Dr Michael Armstrong was born in 1951 and spent his early childhood in Millers Point where his family had a long association with the well-known Palisade Hotel. He talks about his family’s Irish roots, upward mobility, and hotels as places for meetings, social life, golfing clubs and more. In the excerpt below he talks about the necessity for preservation of the built heritage of Millers Point whilst the area undergoes dramatic change.
This interview is part of Housing NSW’s 2005 Millers Point Oral History Project. The City of Sydney acknowledges the State Library of New South Wales as the archival custodian of the project and digital preserver of the masters.
It is really important that the heritage of the area is preserved. I think people such as Jack Mundey [a leader of the Green Bans conservation movement] have helped keep Millers Point the suburb it is, or the area that it is rather than a suburb. It is really important that the natural quaintness and beauty of the place – Argyle Street, the Argyle Cut, Observatory Hill, Observatory Park, the old hotels, the old houses – it is really important that they are preserved as best as possible so that future generations can appreciate a bit about this part of Sydney.
I always think one of the tragedies of Millers Point was that St Brigid’s Infants School was closed down by the Catholic Church. I think every effort should have been made to keep that school going. It was established in 1835 and when it was closed it may have been in fact the oldest continuously operating educational institution in the country and I think it was a shame the Church saw fit to close it. I realise the reasons why it was done, but perhaps more effort could have been made.