Amongst the curiosities to find a home in the proposed Australian Historical Museum, I think we shall have to include a toll bar, Young Sydney has never had the opportunity of gazing upon one of these relics of the past, the last remaining bar in the vicinity of Sydney disappearing when the Randwick road toll gate was swept away some 20 years ago. The toll house, shown in below, was the most ornate toll bar that Australia ever possessed. It stood in George street, close to the site of the tram waiting-room opposite Quay street and the entrance to the Central Railway Station, and was erected in 1819, by Governor Macquarie from a design by Greenway.
THE GEORGE STREET TOLL BAR IN 1829
The Toll-house was erected in 1819 and stood on the site of the tram waiting-room, Railway Square, opposite Marcus Clark’s premises. This picture was drawn ten years later from a spot now part of the railway premises. The church with the steeple is St James’ and the windmill to the left of it stood on the site of the Grosvenor Hotel.
This was one of the buildings which excited the ire of Mr. Commissioner Bigge. He has a number of references in his report to the ornate character of Greenway’s buildings, and in one case he wrote that a building “appeared to me to possess a defect common to all his plans, of making too great a sacrifice of time and labour to the purposes of ornament and effect.”
Greenway evidently was in advance of his age. The toll house, as may be seen, was in the Gothic style, and so far as one can judge from the picture, did not suffer from over-ornamentation. It continued in use until the toll bar was removed to Parramatta Road, and was then converted into a lock-up, a duty it fulfilled until the Police Station on the corner, on the site now occupied by Marcus Clark, Ltd., was ready for its occupants.