The Gadigal people of the Eora nation occupied this area for more than 40,000 years before British colonisation began in the eighteenth century. The notorious English Captain Foveaux had the first grant of land for this area and he called it Surry Hills Farm.
Brickfield Hill is one of six four-storey terraces built by a Victorian speculator on the Surry Hills escarpment in Riley Street in the 1880's. The terraces were built to take advantage of views of the Blue Mountains and glimpses of the mountains can still be enjoyed from the fourth floor of Brickfield Hill.
The first owner of 403 Riley Street was Mrs Lydia King, who operated a boarding house. During meticulous restoration in the 1990's traces of that bygone era were discovered: the wiring for servant bells, discarded Victorian clothing in roof storage, or an empty beer bottle imported from Liverpool in England in the late 1800's.
The name 'Brickfield Hill' now given to 403 Riley Street, was chosen with a view to keeping alive a local 19th century name that has since disappeared from Sydney. Brickfield Hill was a precinct in the vicinity of Surry Hills where bricks were made for the rapidly expanding town in the earliest days of the Colony of New South Wales.
With a depression in the 1890's much of inner Sydney, particularly Surry Hills, fell on hard times and indeed Surry Hills is one of the last precincts to experience a revival. Now an eclectic mix of post-war immigrants, students, city workers and families, it has become one of Sydney's most alluring districts.