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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One response

  1. my father worked there. name laurence melville senior

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