Nicoll’s Millionaires Row

I chose this title for this next section because it is, as my latest discovery has revealed, what my 3x Great Grandfather George Robertson Nicoll was sitting on. If only it was still in the family.

So I’ve had this article for sometime now and thought to do some digging on it’s details.

It is referring to a parcel of land in The Rocks. I found a very cool set of old maps on the NSW State Library website and hazard a guess that it was in this area that I have marked in yellow.

Now the problem was that I just couldn’t find anything to confirm that it was George’s property. Property research for me just seems to be a bit hit and miss and so damn complicated. I’m sure it is a lack of skills on my part but I haven’t been able to tap that silo of info as yet. (Not giving up) Luckily for me though, I remembered on one of my visits to the NSW State Archives and Records center at Kingswood ( that I had seen something about property in the Rocks.

Seven houses, in Gloucester Street and numbered. What a find! Only issue, which I am discovering comes up quite a lot, small mistakes in names or details. The re: reads, “…Estate of G W Nicoll deceased” but it should read G R Nicoll as G W was still very much alive in Sept 1901. The next document also backs these details up and sealed my fate as a future poverty line fringe dweller.

Bruce Baird Nicoll is my 2x Great Grandfather’s Brother. You’ll note that this Memo’ is dated Nov 1901. The 08 stamp date will refer to my 2x Great Grandfathers probate hearing, I think as these 2 documents were in with the papers stored in his will paperwork. So lucky to find them. You will also see the Rocks Resumption Act has come up, this bit of info has lead to another couple of lucky finds.

This Act was enabled by the NSW Government to help combat the effects of the bubonic plague that was rife in the area at the time. Plans were drawn up as to the area that would be resumed, over 900 houses, wharves, shops and warehouses, encompassing most of the headland. (

I started digging into the maps, (which are awesome) and this appeared.

There it was, the confirmation I was looking for, his name and the property numbers, 84-96. I then wondered if there might be a photo of the property. Along with the maps a whole range of photographs were taken of the area at the time. So I started searching. The markings above the final E in GLOUCESTER in the map above are the entrance to a very famous historic pub, The Whaler’s Arms.

If you compare the line of sight in the map with this photo, it has to be one of those buildings down on the left, just which one?

I then worked out that the building in the center of this photo is The Ship and Mermaid, another very famous and infamous pub of the Rocks. On the map above it is shown as the stepped back property from the road and numbered as 374, which matches up with what is shown in this photo. The next property is vacant with the wall around and marked as 375 on the map, we then have the set of stairs in both the photo and the map which means…

This is George’s building, 84 – 96 Gloucester Street, note the 7 doors. I also found it in the background of another few photos.

That is the back of No. 96 at the top of the stairs on the right. The Pub at the top in front of George’s building is the Ocean Wave and the building to the left of George’s is T Holdaway, Fruitier and Grocer.

What a great find and an actual look into what George’s world was like. This is what it looks like today.

Google Maps

This is from as close as I can get to the vantage point in the earlier photo of the Whalers Arms. See how they have an outline of the old Pub on the screen above. This site is now an archeological dig site known as “The Big Dig” The pic below is almost the same position as the Ship and Mermaid photo.

Below is the only listing I could find in the Sands Directory for George ever having resided at the property.

And then on a very interesting final note, remember how I mentioned earlier that the Ship and Mermaid Hotel, one door up from 84 was famous and infamous, well check these out:

I also came across articles on Trove where it was stated that it was used to hold coronial inquiries on many occasions. What a shame that amazing piece of Sydney history and George’s row of town houses are gone.

2 thoughts on “Nicoll’s Millionaires Row

  1. This material is simply amazing. Really enjoying the ongoing information. Keep it coming, hugs… Miss Kay


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