Supreme Court


​​Historical images: a series


The Supreme Court is pleased to announce that it will be publishing a series of historical images relating to the activities of the Court on this website. The full series of historical images published to date are replicated below.

These historical images highlight the long and interesting history of the Court that began with the proclamation of the Third Charter of Justice in Sydney on 17 May 1824. 

Historical Image #17

Court No. 3 at the King Street Courts, re-opened in August 2003 after a major program of refurbishment and upgrading. The Court Room was first used in August 1827.

Historical Image #16

The Royal Arms, the symbol of the authority under which the Supreme Court was established, beside the public entrance to the St James Road Banco Court.

Historical Image #15

The Banco Court, Court 2 King Street, in September 1880. The case illustrated is that of Judge Windeyer v Evening News, before Sir James Martin, Sir William Manning and Mr Justice Faucett.

The Evening News was brought before the Court for gross contempt after publishing an article that accused Justice Windeyer of an 'utter want of judicial impartiality' and of delivering 'a bitter one-sided advocate's speech' in his summing up in a libel case. The Court itself brought the action against the newspaper.

Historical Image #14

Justice Asprey's old chambers, formerly the Receiving Office of the Land Titles Branch in the Registrar General's Department. The room is located in the former Registrar General's Offices which now form part of the King Street Court Complex.

 The decorative scheme was reconstructed with fragments found during restoration, when the original tessellated floor was also uncovered. The room is now named The Alexander Dawson Room, after its architect.

Historial Image #13

For Remembrance Day 2018 - The Supreme Court commemorates the sacrifice and service of the New South Wales Legal Profession in the First World War in a public event by telling the stories of the New South Wales lawyers who were there. Please see here for event details.

The Supreme Court has also collected a number of written materials relating to the service of the legal profession in the First World War under the heading of The War Memorial Project. Please see here for details.

Historical Image #12

Queens Square in the 1930s: The Registrar General's Department on Prince Albert Road, part of a larger scheme for the transformation of Macquarie Street, has pride of place (right). Hyde Park is beginning to mature after open cut excavation to build the city railway. (Image courtesy of State Records NSW)

Historical Image #11


The photograph is of the officers of the First Brigade, with Henry Normand MacLaurin, barrister (Killed In Action 26 April 1915) who is  second from left. Solicitor Charles Melville MacNaghten is on the right. 

​​The images are part of a collection under the title of The War Memorial Project which has recently been published on this website. The aim is to recognise and acknowledge the service of members of the New South Wales legal profession in the First World War. The collection includes photographs, documents, articles and speeches on this subject.

Navigating the Site: The collection can be found at the by clicking on the link, Written Materials, the photographs by clicking on Photographs here​.​

Historical Image #10

The St James Road Banco Court and Chambers, designed by the government architect WL Vernon and built in 1895-96. Vernon's choice of materials and architectural style for the Banco Court, sympathetic to the original court house, was described by the architect Peter Bridges as 'in harmonious contrast' to its older neighbours.

(Image courtesy of Government Printing Office collection, State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #9

The Registrar General's Office in Elizabeth Street. One of a set of photographs of public buildings taken in 1872 at the request of the Secretary of State for The Colonies in London. The Supreme Court was not among the buildings chosen to be photographed, a clear indication of its lack of architectural merit.

(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #8

The King Street entrance to the Supreme Court c.1881. The arcade had been added in 1868 by the Colonial Architect James Barnet, to give the building some presence, to hide the Record Room and to provide a sheltered waiting area.


(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #7

The Supreme Court in 1848 with its unsheltered new entrance on King Street, as depicted by Joseph Fowles in his publication Sydney in 1848. The original Elizabeth Street entrance had been blocked up but the portico remained. The building, Fowles noted, had 'no pretensions to architectural beauty' and its site 'would give good effect to a building of more classic design'.


(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #6

Joseph Fowles 'View of Sydney Cove from The Rocks'. painted in the early 1840s shows a neat, clean and orderly town in which even the goats are well behaved. St James' Church and the Supreme Court (top right) dominate the end of Hyde Park.


(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #5

An extract from the 1966 NSW Law Almanac detailing the judges of the newly constituted Court of Appeal. The Court celebrates its 50th Anniversary with a Ceremonial Sitting to be held in the Banco Court on Monday 8 February 2016.


Historical Image #4

​The full bench of the Supreme Court in the St James Road Banco Court c. 1907. Left to Right: Justice Pring, Justice Cohen, Justice Sir William Owen, Chief Justice Sir Frederick Darley, Justice Sir George Simpson, Justice AH Simpson, Justice PW Street.


Historical Image #3

In Governor Macquarie's ​plan for Sydney, Elizabeth Street ended at the corner of Hyde Park, but by the 1840s it had become a leading thoroughfare and extended along the Park, running south for almost a mile as far as the burial ground. The Supreme Court's classical portico graced the street, but the Hyde Park side of the court house remained unfinished.

(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #2

Without its ornamental facade, the Court House was not quite the ornament to Hyde Park that had been intended, while horse racing, grazing and cricket left the park still bare of trees in the 1840s.

(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)

Historical Image #1 

The first in the series of images below is an early record of the buildings around Hyde Park that are described as Governor Macquarie's legacy. The buildings include the Supreme Court, St James' Church and the Hyde Park Barracks.

(Image courtesy of the State Library of New South Wales)