Proceeding down the hill we come to the Haymarket. When next you pass the northern intersection of George and Campbell streets, take a second glance for you are looking at the site of the pottery of Mr. Thomas Ball, who was established there in 1801 and claimed to be the first person to engage in the pottery business in Australia. On this site stood in later years the Woolpack Tavern opposite to which was the toll bar.
The old Haymarket building was erected in 1834. It was a red brick building resting on arches and fronted George street. The Market was closed in the fifties, and the building let as a grocery store. For a time after its use as an adjunct to the hay and corn market, the ground fronting Pitt Street was lying waste, but early in the sixties it was converted into an open-air market, and one need not be very old to remember Paddy’s market.
One of our poets, whose name in mercy I withhold, has ridden his Pegasus through the market, and while his steed nibbled the cabbages the poet delivered himself thus:—
“Hat sir? The very thing for you! Lettuce a penny each, or two
For threepence! Sausages! Now where
The devil are you pushing to?
Not Scylla—where the sirens sang—
With such a cheerful chorus rang.
And from the shooting gallery The noise is perforated—Bang!
Here desperate gamesters toy with fate,
The prowling bloke secures a mate,
The newsboy squanders all his wealth
On peas–a penny for a plate. An Asian sage extends a fan, I cannot hear him—no one can.
Persistent through the clamour stabs
The yelling of the peanut man.”
The City Council, in 1875, leased the George street frontage of the old Haymarket, on a 21 years’ building lease, and the row of shops now existing was erected. A story told of the Haymarket site relates that in the very early days a courageous individual retired into the country, and free-selected some six acres, including this site. This he placed in cultivation, but no sooner was this in a satisfactory state than the blacks descended on him in such war-like array that he abandoned his free selection, and rejoined “his fellow colonists at Sydney Cove, to find the security he had too incautiously abandoned.” 1 do not know if there is any connection between this story and the incident related by the late Obed West, in his recollections of Old Sydney.
In 1882, Mr. West contributed some reminiscences to the “Sydney Morning Herald,” and, dealing with this locality, he said:—
“As an instance of what value was put upon land by the original holders, I may mention the case of a piece of land known in the old days as ‘Tom Cribb’s Paddock.’ This block of ground commenced where the branch of the Commercial Bank is, at the corner of Hay and George streets, thence along the George street frontage past the watch house (now Marcus Clark’s corner), and up to a point opposite the gates of the Benevolent Asylum, thence all along what is now Pitt street to the corner of Hay street, and back to the point of commencement. On this ground, beside numerous shops and houses, Messrs. Horderns’ buildings, the gasworks, watch house, Christ Church, etc., are built, and yet Mr. Cribb sold back to the Government the whole of this now valuable block, which half a million would not buy, for nine heifers.”
Mr. West, himself, saw the Government order which was given for the delivery of the nine heifers.
There was no likelihood of the teamsters who came to the Haymarket suffering from thirst. I have before me a plan of this district in 1842, and between Orchard’s corner and Hay street, there are no less than five public houses. On the corner itself, just on the bend, stood, until comparatively recent times, the old Wheatsheaf Inn, which occupied about two-thirds of the footway—leaving but three of four feet for the traffic to pass. What landlord could ask for more? A door in the middle of the footway of George Street!
A little lower down the street was the Dog and Duck, a great resort of the waggoners and men from the country.
Next, that was the old Black Swan, then came the Steam Engine, and after that the Oddfellow. In addition to these, there were other public-houses in the vicinity, notably the Woolpack and the Square and Compass, patronised mainly by the turfites of the period.