Balmain Wharf Apartments are situated in a heritage building that dates back to the 1800’s. It was built in 1841 by shipwright John Bell, who also built a stone wharf adjacent to the building from which he operated his shipwrights yard.
It is effectively the first building in Balmain's main thoroughfare, and became one of only a few waterside establishments. Known affectionately as the peninsula’s first pub, it has a history as being a popular gathering spot for watermen at the time. Its history as a licensed establishment began when the building was leased in 1844 to William Walker and named “The Dolphin Hotel”. It was then claimed back by John Bell in 1846, who renamed it “The Shipwright’s Arms”.
The premises continued to serve ferry travellers and local residents despite changing owners several times until it was de-licensed in 1966. It has since been used for private residential and commercial purposes.
The sandstone walls are as they were back in the 1800’s and the structure of the building has remained relatively unchanged to preserve its original character. While the tram tracks that once ran up and down Darling Street are no longer existent, the ferry service out the front door is a strong reminder of the seafaring history of the area.