Friday 8 January 2016

Darlinghurst Road to Rosebank Street - Numbers 229 and 227

These two terraced buiuldings together, represent a microcosm of the life of the street. Originally built in the 1870s as residences, they have subsequently been converted to a variety of uses.

The doorway to the left of Sinclair's Newsagent and Circulating Library leads to Stanley &and Sedgwick, estate agents. The partly obscured noticeboard reads, "Agents - Flats, Rooms, Board and Residence", a reminderthat the residential population of the area was one of Sydney's most transient. Sinclair's sold papers but, obviously, a lot more besides. In the window there are mirrors, fishing tackle, magazines, clocks, and a sign for a locksmith.

This is the kind of shop Kylie Tennant had in mind when writing of Bud's shop in Foveaux, where it is possible to find anything from "foish-hooks to scent ... fireworks, tobacco, chocolate mice, bootlaces, plaster statuettes, ink bottles, novelties, and hairpins, all jumbled together with skipping ropesor tin whistles".

Behind Sinclair's is the American Cleaners and Pressers, one of six such establishments in William Street, a concentration which further emphasises its service nature. Upstairs, Joseph V. Collier, who has the head-lease on the whole building runs a boarding house. Council records show that in 1916 Ada Aspinall, Emily Tyrell,John Laughlin, and Neil Herbert were lodging there.

Number 227 is a much more formal affair, having been converted by the English, Scottish and Australian Bank to look as a bank was supposed to be - conservative, secure, serious. Upstais, behind lattice screen and woodn Venetian blinds, lived H. Hewlwtt, the bank's manager, with his family.

The pair of houses are of brick with slate roofs. The brick is rendered and the details - the mouldings, cornice, and windows - are painted in contrasting colours. They belong to the estate of the late John Maloney and, according to the Council's valuer, could expect to be rented for about £6 per week each.

The young man with newspaper stands in a pose characteristic of many "men about town" in this period. As we pass down the street we will notice a number of others of similar stance, hands held high in pockets, hat worn forward, a stance not quite larrikin but certainly not middle-class - the sort of young Sydneysider recently emancipated from "the push", the corner larrikin on his way to "settling down", the young man so frequently evpoked in Lewis Stone's memorable novel Jonah published in 1911.