Summer nights in Arthur Circus were wonderful times. … You could go round there at night and you were really in the centre of Battery Point and you’d play marbles and the sort of cards you’d flick against the wall and toss up in the air a bit like 2-up. … Just on dusk at tea time, you’d hear all the mothers come out calling for their kids ‘Tommy, Tommy time to come home!’ … We used to have a huge crowd there of kids … Yes they were very fond memories … .
Bill Foster talking about his childhood in the 1930s
Arthur Circus allotments were sold in 1847 by Lieutenant Governor Arthur, who had acquired the land in 1829 in dubious circumstances. Henry Jennings had bought the land very cheaply from Robert Knopwood’s creditors and sold it almost immediately to Arthur, who would have realised that his planned waterfront developments would dramatically increase land value.
For over 100 years, the crowded working-class cottages in Arthur Circus housed large families whose livelihood depended on the waterfront. Today these cottages sell for over $1,000,000. Their attraction and value lies in their proximity to the city, waterfront and place of work, just as it did in the 1840s. Ironically, it is only in recent years that the words of the 1847 auctioneer, Mr John Charles Stracey, have finally come to pass.
[T]his neighbourhood will inevitably become The Resort of the Beau Monde. – The Courier 3 March 1847
In the past, everybody knew everybody else and if anything was wrong, people would help. When we came back (in 1971 after 20 years away), that was all gone because half the people… you didn’t know them anymore. … All the people have gone … all the people you knew … it’s not the same. The community, especially in the Circus… it’s not the same … Eight of the houses here in Arthur Circus are rented out … bought by people on the mainland to rent out … and you don’t get the same community – I mean you get some nice people come and live there, but after six months they’re gone.
– Long-term Battery Point resident