Saturday, February 12, 2022






Crows Nest is a suburb on the lower North Shore of Sydney, New South Wales. It is also part of the North Sydney region, 5 kilometres north of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of North Sydney Council.


Name origin:

Crows Nest was originally part of a 524-acre (2.12 km2) land grant made to Edward Wollstonecraft in 1821. The grant extended from the site of the present day Crows Nest to Wollstonecraft.

Wollstonecraft built a cottage, the 'Crow's Nest' and, according to his business partner Alexander Berry, chose the name "on account of its elevated and commanding position".

Berry later built a more substantial Crow's Nest House on the estate in 1850, taking the name of the earlier cottage. This site is now the site of North Sydney Demonstration School.

The gates of Crows Nest House (added in the 1880s) still stand at the Pacific Highway entrance to the school. Berry died at Crows Nest House on 30 November 1873.

Edward Wollstonecraft (1783 – 1832)

Edward Wollstonecraft arrived in Sydney in 1819 and was granted 2000 acres of land of which 500 acres were located on the north side of Sydney. He became a magistrate and a director of the Bank of New South Wales and later the Bank of Australia. Wollstonecraft was considered chiefly responsible for maintaining the general financial liquidity of the colony’s economy in the 1820s.

In 1821 he and his business partner, Alexander Berry were rewarded with a grant of a further 10,000 acres on the Shoalhaven River on their undertaking to maintain 100 convicts. Today a north shore suburb of Sydney keeps his name alive.

Alexander Berry (1781-1873)

Alexander Berry was a Scottish-born surgeon, merchant and explorer who was given in 1822 a land grant of 10,000 acres (40 km2) and 100 convicts to establish the first European settlement on the south coast of New South Wales, Australia. This settlement became known as the Coolangatta Estate and developed into what is now the town of Berry, named in honour of Alexander and his brother David. Elizabeth Wollstonecraft, the sister of Edward Wollstonecraft, migrated to New South Wales and was married to Berry in 1827. Elizabeth, died in 1845 aged 63, at the Priory; a house owned by George Barney, on what was part of the Crow's Nest estate, where they were living at the time. Alexander Berry thereupon donated the land for a cemetery to the Anglican Parish of St Leonards. It was to be St Thomas' Cemetery, Crows Nest, the first burial ground established on Sydney's North Shore.

Crow's Nest House was completed in 1850 and Alexander Berry lived there until his death.His partner, Edward Wollstonecraft, died in 1832, with the entire Coolangatta estate passing to Alexander Berry.

Alexander Berry monument at Berry, NSW, Australia

The Berry Family Vault

Alexander Berry died on 17 September 1873 aged 91, at Crows Nest House. He was buried in family vault in St. Thomas' cemetery with his wife and Edward Wollstonecraft. The cemetery is now known as St Thomas Rest Park, and the graves are still present. Wollstonecraft had originally been buried in Devonshire Street Cemetery but was reinterred at St Thomas in the tomb Berry built for his wife.

Berry and his brother David were the colony’s first millionaires so could well afford the pyramid-shaped family vault. Now converted to a landscaped Rest Park, St Thomas’ contains monuments to many significant early settlers.

Crows Nest Cottage, c1885

Crows Nest House, c1869

From the 1890s the surrounding land was subdivided and sold and the house was demolished in 1933.

'Crows Nest' gates, North Sydney c1900-1910 & 2014

North Sydney Demonstration School on the Pacific Highway in North Sydney in 1932

The Gates of Crow's Nest House



Origin of the expression “crows nest:

The noun crow’s nest denotes a barrel or cylindrical box fixed at the masthead of a vessel, as a place for a lookout to stand. The crow’s nest was so called because of its shape and position at the top of the mast, and because its purpose was to accommodate a watchman. The name has also been applied to similar structures; for example, the following is the beginning of an article titled The Crow’s Nest, published in the Hereford Journal (Hereford, Herefordshire) of Wednesday 17th January 1849:

Such was the name given to a cage-like erection on the very summit of the cross of St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, placed there for the purpose of making an engineering survey of the metropolis and surrounding country, and only recently taken down.

According to the earliest instances of the word crow’s nest in its nautical sense, the contrivance was specifically invented for use on whaling ships, apparently in the early 19th century.

The English Arctic explorer and scientist William Scoresby Junior (1789-1857) attributed this invention to his father, the Arctic whaler William Scoresby Senior (1760-1829), in Explanation of some of the technical terms made use of in the foregoing Journal, appended to Journal of a voyage to the northern whale-fishery; including researches and discoveries on the eastern coast of West Greenland, made in the summer of 1822, in the ship Baffin of Liverpool (Edinburgh, 1823):

Crow’s Nest.—A circular box, like a small pulpit, fixed at the mast-head, for the accommodation of the captain or officer, when employed in navigating the ship through ice, or looking out for whales. This structure, which is extremely commodious, was the invention of Captain Scoresby senior, and is now universally used by the northern whalers.



Electricity Power House, 23 Albany Street, Crows Nest, New South Wales.

It is a heritage-listed electrical substation built in 1927 and was added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register on 2 April 1999.

Crows Nest Community Centre

Crows Nest Hotel, Willoughby Road

Crows Nest Willoughby Road

Crows Nest 1954

Tram tracks at Crows Nest Junction, early 1920s

Tram tracks looking down Willoughby Rd at Crows Nest Junction in 1920.

Hoyts Crows Nest Theatre

The Crows Nest Theatre was built for a Mr. H. Bolland and said to be the first in the area specifically designed and built for “talkies”. An unusual feature was a balcony that ran across the top of the proscenium. It was closed briefly in July, 1937 for alterations and modernised in 1948 by Hoyts who had taken over in 1945. Business in the 1950’s was good as the theatre was one of the few offering first run films. The 1960’s were not so good and the theatre closed in March 1965. It was demolished and a supermarket built on the site, using some of the theatre’s exterior walls.

Crows Nest Junction. Most likely a tram from Balmoral turning from Falcon Street onto Pacific Highway before heading to Lane Cove


No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.