Terraces/Harbour Rocks Hotel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


Terraces/Harbour Rocks Hotel

Item details

Name of item: Terraces/Harbour Rocks Hotel
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Location: Lat: -33.8598301046 Long: 151.2080930090
Primary address: 42-52 Harrington Street, The Rocks, NSW 2000
Parish: St Philip
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Sydney
Local Aboriginal Land Council: Metropolitan
Property description
Lot/Volume CodeLot/Volume NumberSection NumberPlan/Folio CodePlan/Folio Number
LOT14 DP773812
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
42-52 Harrington StreetThe RocksSydneySt PhilipCumberlandPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
Sydney Harbour Foreshore AuthorityState Government 

Statement of significance:

These terraces and site are of State heritage significance for their historical and scientific cultural values. The site and building are also of State heritage significance for their contribution to The Rocks area which is of State Heritage significance in its own right.

The site of the terraces is of historical significance as part of the original hospital garden and of subsequent buildings until the construction of the terraces between 1873-1875. The terrace at 42-52 Harrington Street is of historical significance as part of the 19th century residential building stock of The Rocks. The terrace has aesthetic significance as it forms part of a strong visual precinct with Nos 42-52 and Nos 55-71 on the other side of the street, and also relates to the buildings at 39-47 Argyle Street. The terrace makes an important contribution to the streetscape and is representative of the terrace housing constructed for the working classes throughout The Rocks area and other parts of Sydney in the late 19th Century.

The ability of both buildings to demonstrate the principal chararcteristics of their type has been reduced by the extent of internal alteration, particularly in relation to the terrace houses.
Date significance updated: 01 Apr 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.


Construction years: 1873-1875
Physical description: Nos 42-52 Harrington Street is a row of six two storey terrace houses stepped up Harrington Street of rendered brickwork. The steeply pitched roofs are of corrugated iron, the windows are double hung of twelve panes with sandstone sills. There is a characteristic Georgian flattened brick arch over the windows. (Collingridge 1978) In the conversion to a hotel in 1989, the two front rooms on the ground and first floors have been retained as individual suites, with access passageways built to the rear. An opening has been made in the walls between the rooms, and the bathrooms have been created in the rear room.
In 1989, work was completed on the conversion of the Stores and the adjoining terraces at 42-52 Harrington Street, with shops, bars and restaurants facing Nurses Walk to the rear. (SCRA Annual Report 1989: 31)
Style: Georgian; Storeys: Two; Facade: Brick; Roof Cladding: ?
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Archaeology Assessment Condition:Below ground archaeological remain in the form of wells or cesspits may remain
Date condition updated:08 Jan 09
Modifications and dates: By 1989: The warehouse and the adjoining terraces were converted to the Harbour Rocks Hotel, and the facilities facing Nurses Walk were constructed.
Further information: The terraces were constructed between 1873 and 1875
Current use: Pub / Hotel
Former use: Pub / Hotel


Historical notes: The site was originally part of the hospital gardens.The land is shown on 1834 map (Robert Russell Survey of Allotments, 1934) as reserved for Presbyterian Church. In 1841 is shown as 'Open space as left by Government'.

It was not until 1871 that a deed of grant was issued for the land and five months later the Presbyterian Church sold the land to Henry Bradburn Dobson, Louis Jacobs and Sydney Jacobs. Just over a year later they sold the land to Walter Bradley, an auctioneer from whom Henry Dobson repurchased the land in his own right. Dobson was a Sydney builder, but the Jacobs were importers and it seems likely that their role was as Dobsons temporary financers.

The 1873 sale plan shows the allotment divided into four lots each with a frontage of 20 feet to Harrington St but when Dobson built on the land he constructed six terraces fronting Harrington St with another six built at a lower level behind them. These houses had frontages to the land left vacant by the government in the original subdivision which was reached by Reynold's Lane. Finance for the construction of the houses was provided by a series of mortgages from Edward Terry in 1873, the auctioneers Edward Raynes and Josiah Richard Treeve in April 1874 and George Thornton in February 1875. The houses were built during this period and were described as 'recently-erected' when put up for aution in May 1875 by Raynes, Treeve & Co. James McClellan, a teacher, purchased the the houses. Sobson had borrowed heavily on the properties and went into voluntuntary insolvency being unable to meet his repayments to the Bank of New South Wales.

McClelland, who seems to have got something of a bargain remained the owner of the twelve houses until 1885. The sales notices indicated that the houses attracted respectable tenants, tradesmen rather than labourers, and they enjoyed considerable period of occupancy. Unlike the terraces next door, all the houses had backyards and the necessary outbuildings. The property changed hands four times in the period from 1885 until resumption in 1900 but there were no major breaks in tenancies.

After the government resumed the properties in 1900, the six houses at the rear facing Harrington Lane were demolished between 1911 and 1914. The condition of the remaining houses on Harrington St seems to have been rather rudimentry and the City Council issued several orders for the houses to be repaied and renovated in the 1920s and 30s. Electricity was provided in the late 1930s provided the tenants agreed to an increase in their rent. Although many of the tenants remained in the same houses for years, rent arrears were quiet common and the Maritime Services Board appears to have been comparatively relaxed about this situation. Over a period of 30 years from the 1920s to the 1950s the rent increased from 1 pound a week to 1.7shillings, by the 1970s when the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority acquired the houses the rent increased between 1971 from $8.40 to $20 by 1975.

For a short period in the 1920s Joplins Manufacturing Company in the adjacent stores also rented two of the terraces reducing the number of residences to four, but they gave up no 44 in 1927.

The date that the houses became vacant is not known but from the late 1980s the decision to amalgamate the terraces with developments on the adjacent site to provide a viable commerical premises resulted in their redevelopment as part of a new hotel, a consideralbe move 'up market' from their origins. The submission by the Tara Hotel Group was recommended to the Minister on financial and architectural grounds. The proposal was for a budget hotel using the stores and terraces with new construction at the rear. The new development took place in 1988 and the Harbour Rocks Hotel was opened in 1989. Since then changes for disabled access, the rearrangement of the restaurant and bar areas and the provision of balconies at the rear have occurred.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Agriculture-Activities relating to the cultivation and rearing of plant and animal species, usually for commercial purposes, can include aquaculture (none)-
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)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site of the terraces is of historical significance as part of the original hospital garden and of subsequent buildings from 1850 until the construction of the terraces between 1873 and 75. They meet the criterion at a State level.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The terraces do not meet this criterion
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The terraces have aesthetic significance as it forms part of a strong visual precinct with the former stores building at Nos 34-40 and Nos 55-71 on the other side of the street and also relates to the buildings at 39-47 Argyle St. The terraces make an important contribution to the streetscape. The terraces meet this criterion at State level.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The terraces do not meet this criterion
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Any remains associated with the hospital garden, artefact deposits or features association with the hospital building or auxiliary structures such as kitchens or wells, have the potential to retain information about a number of themes, such as alienation of the place after 1788, provision of early health facilities and the on-going development of the site.
SHR Criteria f)
The terraces do not meet this criterion as there a number of other examples of their kind, some better preservd internally within the local area
SHR Criteria g)
The terrace at 42-52 Harrington St is representative of the terrace housing constructed for the working classes throughout The Rocks area and other parts of Sydney in the late nineteenth century and visible in many historic photos. The plainess of the exterior is more likely to relfect economy rather than style. The terraces meet this criterion at local level.
Integrity/Intactness: Below ground archaeological remains could exist in the form of wells or cesspits.
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.

Procedures /Exemptions

Section of actDescriptionTitleCommentsAction date
57(2)Exemption to allow workStandard Exemptions SCHEDULE OF STANDARD EXEMPTIONS
Notice of Order Under Section 57 (2) of the Heritage Act 1977

I, the Minister for Planning, pursuant to subsection 57(2) of the Heritage Act 1977, on the recommendation of the Heritage Council of New South Wales, do by this Order:

1. revoke the Schedule of Exemptions to subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act made under subsection 57(2) and published in the Government Gazette on 22 February 2008; and

2. grant standard exemptions from subsection 57(1) of the Heritage Act 1977, described in the Schedule attached.

Minister for Planning
Sydney, 11 July 2008

To view the schedule click on the Standard Exemptions for Works Requiring Heritage Council Approval link below.
Sep 5 2008

PDF Standard exemptions for works requiring Heritage Council approval


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - State Heritage Register 0161110 May 02 852865

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
SCA Register 1979-19981998B086, AR076Sydney Cove Authority (SCA)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenOrwell & Peter Phillips2007Conservation management plan, Evans Stores 34-40 Harrington St & Terraces 42-52 Harrington St
WrittenSCA1995Historical Information (Susan Duyker) - see Building Data Sheet HP/30
TourismTourism NSW2007Harbour Rocks Hotel View detail

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: Heritage Office
Database number: 5053228

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