Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Royal Hotel




George Street


Built- 1840  Demolished- 1925


Old Colonial Georgian


Rendered brick Stone


Summary The Royal Hotel was once the tallest building in Sydney. It was the first building in Australia to boast 5 floors.
uilt 1840 after the first 3 storey hotel from 1827 burnt down. (see Theatre Royal)
ite of the future 1926 Dymocks Building.
Above- two early views of George Street, the one on the right showing the previous Royal Hotel.
The original Royal Hotel of 1827 also housed Australia's first theatre, the Theatre Royal. After it burnt down, and some 35 years passed, Theatre Royal was rebuilt on corner of King and Pitt Streets. This, along with the ritzy Australia Hotel were demolished in 1969 to make way for MLC centre, and a modern theatre at the base of the tower, also named Theatre Royal.
Above- the site today.
One of the strangest windmills in the world was built above the Royal Hotel in George Street, Sydney. Its storey begun after the arrival of a young jewish businessman called Barnett Levey from London in 1821. He worked with his brother in a small store on George st & became one of the founders of drama in Australia. In 1826 he was granted a theatre license & was able to present plays at the front section of the Royal Hotel & used the back as a warehouse. The 3storey bldg could accommodate 900 people and ran until 1838.On march17,1840 the bldg burnt down. He announced to Gov Darling that he planned to build a windmill to crush grain on top of his warehouse. The site had a 22m george st frontage and 52m depth. This was said to be “dangerous to public & would scare the horses”. So Levey moved the windmill to the front (Royal hotel) part &the 50ft blades were set in motion on Christmas Day, 1827 & opened to public for grain grinding on Jan 17,1828. This gargantuan stone structure rose to 90ft ,27m & only a few of the worlds major cities had buildings as high as Leveys mill. The Royal Hotel was to have a short life, It was built without a permit & against the orders of authorities with the owner facing bankruptcy on completion. Levey died in 1837 & the Hotel theatre became disused & was burnt down on March 18,1840.The mill ceased functioning in 1830 & may have been re-erected at Kings Cross & given a new life.

Barnett Levey opened the colony's first theatre, Levey's Theatre Royal, with seating capacity for 1200. It was Sydney's first skyscraper, a five storey building that served as a warehouse, flour mill, public house and theatre. Barnett often performed solo in the theatre, which was connected to the Royal Hotel by a saloon 60 feet long. The flour mill was powered by a windmill perched on top of the building. The 90 foot high building, which was never approved by the government, was called a 'stupendous

Unfortunately, the mill didn't work and very little flour was produced; at enormous expense, since Barnett had contracted to buy 15,000 bushels of wheat well in advance of the season. According to The Sydney Times: 'the theatre and the windmill were in one respect alike; they were both useless.' He also built Waverley House, named after the novel by Sir Walter Scott, and opened the first book lending library. Apparently, he was obsessed with setting the cultural foundations for the colony.

In mid-May 1832 the mill, then referred to as the Sydney 'TOWER of BABEL', had been under the superintendence of prominent millwright and contractor Charles MINES, for unspecified work. MINES stated at that time that the height from the ground to the top of the sails was 43 metres(140ft).2nd highest structure in Australia! It seems probable that the mill was dismantled around this time.

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