Bell's Store and the Shipwrights Arms, Balmain East

Leichhardt Council is currently developing a Conservation Plan for the c1880’s stone building at 2-8 Weston Street Balmain. Council’s planning team are looking for information on the site’s history and any photographs of the building and surrounds prior to 1963.



Sometimes called Bell’s Store the 1880s stone building, set on the western foreshore of Darling Harbour at East Balmain, was for many years a base for Fenwick & Co. Fenwick’s were one of the longest running waterfront industries in Balmain – the company established by John Fenwick and his brother Thomas operated in the suburb from 1870 until 1986 – becoming part of the Brambles group of companies that year.


It is not known whether Fenwick & Co operated from the site before their purchase in 1883 or whether the main feature of the site -the stepped gable boat store – was built by Fenwick or the Bells. The sale of Bell‘s shipyard to Fenwick & Co included a wharf, store and the Shipwrights Arms Hotel. Since the 1960s the Shipwrights Arms has been a private residence.



Contact Aaron Callaghan at Leichhardt Council on email if you can assist with information or images of the site.


Bell’s Store, Balmain East c1990

Shipwrights Arms Hotel, c1930 courtesy Noel Butlin Archives






7 comments to Bell's Store and the Shipwrights Arms, Balmain East

  • Perhaps some other oldtimer like me (I’m 81) can supply a full list of tugboats operated by Fenwick & Co. I know for certain at least two tugs, the Heros and the Heroine, sailed out of Fenwick’s shipyard in East Balmain because I sailed in both of them as a Sparks during the late 1940s and have included accounts of these brief voyages in my autobiography, entitled Catastroscopes, obtainable from Gleebooks, Shearer’s and the University Co-op Bookstore in the inner west.

  • michael

    hi max
    i am working on a community-gardening based project in balmain, and want to talk to someone like yourself – about the old days, when the ports at balmain were very busy.
    specifically we are interested in reflecting some of the history of the area in our designs, but would like to talk to someone who can tell us a little bit about the significance of the ports to the area’s success. [and i want to record this for TV.]
    hope to hear from you soon,
    tel: 9518-9688

  • Steve Wilson

    Hi Max,

    I grew up as a child in Sydney and as my brother worked on the waterfront when Sydney was a working harbour, I got to ride on boats and tugs, particularly the vessels owned by Stannards which used to tie up the ships. I remember the Hero and Heroine,one of which was capsized in a gale,I believe in Wollongong? I also remember two later tugs called the Sydney Cove and Sirius Cove which I believe also belonged to Fenwicks. There is also a tug in my memory called the Woona,dont know the company but it had a large W on its funnel.
    Hope this is of interest.
    Steve Wilson

  • Nigel

    Hi Max,

    My wife is related to the Fenwick family.

    Hope you are still interested. We have a list of some 29 of the vessels operated by the Fenwicks between 1871 and 1986.

    It was the Hero that was lost at Port Kembla on 14 July 1960 when towing a 6000 ton freighter ‘Bulwarra’ in rough weather.

    List of the company’s vessels and year commenced service.

    J & T Fenwick 1871
    Spec 1876
    Victoria 1877
    Sarah L Hickson 1878
    Gleaner 1880
    William Langford 1883
    Leveret 1883
    Charlotte Fenwick 1884
    Advance 1884
    Day Spring 1889
    Newburgh 1892
    Hero 1892
    Vigilant 1892
    Lena 1899
    Kailoa 1902
    Gannet 1908
    Heroine 1909
    Heroic 1909
    Heros 1919
    Lindfield 1919
    Manly Cove 1938
    Farm Cove 1938
    Himma 1942
    MT Sydney Cove 1956
    MT Sirius Cove 1958
    MT Iron Cove 1964
    MT Camp Cove 1965
    MT Castle Cove 1967
    MT Spring Cove 1968
    MT Careening Cove 1970
    MT Shell Cove 1971
    MT Fullerton Cove 1975
    MT Sirius Cove 1975
    MT Botany Cove 1976
    MT Campbell Cove 1976
    MT Iron Cove 1982
    MT Manly Cove 1982
    MT Blackburn Cove 1983
    MT Shell Cove1986

    Hope this finds you well. We have other infomation on the Fenwick family including their 100 acre property where Roseland shopping centre now stands.


    • Christine

      Hello Nigel,

      My husband is related to the Fenwicks, (James Forster), and I am doing a family tree at the moment. I would be very grateful if you and your wife might have some information that could help us.

      Looking forward to hearing from you.


    • John warren

      My grandfather worked on those tugs around 1880.and we used to play in fenwiks paddock in punchbowl.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>