On the other side of the road we have today the magnificent Queen Victoria building. The first marketplace in Sydney was the open space in George Street, between the present Globe and Essex streets, but on October 6, 1810, Governor Macquarie announced his intention of removing the market to the piece of open ground (part of which was used by Messrs. Blaxland as a stockyard, etc.), bounded by York, Market, and George streets, and the burying ground on the south. It was to be called the “Market-square,” and was thrown open on October 25, 1810.
The author of that interesting book “Settlers and Convicts,” writing of this old market place as he knew it in the ‘twenties, says . “The settlers drove their drays into the open area amidst the old shed-like stalls that here and there stood for the occupation of dealers, and the whole was surrounded by the remains of a three-rail fence.”
He noted that there was no hay, but its place was taken by bundles of green grass, much of it almost as coarse as reeds. After his inspection of the market, he adjourned with his friends to the Market House, in the tap-room of which he met a motley crew. “Almost everybody was drinking rum in drams or very slightly qualified with water; nor were they niggard of it, for we had several invitations from those around us to drink. I could not, however, even at this early period of my acquaintance with this class of people, help observing one remarkable peculiarity common to them all—there was no offensive intrusiveness about their civility; everyman seemed to consider himself just on a level with all the rest, and so quite content either to be sociable or not, as the circumstance of the moment indicated as most proper. The whole company was divided into minor groups of twos, threes, and fours, and the dudeen (a pipe with stem reduced to three, two, one, or half an inch) was in everybody’s mouth. I think there was not an individual in the room, but one female, who did not smoke more or less, during the brief time we sat there.”
This writer also gives an interesting glimpse of the costumes of the lower classes of the day :–“Their dresses were of all sorts–the blue jacket and trousers of the English lagger, the short blue cotton smock-frock and trousers, the short woollen frock and trousers, fustian jacket and trousers, and so forth, beyond my utmost power of recollection. Some wore neck-handkerchief some none. Some wore straw hats, some beavers, some caps of untanned kangaroo skin. And not a shin in the room that displayed itself to my eyes had on either stocking or sock.”
The Scottish mechanics brought out by Dr. Lang erected the market buildings which were such a well-known feature of Sydney until the present buildings were erected. On the George street frontage of this building was the bookselling establishment of J. W. R. Clarke, whose father had the honour of publishing the first book of Henry Kendall’s verse.
The building with the cupola which adjoined the market on the south was the police court. It was designed by F. H. Greenway, Macquarie’s capable architect, as a market house, and ornamented this part of the town for many years. On the Druitt street end was the watch-house.