Photo: No 37, Lower Fort Street, Dawes Point, Sydney circa 1961 (Courtesy of millerspointcommunity.com.au)
Dawes Point is situated north-west of Sydney’s CBD next to Miller’s Point and just below the Harbour Bridge. During the early to mid 1800s it became a thriving maritime metropolis and it’s where both my second and third great-grandparents established their businesses and made their homes.
Fort Street was divided by a quarry in the 1820s and became known as Upper and Lower Fort Streets. Lower Fort Street was of particular interest to me, as my research showed, that Joseph Moore had bought Bligh House in 1837 and had lived there with Ann until 1844. Bligh House is located at No 43 Lower Fort Street (Now Clyde Bank House, which was once the Museum of Colonial Art, before it was beautifully restored and then converted into private business premises in 1995). This Georgian Villa was typical of the mansions where the prosperous merchants of the day lived. Joseph and his oldest son Henry had bought a wharf (Moore’s Wharf) and sandstone warehouse on Walsh Bay at Miller’s Point in the 1830s, and as Miller’s Point and Dawes Point are neighbouring suburbs, the location of Bligh House, with its uninterrupted view of the harbour, must have been the perfect location for Joseph and Ann to live.
Bligh House (now Clyde Bank)
View of Sydney Cove from Dawes Point-a painting by Joseph Lycett 1817-1818
After they were married in 1840, Ann and Mashfield Mason moved just down the road from Joseph and Ann to No 37 Lower Fort Street (see featured image). No 37, a Georgian townhouse, was constructed as a residence and merchant house by Thomas Dyer Edwards and Matthew Dysart Hunter who had gone into partnership as merchants in 1832 under the company name of Edwards & Hunter. Their company prospered and as a result several new partners joined the firm – William Fane De Salis, John Thacker and my second great-grandfather Mashfield Mason. Mashfield had come out from England in the mid 1830s, and I can only assume that he met Ann Bailey Moore, his future wife, through his merchant associates, who no doubt would have included Ann and Joseph, Ann’s parents and Henry, Ann’s older brother. I’d love to have been a fly on the wall when they met, maybe it was love at first sight!
I managed to contact the present owners of No 37, John Dunn and Margaret Bishop, and when they heard that I was a direct descendant of Mashfield and Ann Mason, they kindly invited Steve and I for a guided tour around their magnificent Georgian townhouse, and what a fascinating time capsule from the mid 1800s that was!
John and Ann are in the process of restoring the townhouse to its former glory and apparently it’s been a real labour of love, as the Heritage restoration rules and regulations are quite arduous. I can’t wait to see the final outcome!
The winding staircase at 37 Lower Fort Street
Wonderful tour… thank you Margaret and John!
You can see all the on-going renovations first-hand at: http://millerspointcommunity.com.au/the-place/lower-fort-street/37-35-lower-fort-street/
Margaret and John are part of the Millers Point Resident Action Group, a brave and resilient group of residents who are desperately trying to save their community from eviction by the government. Makes such interesting reading and I wish them luck!
The time between this post and my last post was considerable and I blame it on the ‘flu that’s been doing the rounds in NSW!
My next post is the real pièce de résistance of my journey into my Australian past… I look forward to sharing it with you…