King George V – Recreation Centre

  • Impressed stamp on reverse of plaque of “I. MO(R)ETON & SO(N)S” / “POTT(E)RS” / “New South W(ales)”.

  • Pair of leather work boots.

  • Selection of tableware and teaware.

  • John Moreton’s self-slipped fine earthenware decorative wall plaque. Scale 10cm.

The Project

An archaeological monitoring program was undertaken in July 2003. The land within the study area currently fronts onto Cumberland Street, The Rocks and is located at the southern end of King George V Recreation Centre. Remains found during monitoring were from three separate historic properties:

  • Footings of a building, presumably a house, 141 (127) Cumberland Street
  • The base of a cesspit, 137 (125) Cumberland Street
  • A well backfilled with artefacts from 88 Princes Street

Historical Background

There are two series of house numbers for the study area. The original house numbers are those taken from the 1858 plan and used in relation to the early Sands and Council Rates. By 1880 the second series of street numbers are in use. The early street numbers are 135 to 141 and the second series are 121 to 127. The house at 88 Princes Street was demolished by 1882. Numbers 88 to 90 Princes Street and 135 to 139 (123 to 127) Cumberland Street were all located within a property owned from c1807 to 1882 by Elizabeth Boulton and her heirs. It was sold off in the 1880s. Number 141 (127) was on a separate property and owned by Andrew Coss, John Johnson, and Henry Johnson until it was resumed in the early 1900s.

Well Artefacts

The majority of the artefacts recovered from the site were from the well fills. The artefacts recovered from the well included ceramics (151), building materials (22), glass (51), metal (63), miscellaneous (132) and organic leather (150).

The most significant artefact found was the Moreton decorative wall plaque, signed on the back with the mark of the former convict potter John Moreton and his sons (1835 to 1837). John Moreton was a trained potter who had worked with Josiah Wedgwood in Burslem prior to his conviction for burglary in 1819 and his subsequent transportation to Australia later that same year.

An extensive collection of shoe and boot leather was also recovered from the well. The leather was associated with a shoemaker however no shoemaker lived within the properties within the site. A shoemaker, Frank Mustow, lived at 129 Cumberland Street between 1858-59 to 1865, and so the leather footwear and offcuts most likely came from nearby.

The well was backfilled in c1870. Elizabeth Boulton owned the land containing the well and the cesspit from c1807 to 1866 when she died. Her children continued to own the property until the 1880s. It is likely that Elizabeth Boulton had owned the Moreton plaque and many of the non-leather items found in the well.


Casey & Lowe were commissioned by City of Sydney to undertake the archaeological monitoring of the site. Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is the owner of site and is the artefact repository.


The photos used in this report are by Casey & Lowe excavation team, artefact photos are by Dr Mary Casey and Tony Lowe, the Moreton Plaque photo was taken by Russell Workman. Plans and images are from State Records and the Mitchell Library, State Library of NSW.


King George V – Recreation Centre


July 2003


The Rocks

Sydney, The Rocks