Uninhabitable crumbling 1850s Balmain East cottage secures $2.68 million price

Uninhabitable crumbling 1850s Balmain East cottage secures $2.68 million price
Uninhabitable crumbling 1850s Balmain East cottage secures $2.68 million price

A crumbling 1850s Victorian-era cottage in Balmain fetched $2.68 million at auction this morning. There were five bidders for the uninhabitable offering.

The much-publicised two-bedroom, 452-square metre offering at 3 James Lane, Balmain East boasts harbour views through the backyard jungle.

It last sold for $33,500 in 1973, according to research by Property Observer, when bought by the late noted gay lecturer Alexander (Lex) Watson. The price reflected 11% annual growth over the 41 years.


It sold today to a local family though listing agent Lynsey Kemp, of Belle Property Balmain.

Marketed as an exciting proposition, the 1854 house is positioned in a no-through lane with an expansive rear yard providing direct access to the waterfront via Thornton Park.

Bidding began at $1.8 million. There were 18 contracts issued before the onsite auction.


Balmain East's average house price is $2 million according to RP Data. The property was marketed as "an incredible location with water and harbour bridge views, large land size, potential to re-build."

It is listed as being locally significant under the council heritage plan. 


Lex Watson was born in Perth in 1943, educated at Perth Modern School, and began an arts degree at the University of Western Australia, before transferring to the University of Sydney to complete his honours year in 1963.

His early subjects included philosophy, which introduced him to the writings of Stuart Mill. 

Lex remained at the University of Sydney all his working life, tutoring and teaching Australian politics. 

He had a long involvement in the Pride History Group, Sydney’s gay and lesbian history group, and was president when he died in May this year. 

Another weekend Belle sale on the Balmain peninsula was when 10 Reynolds St, Balmain sold for $1,363,000. It was $113,000 over reserve, according to the auctioneer Rocky Bartolotto, from Auction Services. The bidding opened at $1,150,000 with four parties taking part in the bidding before an investor secured the property through Lynsey Kemp. 

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of Australia's most respected property journalists, having been at the top of the game since the early 1980s. Jonathan co-founded the property industry website Property Observer and has written for national and international publications.

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