Chinatown 27: Central Station to Chinatown 4

There is now a large office complex on the block running from Barlow Street to Hay Street on Pitt Street, which aside from a number of government offices also hold the Zilver Chinese Restaurant. When it was built some heritage features were preserved.

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“1821: The Benevolent Society Asylum opened for the ‘poor, blind, aged and infirm’ at the Central Railway site.” The Benevolent Society still exists. “Since The Benevolent Society was established in 1813 we have been pioneering social change in response to community needs.” You will find some more early history here. “The Benevolent Society of New South Wales was originally known as the New South Wales Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge and Benevolence in these Territories and Neighbouring Islands. The original Society was founded by a group of evangelical Christians including Edward Smith Hall (1786–1860) in 1813. In 1818 the Society promoting Christian knowledge and Benevolence lapsed and the Benevolent Society was formed with Governor Macquarie as Patron.”

 Sydney-1842

1841 map

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The Great and Good of NSW.

You can have fun looking them all up in the Australian Dictionary of Biography. On George Allen:

ALLEN, GEORGE (1800-1877), solicitor, was born on 23 November 1800 at Southwark, London, the second son of Richard Allen, a physician of London, and his second wife Mary, née Tickfold. Richard Allen died in 1806, leaving a widow and five children between 14 and 6, and little to support them. As well as his practice, he had had a business of vending medicines; it was managed by Thomas Collicott, whom his widow married in 1809. In 1812 Collicott was convicted of failing to affix revenue stamps to his medicine bottles, and was transported to New South Wales in the Earl Spencer in October 1813. His wife, with George Allen and two other children of her first marriage and three children of Collicott’s previous marriage, followed him, reaching Sydney in the Mary Anne in January 1816…

Allen was admitted to practise as a solicitor on 24 July 1822. He was the first solicitor who had received his legal training in the colony, and the founder of the oldest legal firm in Australia. His office was at first on the corner of George and Hunter Streets, later in Macquarie Street, and from 1825 in Elizabeth Street.

During the five years of his articles and until his marriage, Allen was a lonely man, because of the absence of his family, first at Parramatta and afterwards in Hobart Town, and because, though not an emancipist, he had few friends among the free settlers, since his stepfather was an ex-convict. This may have been a reason why he became intensely religious. He joined the Methodist Society in 1821 and was soon a leading member. He was active in the Wesleyan Missionary Society, the Sydney Bethel Union, the Religious Tract Society, and the British and Foreign Bible Society. In keeping with the spirit of the times, he extended his puritanism to his purse, and his affairs prospered. By 1831 he owned three houses in Sydney, held an estate of thirty acres (12 ha) at Botany Bay, had acquired from the Church and School Corporation ninety-six acres (39 ha) of the old St Philip’s glebe, and had built there a house, Toxteth Park, where he and his family lived for the rest of his life. Besides conducting a lucrative legal practice, he was a founding director of the Gaslight Co. in 1836, as well as its solicitor, became the solicitor of the Bank of New South Wales in 1843, was a director of the bank in 1860-66 and 1868-77, and its president in 1863-66, and was a vice-president of the New South Wales Savings Bank and a director of several other companies.

Allen was humane and philanthropic and had a strong sense of duty. He was the honorary secretary of the Benevolent Society for many years and a member of the Temperance Society. In 1826 he joined the Agricultural and Horticultural Society. In November 1842 he was elected a councillor of Bourke Ward in the first poll for the Municipal Council of Sydney, and he was also an alderman for Brisbane Ward. He supported the popular cause in the council, advocating the employment of the poor rather than convicts on public works, though this may have been with the object of relieving the Benevolent Society from the burden of helping them. From November 1844 to November 1845 he was mayor of Sydney. In July 1845 Governor Sir George Gipps appointed him to the vacancy in the Legislative Council created by John Blaxland’s resignation. In 1856 he was appointed for five years as a member of the first Legislative Council under responsible government, and in 1861 was reappointed for life, but resigned in 1873. He was elected chairman of committees in the Legislative Council on twenty-two occasions…

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An old Fire Station, horse-drawn or manually operated engine size, has morphed into a cafe.

I hadn’t realised, though I should, that this part of Sydney, Haymarket, has only included a Chinatown, now its dominant feature, since the 1920s. Earlier there had been a Chinatown at The Rocks, and then in the Market Street precint in Darling Harbour. There was also a sizeable and even earlier Chinatown in Surry Hills, remnants of which still exist in the area around Campbell Street.  See also Chinese-Australians.

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