Illustration: 'Miller's Point' by Joseph Fowles/ State Library of NSW

George Street Quarry, The Rocks

The land now occupied by the Metcalf Bond Stores (66-84 George Street) and the buildings on either side of it was one of the first major quarries in Sydney and the largest of a number of quarry sites in The Rocks. It provided the stone for many of the surviving stone buildings in The Rocks. The quarry extended from what is now the Hickson Road in front of Campbells Cove all the way back to George Street. By the time quarrying ended, the ground had been levelled flat to the level of Hickson Road, with a sheer vertical cliff face alongside George Street from its junction with Hickson Road to the Harbour Bridge approaches. This area was progressively filled by buildings. Metcalf Bond Stores were built on the quarry site between 1912 and 1916.

Records of which buildings were erected from which stone quarries in The Rocks and Millers Point areas no longer exist, likewise there are no surviving records as to when quarrying at the various sites around The Rocks began and ceased. As a connsequence we can only guess at where the stone for each building came from. One thing we can say with a degree of certainty is that the stone for the buildings in The Rocks would have been quarried locally, as it was in plenteous supply and there are no records or indications that sandstone was brought in from other sites around Sydney. Therefore we have bundled the sandstone buildings of The Rocks all together here under the broad heading of George Street quarries.

Buildings made from its sandstone

Argyle Stores, 14-20 Argyle Street, Sydney (1826 onwards): The complex of stone buildings known collectively as Argyle Stores include substantial remains of one the earliest surviving commercial buildings in Sydney. The complex contains the earliest surviving building occupied for use as a Customs House from 1830 until 1850. These buildings are believed to be among the first historic buildings in NSW to be recycled for new uses in a way designed to respect the earlier historical significance of the site.

The original building on the site was a simple Georgian sandstone building roofed with slates, the first use of this roofing material in the colony. The numerous brick Victorian additions were made in the19th century during various ownerships. Under the buildings solid sandstone cellars are covered by massive hand hewn timber beams whilst upper floors are in heavy timber post and beam construction.

Campbell's Storehouse, Circular Quay West: A row of sandstone bond stores built by successful merchant Robert Campbell to house the tea, coffee, sugar, spirits and cloth he imported from India. Originally a one storey structure comprising of 12 bays, the upper storey was added in 1890. Eleven of the 12 bays survive and today house a number of shops, galleries and restaurants. Stone used in the contruction of these buildings would have been quarried on site.

Merchants House (former Counting House), 43-45 George Street, The Rocks (1848) : A Greek Revival style merchant's town house and office consisting of five levels including basement kitchen, ground floor dining room, first floor drawing room, bedrooms and servants quarters. The planning is typical of a late Georgian period townhouse with kitchen, scullery, and cellars in the basement; ground floor dining room, parlour, and entrance hall; first floor drawing room with French doors onto a cantilevered balcony, and bedrooms on the upper two floors. Architect: John Bibb.

Reynold's Cottages, 28-30 Harrington Street, The Rocks (1823-29): Two x two storey Georgian stone structure with a brick and skillion addition to the rear facade. Built for Thomas Ryan, these cottages, originally one room deep, are amongst the earliest remaining domestic buildings in The Rocks. They were purchased in October, 1830 by Irish convict and blacksmith, William Reynolds.

Cadman's Cottage, George Street, The Rocks (1816): The oldest surviving residence in the City of Sydney, this four-room sandstone cottage was built to house the Governor's boat crew and is very much a basic, no-frills colonial cottage. In 1827. It became the home of the Governor Boats Superintendent, John Cadman, a former convict, after whom it is named. Originally a single storey house, the second storey was added during the 1850's. The stone wall at the rear of the cottage below George Street was erected at the same time as the cottage and formed part of the retaining wall behind the Governor's boat house and shipyard, which was next door.

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