|Historical notes: ||The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora. There is no written record of the name of the language spoken and currently there are debates as whether the coastal peoples spoke a separate language "Eora" or whether this was actually a dialect of the Dharug language. Remnant bushland in places like Blackwattle Bay retain elements of traditional plant, bird and animal life, including fish and rock oysters.
With the invasion of the Sydney region, the Cadigal and Wangal people were decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today. All cities include many immigrants in their population. Aboriginal people from across the state have been attracted to suburbs such as Pyrmont, Balmain, Rozelle, Glebe and Redfern since the 1930s. Changes in government legislation in the 1960s provided freedom of movement enabling more Aboriginal people to choose to live in Sydney.
(Information sourced from Anita Heiss, "Aboriginal People and Place", Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City http://www.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au/barani )
The first land grants were made in 1803 and 1806 to Surgeon John Harris who was granted 34 acres and then constructed and named Ultimo House in 1804. He named it Ultimo (meaning last month) as a result of a clerical error in his charge papers. There were further grants to Harris of 9 and 135 acres in 1806 and another 12 acres in 1818. He moved to his farm at Shanes Park (near St Marys) in 1821 but retained the estate and leased Ultimo House first to Edward Riley and then to Justice Stephen.
Proposed improvements along the first few miles of Parramatta Rd prompted subdivision by Harris along the Parramatta Rd and George Street frontages, and these were developed into houses, shops and public houses over the next 10 years. The remainder of the estate remained largely undeveloped and following Harris’ death in 1838, legal complications prevented further subdivision until 1859. Ultimo was incorporated into the City of Sydney in 1844 and the early 1850’s saw a number of major developments in Pyrmont and also in Ultimo to a lesser extent. Its close proximity to the city’s expanding central business district, Brisbane Distillery port and transport facilities made it an attractive area for housing. In 1853, the Sydney Railway Company resumed 14½ acres of the Ultimo Estate for a railway line to and with a terminus at Darling Harbour. The area was further subdivided in 1860 which established major north/south streets including Pyrmont, Harris, Jones and Wattle Streets although the roads were not fully formed until 1870. The west side of the estate was dominated by quarrying activities and the remainder used for dairying paddocks. Services including water and sewer came to the area in the early 1860’s and gas lighting between 1868 & 1872.
The population doubled during this time, and industry began to establish including Castlemaine Brewery in Quarry Street, Atlas Ironworks, and manufacturer and merchant Samuel Freeman in Harris Street. The early 1880’s saw a boom in housing in the area followed by Goldsborough Mort’s woolstores in 1883 and other substantial warehouse buildings including a large grain and produce store in Allen St, Waite & Bull’s woolstore in 1893, Winchcombe Carson No.1 in 1895 (in Wattle St) and Farmers and Graziers (between Wattle and Jones Sts). In 1892 the Ultimo Technical College opened in Mary Ann St. By the early 1880’s Union Square was established as a commercial centre and by 1900 most residential development had ceased by which time the Pyrmont and Ultimo Power Houses had opened and the new Pyrmont Bridge had been constructed. Most development in the 20th century was commercial and industrial and included additional woolstores, Pyrmont Incinerator (1934) , flour mills (1940) , additional power stations (1955) and the Government Printing Office (1960’s).
The church and manse were constructed c1888 and the hall completed in 1902. (Foundation stones)
(NE Register) The Presbyterian Church in Pyrmont and Ultimo has its origins in a Scottish Presbyterian Chapel established in Mount Street, Pyrmont by Dr John Dunmore Lang in 1842. This chapel was established at the same time as the Australian Steam Navigation Shipyard on Darling Island and was patronised by the Scottish shipwrights employed there, as well as by many Scottish stonemasons working in the quarries. This chapel appears to have operated until 1856, when it was taken over by the Free Church sect of Presbyterianism and it later became a local school. In 1864, Lang attempted to restart the Scottish Church in Pyrmont and leased, with a fixed price option to purchase, a block of land on Harris Street, near Gipps Street and erected a weatherboard Church. The various sects of the Presbyterian Church amalgamated in 1865 as the Presbyterian Church of New South Wales. Prior to this, John Harris (the second) had provided that a half acre block of his estate should be given to the Church of Scotland and, in the subdivision of the estate in 1859, the Trustees of the Estate had allocated such a block in Quarry Street. In 1864 Lang had not wished to use this block as, at that time, it was undeveloped, barren land. The Church sought to have the Quarry Street land sold to finance the purchase of the leased Harris Street land, but the Harris Estate Trustees objected and insisted that the Church should be built at Quarry Street. In 1880, the Church acquiesced, purchased the Harris Street land that had been leased, sold it almost immediately for double the price and used this money to pay for a new Church at Quarry Street. The Church building was completed in 1883 and the Manse in 1888. In 1902 a Church Hall was added, paid for largely by donations from Margaret Harris, who also laid the foundation stone. In April 1960, to allow for altered demographics, the Ultimo Church was allocated to the Dutch congregation of the Presbyterian Church, with English language services now being given at Redfern. In 1972, the Manse was given over for the Harris Centre, a community welfare facility. Although the Church's design has been attributed to architects Blackmann and Sulman, Sulman did not arrive in Australia until 1885.