Sir William Wallace Hotel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Sir William Wallace Hotel

Item details

Name of item: Sir William Wallace Hotel
Other name/s: 11 Cameron Street
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Primary address: 31 Cameron Street Birchgrove, Birchgrove, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
31 Cameron Street BirchgroveBirchgroveLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

No. 31 Cameron Street, the Sir William Wallace Hotel, is of local historic, aesthetic and social significance as a representative example of a Victorian Filgree corner Hotel that has continued to serve local workers and residents since 1879. Despite some alterations and additions to the rear and sides, the building significantly retains its overall scale, form, character and details as it presents to the corner, including the brick facades, splayed corner, sandstone basement along the Cameron Street façade, roof form, posted balcony and pattern of openings. The building occupies an elevated and prominent corner site and overall makes a positive contribution to the Cameron and Short Street streetscapes and intersection.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.

Council's Library Service has identified photos and/or subdivision plans relating to this item which may be viewed online through the council website at Select Library & Local History to get to the Library online catalogue and keyword search "Called to the bar" for results.
Date significance updated: 11 Jan 11
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Physical description: Two storey plus basement painted brick Hotel on stone base with corner splay, hipped and skillion roofs clad in corrugated steel and rendered and painted brick chimneys. The building is constructed to the street frontages and corner of Cameron and Short Streets. An open balcony supported on timber posts extends over the pedestrian footpath and wraps around the corner of the building. The balcony has timber posts, cast iron lace balustrade and brackets on ground and first floor level and hipped roof clad in corrugated steel. The corner splay has timber panelled French doors on the ground and first floor levels. Several door openings are located on the ground floor of the Short Street façade. Timber doors and a basement opening is located on the Cameron Street façade. The building also has timber framed double hung windows and large windows and infill on the Cameron Street façade. A one and two storey skillion roofed wing extends from the rear of the building. A high painted brick parapeted wall with gate and roller door extends along the Short Street frontage.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In good condition. The roof cladding appears to have been painted at some stage. The paint finish is now peeling and some of the cladding is lifting and warping.
Modifications and dates: 1976: Ventilation hood (14532).
2003: Installation of air conditioning and relocation of kitchen exhaust fan to the Sir William Wallace Hotel and associated works (D/2003/515).
2005: , Part demolition, excavation and basement, ground and first floor additions and alterations to the Sir William Wallace Hotel, including an enlarged bar area and a new restaurant at first floor level (D/2005/77).
Further information: The building appears to have been extended into a terrace house to the east with party wall with rendered chimney and infill of the ground floor façade evident. The ground floor side doors along Short Street appear to have been replaced and modernised with tiling and terrazzo thresholds added to the door openings. Signage elements have been added to the façades.
Current use: Corner hotel
Former use: Corner hotel


Historical notes: Surgeon William Balmain was granted 550 acres and most of the area now encompassing Balmain in 1800. In 1801 the entire grant was transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and advertised the land for sale in 1823. However, the sale was not a success. He gave power of attorney to his Sydney-based agent and merchant, Frank Parbury, who commissioned Surveyor John Armstrong to subdivide part of the land. This subdivision and sale of this land took place in 1836 and commenced from the eastern end of the suburb (East Balmain) due to its proximity and convenient water access and later spread west.
The site is located on land originally purchased in 1836 by land speculators Curtis and Lamb. The land was subsequently purchased by Captain Rowntree and Thomas Holt, who established a slipway and dry dock on the waterfront. Thomas Mort was impressed with the bay and joined them in their venture. Mort later accepted a transfer of most of the land around the dock and commissioned Surveyor Reuss to layout a township of 700 modest residential allotments. It took forty years from 1857 for the town to be fully occupied. Just over half of the allotments had been sold by 1878, but by 1898 the streets created within Morts Town of Waterview - Mort, Church, Phillip, Short, College, Rowntree, Curtis, Spring and Cameron Streets were filled with an assortment of houses. Small groups of corner shops and hotels were also established to serve the local community.
The Hotel was constructed in 1879. A Sydney Water plan (Balmain Sheet 8) dated 1887 and revised in the early 1890s shows the Hotel on the corner site. The building adjoins three terraces along Cameron Street with a small attached wing extending from the rear of the building along Short Street. The building is constructed to the street frontages and appears to incorporate the first terrace to its south which has a verandah facing Cameron Street. A large yard extends behind the Hotel and attached terrace with a detached structure shown in the northern corner on the Short Street frontage.
Tooth & Co operated the hotel from some time, however, it has been privately owned for many years. It would appear that some additions and alterations have been undertaken to the rear of the building and adjoining terrace.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site is part of an early subdivision and late Victorian period of development in the local area constructed in 1879.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site is part of the Morts Town of Waterview and associated with a number of land speculators. The building was one of a number of Hotels that served Morts Dock and one of two Hotels near the Balmain Coal Mine.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of aesthetic significance as a two storey Victorian Filgree style corner Hotel. Despite some alterations and additions to the rear, the building significantly retains its overall scale, form, character and details as it presents to the corner including the brick facades and splayed corner, sandstone basement along the Cameron Street façade, roof form, posted balcony and pattern of openings. The building occupies an elevated and prominent corner site and overall makes a positive contribution to the Cameron and Short Street streetscapes and intersection.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The hotel is of social significance as local corner hotel that has continued to serve local workers and residents since 1879.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a good representative example of a two storey late Victorian period corner Hotel constructed in the late 1870s.
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

It is recommended that: - the existing two storey scale, character and details of the building particularly the brick facades and face stone base along Cameron Street, roof form, posted balcony and associated details and pattern of openings be retained and conserved; - the balcony should remain open and any replacement and repairs should be undertaken to match the existing details and fabric; - no new openings should be made on the street facing facades; - the stone base along Cameron Street should be retained and conserved. The stone should remain face stone; - any further alterations and additions should be restricted to the rear of the building and western portion of the site and should not detract from the existing form, character and scale of the building as presents to the Cameron and Short Street intersection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I52323 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1940544

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