Moore's Stores and WharfLocation: Millers Point
Towns Square, at the western end of Walsh Bay at what was the actual geographical feature known as Millers Point, is a generally forgotten corner of portside Sydney, yet the waterside warehouse activities of the early 19th century here made an important contribution to industrial settlement and establishment of storage facilities at Walsh Bay and the Port of Sydney. Of particular historical significance is a group of 3 storey sandstone walled waterfront warhouses built by Captain Robert Towns in stages from the early 1830's to the late 1840's.
Captain Towns commanded emigrant ships to Australia in the 1820's building up a fast fleet of clippers and his ship "The Brothers" was the first to carry a full cargo of wool to England. He married the sister of the late W C Wentworth in 1833 and about this time began establishing himself in Sydney. By 1842 his firm was fully established at Millers Point and in 1844 he entered the whaling industry and Pacific and China cargo trades. He later did much to open up North Queensland and the city of Townsville was named in his honour. Historican D Sheedy records "Bobby Towns as he became affectionately known rose from humble beginnings as a boy on an English collier to become a leading figure in Australian Maritime and Pastoral industries".
Other stores he built in the late Victorian times have been demolished but this simple shore base at Moore's Wharf fortunately remains in good condition. Moore's Wharf Store was built of local sandstone (quarried on - site) using convict labour in 1836 -37 by William Long and James Wright, it was sold to Captain Joseph Moore and his son Henry who, in the early 1840's, added a fourth segment at the western end of the store to accommodate their expanding business as the colony's first agents for the P&O shipping line.
During the 19th century the store was the scene of many first occasions. In 1851 the clipper Phoenician loaded the first shipment of Australian gold to England from Moore's wharf. In 1852 the first P&O screw steamship to arrive from England, the Chusan, berthed there with the first mails brought out under contract. The tradition of carriage of the Royal Mail continued for over a century. The colony's first rail locomotive was unloaded there in 1855. For over 60 yeaars Moore's wharf was one of the busiest on The Point and it was not until the early 1900's that Moore's Road was renamed Dalgety Road.
During the early years of the 20th century, the landscape of Millers Point was totally changed subsequent to its resumption by the Government as part of the eradicatation of the Bubonic plague. The redevelopment included the creation of Hickson Road around the shoreline from Cockle Bay to Sydney Cove, but Moore's Stores stood in the way. Being a building of historic significance, it was dismantled and rebuilt stone by stone some two metres further back to make room for the new road and dock extensions. In 1978 redevelopment plans at Darling Harbour necessitated moving the building again. Maritime Services Board let a contract for $680,000 to take down the building stone by stone, and reconstruct it 50 metres west across the dock facing Walsh Bay. formerly the site of Town s Wharf. It was reopened in 1981 and now houses customs and delivery offices and amenities for port workers.