Sydney Architecture Images- Gone but not forgotten

Government Printing Offices




Bent Street


Built-    Demolished-


Victorian Mannerist Victorian Italianate Victorian Free Gothic Federation Free Classical


Rendered brick Stone


Government Retail Bank Office Hotel Church Theater Utility House Warehouse
Above- view at Cnr Bridge and Phillips Streets.
Above- the same view today. The newer Hotel Intercontinental has incorporated some of the previous facade walls.
Past, Present, and Future.( By T.E. CHAMPION.)

The City Council is about to commence operations in connection with its scheme forthe extension of Martin-place into Macquarie street, and the future of Phillip-street is largely bound up with these resumptions. Phillip-street will be taken in hand. The council's scheme not only provides for the resumption of sufficient ground to make Martin-place a fine thoroughfare, but includes the taking over of adjoining structures, the demolition of which in many instances has long been overdue. In ... plan of Sydney in .... Phillip-street is set down as .....street; gives its present name in honour of our first Governor it was known as ..... Row East. It was only a little street in those days, extending from King-street to Bligh-street, where its further progress was blocked by the grounds of old Government House. It consisted then, and for a long time afterwards, largely of work-men's cottages, and these were of the most primitive construction; but the street was easy of access to the centres of work, though a bit of a climb from the water front.

There were however many houses of refreshment on the way, and in Phillip-street alone there were four licensed inns in 1810.Maelehcse, in his little book, "The Picture of Sydney and Strangers' Guide in New South Wales for 18... says "Although Phillip-street .... streets in Sydney, connecting the .... ridge which terminates...........tableland of Hyde Perk: yet employment." And so it remained until after:8tó, when the dismantling of old Government House permitted of its extension; the only building of any importance being the first St. James' Grammar School, which from1840 to 1857 stood on the present side of St James's Hall.

In 1856, however, three large stone building were started - the Water Police Court at the ... of the street, the Government Printing Office, and the Presbyterian Church (of an illustration is herewith given) had previously been held in a row of small buildings between Hunter and Kent streets, which were used subsequently as dwellings, and finally dismantled in 1910.

The Government Printing Office had been commenced on the present site in 1841, when it consisted of a number of wooden buildings, .... and known as the the Immigration Cottages. Here the work was carried on for eight years, then transferred to larger premises at the top of King-street, where the District Court is now, and later removed back to the original site when the new building was ready.

The church then called Phillip-street Church is St. Stephen's, with the stone front and tower added after the union of 1865.


The gold rush was at its height at this time, and fresh colonists were arriving in over-whelming numbers (in 1858 our population was more than a million), and, though masons and carpenters were in great demand, the lure of the goldfields prevented much building work being done. As the rush abated and people began to return to the city additional lodgings had to be provided, and in Phillip street changes took place, as elsewhere, and a number of old-time cottages, many of them with little trim front gardens, were replaced by improved two-story residentials. In the mid-fifties and later quite a numberof well-known people came to live in this street, such as Dr. J. C. Cox, Rev. Dr. Mackay (Presbyterian minister). Dr. Bowman, Ambrose Tass, Dr. Maurice Pelton. Lewis Lipman. merchant. Dr. Houison, and others. Starkey's lemonade factory took the place of the old Lemon Tree Inn, a couple of doors from the Presbyterian Church.

Wentworth-place, which was a means of communication between Phillip and Elizabeth streets, was replaced by Wentworth Court. The lower portion of the street began to be filled with wool warehouses, bonded stores, and other businesses which have an affinity to the waterfront. In 1871 the Government Printing Office was enlarged. About 1874 was commenced the the entire space from the comer of Phillip-street, Bridge-street, and the Macquarie-street corner.

The building of this block occupied six years, and the cost was over £ 123,000.During 1832, Henrietta Terrace, opposite the Blue Bell Inn was built. In September of the same year the extension of the Elizabeth street steam tram terminus to Bridge-street disturbed the quiet of this end of Phillip-street.One limit to the new road on the western side is Trenton House at No. 129. which is not to be resumed. This fine building took the place of offices which during the eighties were occupied by the Board of Technical Education. The other end of the resumed area is No. 151, just alongside the "Sun'' at the corner of Hunter and Phillip streets, when the Star Hotel and the adjoining officeof the Inspector-General of Police were demolished to make room for the police department block. Mr. Larry Foley, whose official title was "Expert Demolisher of Public Buildings" under the O'Sullivan regime, super-vised the work of demolition.The old oak tree which flourished for so many years on the pathway nearby wasremoved in 1895.In 1901 the Metropole was built, one side of which is in Phillip-street. Twenty years in May next the Neuchatel Asphalte Co. remade and reconditioned the roadway from Hunter to King-street, and this work has stood up to the test. Since that tune, apart from the palatial "Sun" building, a number of tall modern buildings such as Phillip House, the Tudor Hotel, Lanark House, etc., have been erected, and businesses dealing with motor cars have taken a firm hold of the neighbourhood.


One of the two oldest buildings still standing is undoubtedly the Blue Bell Inn. the first licence for which, it has been stated, was granted in 1735. The Inn was certainly inexistence during Macquarie's time, and is therefore well over 100 years old. In 1903, a renewal of the licence was opposed by the police on the ground that sufficient hotels already existed in the neighbourhood. So passed the old inn, which had been very popular in its day. For long years, in a time when restaurants were few, luncheon at the Blue Bell was quite the regular thing. For the past 30 years it has been a residential and formerly belonging to the Hill family, who resided in the quaint cottage backing it in Bent-street, demolished a few years ago.

There were originally two of the cottages, one being occupied for some years by Mr. Francis Hill, a son, who was accountant to the Government Savings Bank. It is known that Mr. R. A. Hunt, of the General Post Office, lived in the other cottage for about 60years, and it has been stated that at an earlier date it was occupied by W.C. Wentworth. A description of Phillip-street would be incomplete without a reference being made to the tenants, particularly those of the legal fraternity. From its close proximity to the Law Courts at the southern end, as well as its comparative freedom from heavy traffic, Phillip-street always was and still is an ideal office proposition for legal men. At the present time over 100 barristers are located here. They occupy the whole of Denman and Selbourne Chambers, and a large proportion of the rooms in University Chambers, as well as being the principal tenants of many of the former residentials. Denman Chambers, above referred to, goes back quite 50 years, and was remodelled about 12 years ago. It was part of the old Josephson estate, which also included Wentworth Court and other valuable properties in the vicinity. On account of the resumptions, a number of barristers will be dispossessed of their offices, and will find chambers elsewhere: but there is no doubt of their subsequent return to this old street, which has been called the Mecca of every aspiring barrister.


The eastern side of the street will suffer most at first, as three important buildings there are marked for destruction. These are St.Stephen's Church, one quarter of which stands directly in the line of the proposed avenue (it is understood that the council will either re-build the church facing this avenue, or donate another site; In this connection Burdekin House has recently been mentioned; the St James Record, the foundation of which was laid with great solemnity by Archbishop Wrightin January 1913, and the Stamp Duties Office, built in .... The consent of the Government - as owner - must, of course, be given in the latter case before the council can proceed. Possibly more improvements will be effected in Phillip-street as the result of these resumptions than the other streets passed through.

SMH 18 February 1933