THE last chapter concluded at the site of the Sydney Hotel, where the Union Company’s new premises are in process of erection, and I mentioned the name of Sir John Jamison as the onetime owner of this site. With the mention of this gentleman there comes into one’s mind a picture of a Sydney long since departed. It was a Sydney of gargantuan entertainment and boundless hospitality, and at the head of the regal entertainers stood the “worthy knight of Australia,” Sir John Jamison.
He had a country house and estate, Regentville, on the Nepean River, where matters were conducted in a quite baronial style. He owned in Sydney, prior to 1831, the block of land bounded by Grosvenor Street, George Street, and a line between Jamison and Margaret Streets running up the hill until it met some land owned by the Scotch Kirk. Sir John determined to sell this land, and, in conjunction with Dr. Lang, a new street was run through from George street to York street. This is the Jamison street of today, but into the name, an “e” has unwarrantedly crept.
The opening of the street had one interesting result. A writer of the day says: “The venerable oak, the parent of all others in this colony, and which was planted by Lieutenant-Governor Francis Grose, is now for the first time exposed to the view of the public.” This tree stood in the garden of the Lieutenant-Governor’s house, to which reference was made in the last chapter. The sale of the land took place on September 29th, 1831. There were nineteen lots, seven with frontages to George street, and twelve to the new street. On part of the George Street frontage the premises of the Bank of Australasia were a prominent feature in after years.
In 1848, the premises of Thomas Smith and Sons, the well-known ironmongers of the day, were situated on the southern corner of Jamison street, and next that were the offices of the ill-fated Bank of Australia, which closed with a crash in February 1843.