Monthly Archives: September, 2012

Penshurst Theatre/IGA – Penshurst, NSW

Sometimes, places of historical interest may be buried in the most unlikely, mundane places – and it doesn’t get much more mundane than IGA.

Penhurst IGA, and the Punchy’s Gym that sits above it, may not look like much, but in 1925 this was the site of the newly opened Nash’s Penshurst Theatre. C’mon, look again and tell me you can’t see the resemblance. Let me just say it’s been extremely hard to find anything at all on this theatre, other than that it was owned by a Mr. W Nash, opened in 1925 and stayed open until at least 1954. At some point it was closed and transformed into the building that exists today. While it’s not immediately identifiable as the theatre, if you look closely you can see that the same basic frontage is there (albeit crimped), and the IGA is certainly big enough. Anyway, as we know, stranger things have happened. As always, if you know more, please let Past/Lives know.

One interesting anecdote: in 1932, the Penshurst Theatre was taken to court by Raycophone, a Sydney-based company (with a factory in Annandale) which manufactured speakers and amplifiers for motion picture theatres.

Image courtesy audioheritage.org

Allegedly, Penshurst Theatre thrashed the Raycophone ‘talking picture sound reproducing equipment’ they hired, and returned them in unsatisfactory condition. Scandalous! Even worse was that in their defence, PT claimed that they’d received the equipment in that poor condition. I know that today we have DTS and THX surround sound and all that, but seriously, how hard must Nash have been cranking the likes of Shanghai Express, Scarface or Red Dust to blow the speakers off their Raycophone? Dudes were wild back then.

Massive thank you to reader Carmen for the picture of Penshurst Theatre, and to reader Shaun for the hot tip in the first place!

Pizzeria/Sushi Bar Hiro – Beverly Hills, NSW

Beverly Hills is renowned for its smorgasbord of international cuisine, but it already has several Japanese restaurants. Presumably, the owners of the Hiro sushi bar attempted to balance things out, thinking that King Georges Road wouldn’t miss one little tiny pizzeria. Not quite.

Inside, the pizzeria-esque decor is still in full effect, but to be fair they’ve tried to spruce things up a bit. Eatability praises the place for its cheap and fresh menu, but gives it a big thumbs down for the decor. Don’t blame Hiro, blame the pizzeria.

Unlimited Discs/Nothing – Beverly Hills, NSW

Underneath the rust and soot of this building lies a dinosaur: a. it existed years and years ago, and could not exist today. b. it died out around the same time as its brethren in some kind of mass extinction. and c. there’s plenty of evidence left behind for us to use in piecing together what happened. Spoiler: the discs weren’t so unlimited after all.

Unlimited Discs, in north Beverly Hills, sold cool stuff – vinyl, CDs, comics – and I’d wager it was both first and second hand. I never went here BITD, but if I’d been able to, I would have. While all of the shop’s touted inventory have either become obsolete or are on their way out, back in the heyday, you could get any of them easily, be it from music shops like Brashs, or in the case of comics, your local newsagent. Things have changed, obviously. Shops like Unlimited Discs existed for people wanting to buy then-prohibitively expensive CDs on the cheap, or those enthusiasts who couldn’t get what they needed (back issues, rarities etc) from mainstream outlets like newsagents or record shops. Unfortunately, as the mainstream outlets dried up and the internet rose to prominence as a shopping medium, the Unlimited Discs of the world died out.

Not helping the situation of this particular record shop is its extremely close proximity to the Beverly Hills entrance/exit of the M5 Motorway, which opened in 1992 and would have impacted upon Unlimited Discs’ business. Suddenly, in their rush to hit the motorway (presumably to go to the ‘better’ record shops in the city) no one wanted to shop local anymore. Also a factor: the shopfront appears to have been set on fire at some point, which isn’t good even if you don’t stock a tonne of vinyl. We can’t know exactly what happened here (unless YOU do, in which case let me know) but we can get an approximate date as to when it happened. The shop looks as if it’s been abandoned for years, with this Visa sticker in the window providing insight into the time when business was good:

Good luck, team.

I’d love to be able to get inside Unlimited Discs and see what’s still in there. I imagine stacks of unsold stock lying around waiting to be rediscovered and introduced to the 21st century. I imagine someone living there with hundreds of stories to tell about the golden years, when the discs really did seem unlimited. I also imagine I’m completely wrong, but I can dream, can’t I?

Bonus: around the back of this shop is Moondani Lane. Some of the locals have had some fun with it (perhaps they got the record at UD):

Liberty Service Station/Sold – Riverwood, NSW

In its heyday, the Liberty budget-priced service station chain offered freedom from the high prices gouged by the big boys of the industry. Today, this Liberty offers freedom from any prices.

Liberty came from the old-school of servos, where workshops were par for the course. They were service stations after all, and not just because they used to fill your car up for you.

Liberty service stations are actually the modern day incarnation of the Solo service stations of the 1970s and 80s. Liberty began life as Solo in 1974, and became the largest independent servo brand in Australia. The Solo chain was part of the ACTU’s efforts in the 70s to bring about a discount retail revolution. In 1975, Solo teamed up with the ACTU to bring prices down in Victoria, leading to a 17c per litre difference in fuel prices between Victoria and NSW (imagine the fury in Albury-Wodonga). Solo’s discount revolution didn’t hit NSW until 1977, due to staunch opposition from a terrified Transport Workers Union, which feared that discount petrol would lead to mass sackings of fuel tanker drivers. Servo owners also rallied against the introduction of the discount chain, but to no avail. The first NSW Solo opened in 1977 in the then-still recovering Bold Street, Granville. Just think, all that effort and struggle to regulate and cut fuel prices, only to end up in the situation we’re in today. It’s pretty sad.

Solo was bought out by Ampol in 1989 (and didn’t that end well), and in 1995, Solo’s creators started Liberty ‘in the spirit of’ Solo. It’s alleged that they’re still going today, although from this mess you wouldn’t know it. You’d hope that Liberty head office had more confidence in the other locations than they had in this one.