When the barrack square was cut up a new street was opened to York Street, and called Wynward Street after the commandant of the forces of the day. Among the buildings that sprang up on the line of the barrack wall after the sale, the two most notable were those of the Bank of New South Wales and the Commercial Bank. The former, in 1853, moved across from the other side of George Street, towards Hunter Street, and the latter, in 1854, from the site of Sargent’s restaurant, near King Street.
At first, as may be seen in the illustration “George street in 1856,” on page 21 there were two, shops separating the banks, but these in due time were absorbed, one by each bank. The Commercial, in 1867, added one story and absorbed their shop, and, in 1907, the building was enlarged to its present dimensions.
One cannot pass this bank without a mention of the G.O.M. of banking, Sir Thomas A. Dibbs, who joined the Commercial in 1847, and retired in 1915 after 68 years of service, 48 of which were as general manager. For a number of years, passers-by on the 31st October wondered as they heard cheers come from the bank. It was the staff’s pleasant greeting to Mr. Dibbs’ birthday, and a special cheer arose on October 31st., 1912, to mark his 80th birthday.
I have referred to the picture of George street in 1856; a visitor of 1840, referring principally to the portion of George street there depicted, says:— “George street seems to be, by common consent, considered as the ‘Pall Mall,’ or rather as the ‘Park,’ of Sydney, and up and down its hot, dusty, glaring, weary length go the fair wives and daughters of the citizens enjoying their daily airing. . . . In the afternoon, when the ladies of the place drive out, whole strings of carriages may be seen rolling about, or waiting near the more ‘fashionable emporiums,’ that being the term in which Australian shopkeepers especially delight.
The vehicles are sometimes motley enough in their equipment. Here and there appears a real London-built chariot, brilliant in paint and varnish, and complete in every luxury, with a coachman attired something like worthy Sam Weller, ‘as a compo of a footman, gardener, and groom,’ sitting on a box innocent of hammer cloth, and driving a pair of mean-looking, undersized horses, terribly out of proportion with the handsome, aristocratic-looking carriage behind them. . . . Various machines upon wheels of all descriptions are very numerous, from the close carriage and showy barouche or britzka to the more humble four-wheeled chaise and useful gig.”
In the picture may be seen between David Jones’ and the bank, one of the curious vehicles of the fifties. Within two years of this lady’s visit the picture reproduced on page 23 with the title of “George street at the Post Office in 1842,” was painted. In front of the Post Office will be noted what appears to be fair, where vegetables, fish, and produce of all kinds are on sale.
In both pictures appear the first premises of David Jones, afterward David Jones and Company, Limited. It was at this house that Mr. David Jones announced on May 24, 1838, that having dissolved partnership with Mr. Appleton “he has removed his business to those large and commodious premises opposite the Post Office.”