The name of this Invermay Street is of great interest. Albion was the ancient name for the Island of Britain.
Greek writers of the 6 th century BC refer to the “islands of the Albions”, translated as “white land”. The Romans explained it as reference to the white chalk cliffs of Dover. Sometimes Albion seems to refer mainly to Scotland. Some scholars maintain albion is a Celtic word meaning “the land”.
“Albion” has been a frequent name used for British and naval ships, and it was the whaler HMS Albion in which Lieutenant John Bowen arrived at Risdon on 12 September 1803 to establish the first British settlement in Van Dieman’s Land. Whilst in transit from Sydney, the ship took three whales. David Collins recorded that HMS Albion on her first voyage from England travelled “the quickest of any ship that has yet come to the Colony”, leaving London in March 1799 and reaching Sydney in the remarkable time of 187 days.
Albion has also been a popular name for Inns, and there was once an Albion Inn on the corner of George and York Streets, and another at Breadalbane. In Hobart, the Albion Inn in Elizabeth Street was the terminal for the coaches between Hobart and Launceston. In England, Albion Inns often display as their sign the picture of a sailing ship.
Albion is a street name found in London, Sydney and many other cities.
“Albion House” in George Street is the name of the lovingly restored late Georgian home of Dr Eric and Mrs Patricia Ratcliff. It was built in about 1837.
When Captain Arthur Phillip arrived at Port Jackson he had to find a name for this new place, and at first considered calling the new settlement Albion. After toying with this idea he played safe with the title of the Secretary of State, Lord Sydney.
When Francis Drake reached America further up the coast than the Spaniards had reached before, he landed and took possession of the land in the name of Queen Elizabeth and named it “New Albion”, and had the name engraved on a brass plate and set up on a strong oak post among a crowd of “admiring” (more probably bewildered) Indians. No-one followed up this gesture, and in time the Spaniards spread up the coast and called the area by their own name, California, so that New Albion never was attached. A few years ago Drake’s brass plate was dug up in a bay near San Francisco, and this area is now called Drake’s Bay.