Bob Cooper’s Inn

We shall now cross over George street to the eastern side and experience one of the violent contrasts that meet the delver into Old Sydney, for the most interesting place we would find in the Sydney of 70 years ago would be a public-house. This was Bob Cooper’s Inn, situated opposite where the Town Hall now stands. Cooper had also a large distillery in George street west, near the site of the St. Benedict’s School. He was not related to the Cooper of the Waterloo warehouse.

On one occasion Mr. Cooper was summoned to give evidence before the Bar of the Legislative Council, but his familiar way of appealing to the members from the Governor downwards so incensed that august body that they dismissed him. Mr. Cooper’s manufactured specialty was gin. The beer in use was known as sugar beer, and was brewed chiefly by Bones of Pitt street and Terry Hughes of the Albion Brewery, where now Messrs. Toohey’s Brewery stands.

According to the irrepressible “J.B.M.” whose reminiscences I have quoted before: –
“The brewery reservoir of Terry Hughes stood within the drainage area of the old Devonshire street cemetery, which imparted a special flavour to the beer.”

Scottish Watchmaker

Not far distant from Cooper’s Inn was a quaint old watch and chronometer maker. Mr. D. L. Dymock, of Brisbane, in some reminiscences he has favoured me with, says that this identity was :—
“A Scotchman whose work was relied upon as being as perfect as possible. He used to tirade against the small Swiss imported watches, and glowed over the old double-cased turnip size. His vocabulary was unique.”


Another character of this locality is represented by the row of bookstalls which may be seen on the right-hand side of the illustration “George street in 1842, looking south from opposite the Cathedral,” on page 34. These stalls were in front of the Cathedral, then in course of erection, and were owned by Jerry Moore. It is said that he would wait upon an incoming emigrant ship, and buy up cheaply all the books used on the passage out, and retail them from his stalls. Subsequently, he opened a shop on the opposite side of the street, where he commenced the issue of Moore’s Almanac, which continues to the present day.

Our forefathers placed great reliance on the weather forecasts in the almanac. Mr. Moore troubled not about such things as isobars and atmospheric pressure; he just sat down and threw off a year’s forecast on a principle I am afraid our meteorologists have lost.

Bathurst Street

A little further south, about the intersection of Bathurst street, we have the site of the picture “Brickfield Hill in 1796,” reproduced on page 35. This was taken from Collins’ account of New South Wales, published in 1798. The cart, it will be observed, is drawn by bullocks. If Captain Collins’ artist had drawn his picture about three years earlier (in 1793), the bullocks would have been replaced by men. Writing, in December of that year, of the bricks made lower down the hill, Collins says:–

“To convey these materials from the brickfield to the barrack ground, a distance of about three-quarters of a mile, three brick carts were employed, each drawn by 12 men, under the direction of one overseer. Seven hundred tiles, or 350 bricks, were brought by each cart, and every cart, in the day, brought either five loads of bricks or four of tiles.”

To bring in the timber four timber carriages were employed, each being drawn by 24 men. For a number of years in early Sydney the use of bullocks, in place of horses, was universal. They were used in shafts like horses, in teams with traces, and even for riding purposes. The road down Brickfield Hill became populated within a year or two of the foundation of the colony.

In 1790 a road to the brick kilns was made, and Collins, in December, 1793, says that 150 huts had been added since the departure of Governor Phillip, and that “the huts extended nearly to the brickfields whence others were building to meet them, and thus unite that district with the town.”

These brickfields were situated in the vicinity bounded roughly by George, Campbell, Elizabeth and Goulburn streets.

Anthony Hordern and Sons

On the corner of Goulburn Street we have the large stores of Messrs. Anthony Hordern and Sons. The original Anthony Hordern arrived in Sydney in the early ‘twenties of the last century. and opened a coachbuilding works in King Street, on the site of the “Truth” offices; while his wife conducted a haberdashery shop alongside. Their two sons, Anthony and Lebbius, opened a shop on Brickfield Hill, the site of which is incorporated in the present building. The business was afterwards removed to the Haymarket, where Mr. Sam Hordern, son of Anthony No. 2, built up the huge concern of today. On July 10, 1901, a devastating fire swept through the Haymarket premises, unfortunately, attended with loss of life, which, in two hours, destroyed half a million pounds worth of goods. The present premises were thereafter built.