The following story was posted on 9 September 2014 and revised 13 February 2019.
The Workers Flats of High Street were built for waterside workers early last century. Until a few years ago many were still occupied by families will long ties to the street. Ellie Byrne and her family were the first occupants of one of the High Street flats. She was remembered by many who lived in the neighbourhood until 2016. Before High Street was built, Ellie lived in old Hart Street before it was demolished and excavated to create Hickson Road and High Street:
‘I was born in 1908 in Millers Point. My parents were born in Kent Street and my grandparents came from Ireland, individually in the 1870s. They met here and remained in Millers Point all their married lives. They had a family of two girls and three boys and lived in 54 Kent Street. My mother married and settled in Hart Street where we were all born. Hart Street was pulled down because it was very old and the rats were causing problems. The people had to live with relations until the houses in High Street were built. Then as they completed a block of four the people were moved in. There were seven of us and we moved here when I was a small child 77 years ago.’
(text from St Brigid’s parish records as quoted by Shirley Fitzgerald, photo from City of Sydney Archives)
Most of Millers Point was radically reshaped by work associated with rebuilding the wharves of Walsh Bay and Cockle Bay (now Barangaroo), the great Millers Point wool stores and these Workers Flats. Most of the housing in Millers Point, Dawes Point and The Rocks dates from this time. Similar to the High Street Flats are others in Windmill Street, Lower Fort Street, Dalgetty Road and Gloucester Street. See here for early photos and original plans of these Workers Flats and the Wharves of Millers Point. Here is her account of living in the area:
Long-term residents displaced from High Street include:
This is Hart Street, which disappeared during excavation for High Street and Hickson Road. The entrance to Hart Street was in Kent Street beside the Captain Cook Hotel and it ran west, down towards the harbour. High Street and Hickson Road now run parallel to the harbour. Click here to see other lost streets of Millers Point.
Liz sent this email about her family and growing up in High Street:
‘This whole issue of residents being forcefully evicted from Millers Point greatly upsets me. My mother’s family lived at The Point upon moving to Australia from Scotland in 1953. My grandparents, Jim and Jeanie Gold moved in with their two children, later welcoming another baby a couple of years after. I was actually born in my mum’s bedroom at number 6 High Street in 1969.
‘Some of my first memories are of going to preschool at The Lance Kindergarten, and of rolling down the hills of Observatory Hill ( smashing into the fence at the bottom). My nan would send me with her shopping list up to John Holly’s shop, where he would put her purchases “in the book” if money was short. Everyone knew everyone, and kids were safe to run around the streets having fun, there was always someone looking out for us.
‘Sadly, my Pa passed away when I was 13 years old, and my nan stayed at The Point until a couple of years ago, when she grew too frail to live on her own. She moved from 6 High Street to # 30 when the terrace was renovated about 20 years ago.
‘Nan passed away in 2012. I can only think that I am glad she isn’t a witness to this disgraceful real estate grab as it would have broken her heart.’