Tag Archives: Sydney markets

Showers have revived our hopes

Sir Thomas Brisbane was Governor of New South Wales from 1 December 1821 until 1 December 1825. Three years after his departure from office, the Sydney Gazette referred to a long-range weather forecast attributed to the Governor:

The Australian says, that “Sir Thomas Brisbane, before he left the Colony, predicted that we should have a drought of three years’ duration in New South Wales!” For the first six months after Sir Thomas left, it did nothing but rain, and that as violently as ever rain descended from the heavens. But, should this prediction come true, there are about two years yet to the good: and, if there be no rain in that time, we will undertake to predict that the world will then be at an end.

This suggests that in March 1828 the writer was of the view that the colony had been subject to drought for about a year, that is since about March 1827. We read of drought in 1826 but there was evidently sufficient rain by the beginning of 1827 to mark off that period of drought from the more prolonged period which succeeded. Thus we read concerning the Thursday market in Sydney on 4 January:

The fruit is beginning to shew itself, though the long drought has been a great drawback upon the orchard; but the late occasional showers have revived our hopes in this respect.

There seems to have been a spirit of hopefulness abroad in March 1827. Experience suggested that substantial rains were likely in the latter part of the month, and on 10 March the Sydney Gazette was taking heart from recent conditions and expecting even better:

Upon looking into the Almanack we are glad to find, for once in a way, that our Colonial Compiler is tolerably correct. We see that we are to expect rain in torrents this month; of this we are right glad, as nothing is more universally needed than rain in abundance. Horticulture begins, even already, to wear a smiling aspect; and, as for the field, nature has proudly and joyously assumed her ever-green. We have had a long drought. The maize has somewhat suffered; but still nothing—no, not even the apparent frown of Providence, will operate as a drawback upon our prosperity, since all things will continue to work together for our Commercial, Agricultural, Political, and Moral Good.

Some readers may have wondered whether, in ascribing to Providence merely an ‘apparent frown’ that could hardly hinder human progress, the writer was tempting Fate.

Governor Brisbane’s prediction: Sydney Gazette and New South Wales Advertiser 21/3/1828, p. 2. Market report: ibid. 6/1/1827, p. 2. Almanack: ibid. 10/3/1827, p. 2.

Sydney in 1841: a directory [instalment 2]

The ‘Directory of the Public Institutions and Government Offices in Sydney’ published in the Sydney Herald on 5 July 1841 (see yesterday’s entry for further details) includes (3) educational establishments, (4) places of resort and (5) public wharfs (so spelled) and markets.

(3) The directory lists nine educational establishments located in public buildings (or two or three more if primary and infant schools are counted separately): the Australian College, in Jamison Street beside the Scotch Church; the Sydney College, on the east side of Hyde Park; the Female School of Industry, at the lower end of Macquarie Street; the Kent-street Primary and Infant Schools, between King and Market Streets; St. Philip’s Primary and Infant School, next to St. Philip’s Church; St. James’ Grammar School, nearly completed, at the southern end of Phillip Street, with classes temporarily held in the Old Court House (next to St. James’ Church); St. James’ Primary Male and Female Schools, in the Old Court House; the Roman Catholic School, also in the Old Court House; and the New Roman Catholic School-house, at the northern end of Kent Street. There are also ‘upwards of sixty private seminaries.’

(4) The term ‘places of resort’ evidently means places for serious and civilised recreation and amusement. Four places are listed: the Royal Exchange and Subscription Rooms, temporarily in the nearest house to Sydney Cove, on the east side of Macquarie Place; the Australian Club-house, on the corner of O’Connell and Bent Streets (not far from Macquarie Place); the Australian Museum, but this is closed at the moment and temporary premises are being used next to St. James’s Parsonage at the southern end of Macquarie Street; and the Sydney Botanical [sic] Gardens (part of the Government Domain).

(5) Three wharves are listed: the Queen’s Wharf, near the northern end of George Street, i.e. at Sydney Cove, and two at Darling Harbour: the Market Wharf in Sussex Street, between Market and King, and the Commercial Wharf at the end of King Street.

Of the markets, the Sydney Market Sheds are where the Queen Victoria Building stands now, surrounded by George, York, Market and Druitt Streets. The other three markets are side by side at the southern end of the town, on the southern side of Campbell Street: the Corn Market (at the end of George Street) and on the eastern side of that the Hay Market and then the Cattle Market, which includes the Sydney Pound.

A note on two of the institutions mentioned: The Australian College (1831-1854) was founded by Sydney’s first Presbyterian minister, John Dunmore Lang (1799-1878), minister of the Scotch Church and principal of the College. The College lasted longer than his short-lived Caledonian Academy, announced in 1826, the year the Scotch (or Scots) Church was completed (cf. the announcement in The Monitor 2/6/1826, p. 8, which states that any funds which Dr. Lang may derive from his connection with the Academy will be used to pay off the church debt). The State Library of NSW holds a number of images of the three-storey building with verandahs on the corner of O’Connell and Bent Streets used by the Australian Club until 1892.

[To be continued.]

Photographs of the Australian Club House: e.g. Australian Club [ca. 1863-65], Dalton’s, Royal Photographic Gallery, 320, George Street, Sydney, Dalton’s Royal Photographic Establishment (Sydney, N.S.W.) (Ref. SPF/101), Aggregated Collection, State Library of NSW.