Friday 4 March 2016

Rosebank Street to Forbes Street - Number 195, 193, and 191

Sydney in the "golden decad" of the 1850s could not adequately house its citizens. Between 1851 and 1861 the population had virtually doubled from 54,000 to 96,000. Tents, shanties, and converted drays were used to house new migrants and returning diggers. Landlords had a field day, and thousands of new houses were built. Those pictured here are but three of a virtually continuous row of fifteen proceeding downhill from number 195 to number 167 167 at the corner of William and Forbes Streets.

195 and 193 have been defaced in the conversion from substantialtown houses to shop with rooms above. The balcony has been removed and the French doors have given way to 1916 modern windows.

They are owned by Maurice Solomon who owns five buildings in the street, making him the second largest owner after the Burdekin Estate. Otherwise, the pattern of ownership in William Street is small-scale, with three-quarters of the buildings belonging to owners who had no more than one or two properties there. Above Vernon's Estate and Insurance Agency are the rooms rented by Emily Morrison to run her boarding house. Her neighbour, Elizabeth Madden, also lets rooms above the pawn shop The unaltered house to the right, number 191, is owned by the Weigzell's, the wig-makers from further up the street, and is let to Mrs Mary Buckley who takes in lodgers there.

The pawnbroker was an integral part of William Street's ordinary life. a reminder, perhaps, that from them that hathnot, shall often be taken away. The window shown here is typical, with its array of clocks and watches, gold chains, medals, vases and stacks of tin trunks. Don Harrison, a lad at the time, remembers such a shop in his unpublished memoirs. The shop had
everything ever made, I think, tumbled into the windows; yellow diamonds, banjos, gold Elgin watches, rings by the hundred, cats' eyes, a stuffed monkey, lots of keys on hooks, spectacles by the gross, brooches, bangles, and necklaces of all sorts, an Aladdin's cave of everything man thought to make, or so it seemed to me. I bought a silver bangle there for my Mum's birthday.
Emmanuel Berkman, one of the four pawnbrokers in William Street, advertised in the Sydney Morning Herald. He sought to buy diamonds, jewellery, old gold and silver, electroplate, cutlery, Singer's Sewing Machines and linen. For 18 he would sell a "3 stone diamond and platinum, cross-over, very choice ring", or foe 38, a diamond and platinum, large half-hoop". for 1/6, Berkmann offered "best quality, balanced, silver-handle knives".

A more realistic view of the function of the pawn shop is found in the same "For Sale" column where dozens of people have paid money to advertise their own pawnbroker's tickets for sale.


Sydney Loan Office: Money Lent ... two images of an indusstry fading fast on William Street. The night shot taken in 2012; the day shot taken at the end od 2015. The real-estate listing indicates that this freehold property exchanged in July 2015 for $2,300,000. It has rear access from Premier Lane.

Is is numbered 187-189 William whereas the 1916 Pawnbroker (for that is what they all are), is numbered 193. They are about equidistant from Forbes Stree, so it would not surprise me if it was rebuilt as a pawnbroker's shop after the 1916 demolitions.

Thes listing shows front and rear access to the building, and indicates that the 1916+ rebuild is the ONLY rebuild since then.