrived in Sydney ‘with his son, a shepherd, a flock of Hampshire sheep, various supplies and agricultural equipment’; settled at 70 Pitt Street; received land grants; ‘Most of his architectural work in Sydney appears to have been done between 1830 and 1837, when he retired to Lyndhurst Vale and later to Austral Eden’; ‘his time of maximum activity, 1830-34’; ‘His domestic buildings were the colony’s high-water mark of the Regency style, in its austere stucco vernacular, and in this context he was one of the earliest and most important practitioners of the Greek Revival in Australia’; ‘The pre-eminent early nineteenth century country house in Australia, and Verge’s masterpiece, is Camden Park, Camden, designed for John Macarthur in 1831-32 and built in 1832-35’; ‘One of the richest and most spatially dramatic interiors in early Australian colonial architecture is seen in the hall at the massive Elizabeth Bay House … designed in 1833, and built in 1835-37’; ‘The important terraces, shops and bazaars designed for such businessmen of Sydney as Samuel Lyons and John Edye Manning, father and son, have all disappeared. The only surviving Verge terrace house is the pair designed and built for the Sydney tradesman Frederick Peterson in 1834-36, 39 and 41 Lower Fort Street, which remains as an example of Verge’s many routine commissions for city frontages’ (ADB).

1829. May. Manning arrived in Sydney with his wife and five children.

1830. Thomas Brett established a wine and spirit warehouse, known as (or including?) St. John’s Tavern, on the northern corner of George and Bridge Streets.

1831. February. Verge bought land on the site of 346 Sussex Street, and built his house there.

1831. November. Manning received two land allotments at Rushcutters Bay. Eventually, ‘His large land holdings included houses and stores in Queen Street, Sydney, land at Brisbane Water, Melbourne, Carcoar, Goulburn and Wollongong, and a lease of Vermont near Camden’ (Australian Dictionary of Biography).

1831. 5 December. An ‘illumination’ (display of lights) for the newly arrived governor General Richard Bourke; St. John’s Tavern participated.

1832. 18 June. Supreme Court: Thomas Brett, of St. John’s Tavern, was sued successfully by Rebecca Miller for breach of promise.

1833. 29 July. Sydney Herald, p. 2: William Jones, printer, and Mrs. Mary Jones and Lucilla Jones, arrived from London.

1833. August. A piece of land was purchased from Thomas Collins by John Edye Manning; he commissioned John Verge, architect, to design for the property a terrace of seven houses and shops, called the Colonnade.

1834. 7 October. Sydney Gazette: shops include those of Mrs. Boatwright (seminary for young ladies) and Mr Metcalfe; some shops yet to be let.

1834. (Details from a number of newspapers of various dates.) Colonnade, no. 1: Commercial Banking Company of Sydney (newly established). 2: Joseph Pritchard (selling assorted goods). 3: H.J. Sloman, Boot and Shoe Depot; and Spyer Brothers (selling various goods); and later in the year Mr. Grace, solicitor. 4?: Mrs. Metcalfe (selling bonnets). 6: Mrs. Boatwright, School for Young Ladies. 7: Mr. G.W. Evans (bookseller and stationer; formerly surveyor and explorer).

1836. 9 January. Sydney Gazette advertises the whole of the Colonnade for sale (via auctioneer Samuel Lyons).

1836. 22 January. Australian: Colonnade, no. 1: purchased by Mr. A. O’Reilly (Anthony O’Reilly, currier, established a leather and grindery warehouse at the Colonnade). 2: Mr. Joseph Pritchard. 3: Messrs. Spyer Brothers. 4: Mr. W. Moffitt. 5: Mr. W. Jones.

1840s. Colonnade, no. 17: Thomas Revel Johnson operated from no. 17 a newspaper, Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Reviewer (1845-1860; subsequently entitled Bell’s Life in Sydney and Sporting Chronicle, 1860-1870).

1841. Manning ‘became a victim of the depression, for his property and stock were heavily mortgaged and his shares worthless’ (ADB).

1841. 5 July. ‘Directory of the Public Institutions and Government Offices in Sydney’, Sydney Herald: the office of the Australian newspaper is in Bridge Street, in the ‘lowest house in the Colonade’.

1846. 5 August. Sydney Morning Herald, p. 1: William Walker a new occupant at the Colonnade.

1846. 7 September. Sydney Morning Herald, p. 2: Colonnade, no. 17, known as the Dolphin Hotel, ‘together with the premises adjoining’, advertised for sale by William Jones, proprietor; used as a printing office; ‘The situation is first-rate … being the principal entrance from George-street to the Circular Wharf, Customs House, and all the public Government Offices…’

R.J.M. Newton, ‘Manning, John Edye (1783–1870)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967; and online. Harley Preston, ‘Verge, John (1782–1861)’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, vol. 2, 1967; and online.

The Colonnade, Bridge-street

Just inside Bridge Street from George Street, Sydney, on the north side of the street, between George and Pitt, was a building containing a series of dwellings of uniform appearance and having at the front a roofed colonnade ‘which answers the double purpose of verandah and balcony.’ The dwellings were mostly used as workplaces and shops. The name was apparently not worked into the building, for otherwise the spelling might have been as uniform as the architecture. One finds either Colonnade or Colonade. The address is usually given as Colonnade (or Colonade) rather than ‘the’ Colonnade or Colonade.  The history of the location offers examples in miniature of many of the interests and pretensions of early colonial Sydney society.

In 1834 we find among the tenants, at No. 1, Colonnade, Bridge-street, the new Commercial Banking Company of Sydney, which was finalising its Deed of Settlement and initial distribution of shares. Joseph Pritchard at No. 2 sold an assortment of goods. At No. 3 was H.J. Sloman’s Boot and Shoe Depot. In England Mr. Sloman had been ‘Bootmaker to His Majesty.’ Also at No. 3 we find the Spyer Brothers, who sold goods including salt, sugar, tea, tobacco, and ‘velvet corks’. In the latter part of the year Mr. Grace, a solicitor, formerly of King-street East, moved into No. 3. Perhaps at No. 4 was Mrs. Metcalfe, who advertised for sale ‘an elegant Assortment of Leghorn, Tuscan, and Straw Bonnets of the newest Fashion and Shapes, which she has brought with her from England.’ She also announced, ‘Two Apprentices to the Straw Business wanted.’ At No. 6 was Mrs. Boatright’s School for Young Ladies. She gives the address as ‘6, Colonnade, Bridge-street (Leading to Government House)’, as if intimating that her pupils could be expected to rise in society and go in the same direction. Mr. G.W. Evans, bookseller, was at No. 7. In March Mr [Ralph] Mansfield, of Hart’s Buildings, announced that he was retiring from bookselling and had transferred to Mr. Evans his stock of publications from the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge, including a large supply of the Penny Magazine, ‘commencing with the First Number.’ At the same time Mr Evans placed an advertisement listing the range of titles which he had available. These included various books, the Penny Cyclopedia and the Ladies’ Magazine.

Publications available from Mr. Evans range from Insect Transformation to The Architecture of Birds, and from Paris, and its Historical Scenes to The New Zealanders. One could also purchase The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties, illustrated by Anecdotes, or (under the heading of The Working Man’s Companion) On the Results of Machinery. Under the same heading one finds Cottage Evenings, which seems reminiscent of Vergil’s Georgics, but also The Cholera, striking a rather sinister note, from which one might hardly be relieved by perusing Criminal Trials. There is, however, hope of escapism not only in Vegetable Substances Used for the Food of Man but in Pompeii and Its Antiquities or The Domestic Habits of Birds. Perhaps on the whole the Penny Magazine and the Ladies’ Magazine were safe choices.

Quotation describing the Colonnade: Australian 8/1/1836, p. 1. No. 1: Sydney Herald 20/11/1834, p. 1. No. 2: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 29/11/1834, p. 1. No. 3: Sydney Monitor 17/12/1834, p. 4. No. 4, Mr. Grace: Sydney Monitor 13/12/1834, p. 4. Mrs. Metcalfe: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 26/8/1834, p. 1 (Colonnade number not given; no. 4 let to Mr. Metcalfe according to Australian 8/1/1836, p. 1, but this is not decisive). No. 6: e.g. Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 16/12/1834, p. 1 (frequent advertisements). No. 7: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 4/3/1834, p. 1.