A Quick Glimpse: Nicoll Wharf & George Wallace Nicoll

My Great Great Grandfather, George Wallace Nicoll

Hello, so I have accumulated a ton of material on the Nicoll’s and in particular, my Great Great Grandfather, George Wallace Nicoll. Remember I shared about Uncle Pete giving me the fob watch that belonged to my Great Grandfather a couple of posts ago? Well George is his Dad.

So in keeping with my new tradition of sharing a couple of short sweet posts, here is a quick glimpse at a time when George was leasing the Pacific Wharf at the end of Druitt Street in Sydney in the late 1890s.

This first photo I’m sharing with you, I took on an earlier trip to Sydney this year. Just out front of the Gresham Hotel.

It is looking down Druitt St towards Darling Harbour. And it got me thinking.

George ran his Steamship business from down the end of the street there somewhere on the left.

Figure 1: Courtesy of Macvean Family Archives

As you can see from the map of the area today, Druitt St no longer goes all the way down to the harbour and the wharf is long gone.

Figure 2: Courtesy of Google Maps

I found a couple of photos taken a little further down the street from where I stood that show what it used to look like, from 1934.

The first one looking back up to where I would be standing 87 years later.

Figure 3

The second further down Druitt looking at the end of the street with the unseen Pacific Wharf on the left.

Figure 4

These photos are the courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives, another fantastic rabbit hole to descend into.


The State Library had a couple of maps of the area from my GG Grandfather’s time, 1890s, one even with his name on it.

Figure 5

Note the highlighted section with G.W. Nicoll typed.

Figure 6

These maps are courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales.


I then stumbled onto a copy of a letter that he sent the Mayor in relation to problems with the entrance to the property. How bloody amazing, just sitting in the City of Sydney online archives.

Figure 7

This is the Council’s note of what the follow-up consisted of.

Figure 8

Figure 7&8: Courtesy of City of Sydney Archives


The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences had a great shot from the Kerry Glass plate collection of the City from Pyrmont, and it just happens to capture the Pacific wharf or Nicoll wharf at that stage.

Figure 9

Check out that clear detail. I’m fairly certain the wharf is the one with the dark hulled ship moored to it, with its bow pointed towards the bridge.

Figure 10

Figure 11

Figure 9 & 10: Courtesy of the Museum of Applied Arts and Science


Check out this phenomenal shot below. From 1873, the Nicolls’ were in the area, just not on this wharf yet. They were on the other side of the Pyrmont bridge at the foot of Erskine Street. Francis W. Robinson took this photo. He scaled the still incomplete Clock Tower of Sydney Town Hall to capture this view from the highest point in Sydney at that time.

It clearly shows the bottom of Druitt Street, with the ship docked at the very end. Not even sure if the later version of the wharf is even built yet, but it looks as though the first version is up and operating.

Figure 12: Courtesy of the City of Sydney Archives

How is this for a fantastic comparison? This is roughly the same spot in 2017, the latest shot Google Maps had of the area. That basically empty stretch of land on the Pyrmont side in the above photo, filled in and gone. I wonder what George would think if you could just transport him from 1899 to this spot today?

Figure 13: Courtesy of Google Maps

Here he is, just to remind you of who we are discussing here.

Figure 14: Courtesy of Nicoll Family Archive