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.