Hinchcliff House is named after wool broker Andrew Hinchcliff, who built and operated a wool store on the site in the nineteenth century. “Hinchcliff’s Wool Store” is still visible in raised stone lettering on the side of the original building today.
The first of the two matching structures was built in the late 1870s and the second a few years later.
The stonemasonry, gabled roofs, hardwood internal structure, catheads and surviving pulley systems are historically significant relics of a period when Circular Quay was the centre of Australia’s international shipping trade. On April 2nd of 1999, the buildings were added to the New South Wales State Heritage Register.
The site also has a rich social history. In 1949, it became home to the Society of St Vincent de Paul; in 1952, part of the building was used as the Matthew Talbot Hostel for Homeless Men – which included dormitories, a bookshop and soup kitchen on the ground floor, as well as a barber’s shop and laundry in the basement. When the hostel moved to a larger premises in 1966, a new chapel was created on the ground floor of the northern structure, before its most recent use as an international English school.
Perhaps the building’s most iconic remnant is a statue of a gilded sheep, which has been carefully restored and still sits proudly on the northern parapet.