Mainly residential since mid-nineteenth century. School built 1891-2.
When shipyards and timber firms arrived in Pyrmont in the 1840s, and large-scale quarries opened in the 1850s, John Street on the ridge above these industries – was a handy site for workers’ cottages. By 1850 Pyrmont had 130 dwellings, and had been incorporated in Sydney since 1844. Ordinary suburban services followed. Public houses opened, and so did Churches a Presbyterian Chapel in 1842, St Bartholomew’s Anglican Church in 1850, a school in Mount Street in 1857, and St Bede’s Catholic Church in 1867. In 1864 a police station opened.
By the early twentieth century, John Street was the centre of a working class population living in small cottages and relying on public houses for socialising. As the population increased, a public school was built: the substantial main block in 1891-2. As well as education, it provided amenities: only at school were many children able to have showers and baths, and from 1919 the gymnasium was a boon to athletes.