Monthly Archives: August, 2013

Bank of New South Wales/Westpac/Embassy Conference Centre – Chippendale, NSW

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Oh, that’s nice.

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But what’s this? Couldn’t make it through century two, then?

Actually, the Bank of NSW (later Westpac) held on here for a good 30 or so years past 1960. Let’s take a look:

As we’ve previously been over, the Bank of NSW has a long and illustrious hiszzz…huh, wha? Oh, do excuse me. The revered financial institution was established in 1817 without a safe. Yes, you read that right:

Sydney Gazette, March 29 1817

Right, 1217. We trust these guys with numbers? Sydney Gazette, March 29 1817

In the spirit of that ridiculousness, tomorrow I’ll be establishing an amusement park: Fast Rides of the Near Future. Anyone got any rides I can borrow? Free entry for a year if you do!

In 1860, the BoNSW started to branch out – literally. The bank’s first branch was established here on Broadway that year. But what flies in the ’60s sinks in the ’90s, and by 1894 changes had to be made. The powers that be summoned Varney Parkes (son of Sir Henry and former Bank of NSW employee) to design the current building (complete with it’s own gold smelting facility), unceremoniously treating their number one son like number two in the process. In fact (as we’ll see), that plaque at the top of the page is about as sentimental as Westpac cares to get (but remember, you’re not just a number 🙂 ).

Bank of NSW, 1955. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Bank of NSW, 1955. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Actually, maybe in 1955 you were. Oh, check it out: the postbox by the corner is still there!

Bank of NSW, 1989. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Bank of NSW, 1989. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

1982 saw the Bank of NSW merge with the Commercial Bank of Australia to form Westpac, presumably to confuse customers. You can guarantee they would have netted some poor old biddy’s cash in the changeover. To aid the public through this confusing time, all branches were poorly rebranded with the Westpac name, and the Railway Square spot was no different.

Bank of NSW, 1992. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Bank of NSW, 1992. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Here it is in 1992, in glorious colour for the first time. In that same year, Westpac suffered a $1.6b loss, a record for any Australian corporation at the time. Staff were let go en masse, and that would had to have affected this branch. Luckily, anyone forced out the door would have seen the old Sydney City Mission logo behind them there. I wonder whatever happened to that? Someone should get on that.

Bank of NSW, 2000. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Bank of NSW, 2000. Image courtesy City of Sydney Archives

Despite Westpac’s extensive refurbishment of the building in 1989-90, the bank was hit too hard by ’92’s recession. By 2000, the building that had once been the bank’s pride and joy was just another ‘For Lease’ along George Street, just in time for the Olympics.

Today, the bank’s purpose is to serve as a function centre. Why one would be needed right beside the Mercure, which presumably has its own, boggles the mind…unless. UNLESS…when the Mercure set themselves up, they put an ad in the paper advertising for the lend of a conference room…

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Pizza Hut/Moo-ers Steakhouse/For Lease – Long Jetty, NSW

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When someone or something beloved is replaced, it’s not unusual for the usurper to find itself under fire, the subject of blistering scorn (and never moreso than right here on this blog). In the case of Moo-ers, a steakhouse up near The Entrance, it seemed like they picked the wrong shoes to fill.

In 2008, Moo-ers maa-nagement became concerned about the quality of meat they were receiving; hogget and mutton were being misrepresented as lamb, yearling as veal. The definition of beef cuts was being stretched by local suppliers; a shipment claiming to include sirloin, porterhouse and striploin cuts would be found to contain nothing but the one generic cut of beef.  I wonder if this was happening with their seafood as well: shrimp instead of prawns, carp instead of everything else.

Moo-ers raised the issue with the Senate Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee (SRARAATC *ahem* excuse me), hoping for tighter naming guidelines for meat. With most of their menu being meat, any substitution or downgrade in quality was hurting the Moo-ers brand.

Was anything ever done? Was the integrity of the Moo-ers menu salvaged? To answer those questions, cast your eyes upwards to the picture. Notice anything…for lease? My expert guess is that Moo-ers’ shipments of generic meat was in keeping with what the previous tenants had received. I mean seriously, if you can tell me what kind of “meat” the Pizza Hut “ground beef” is meant to be, then congratulations – there may be a spot for you on the SRARAATC.

‘Fine stream, fine meadow’ – the Cooks River project

If you read my entry on Shea’s Creek/Alexandra Canal and found your thirst for knowledge on the subject far from quenched (yeah, right), then I recommend you head over to the Dictionary of Sydney, which has just launched its Cooks River project. From the Dictionary:

It is with great pleasure that we launch our ‘Fine stream, fine meadow’ Cooks River project. Made possible through a Federal Government Your Community Heritage grant, today marks the culmination of a 12 month partnership between the Dictionary of Sydney and Botany Bay CityMarrickville and Canterbury City councils, the Cooks River Alliance, and nine fine writer-historians whose collective works form the heart of this project.

Through 14 essays, our authors trace the history of the Cooks River valley from its days as a pristine natural watercourse and lush hunting ground for the Eora people to the high density inner city suburbs and polluted river we know today.

It’s an impressive, exhaustive undertaking, and one I’m looking forward to getting stuck in to. Plus, if you look hard enough, you might find one of the photographers to be very familiar. What are you still reading this for? Get over there, ya mugs!