As promised, here’s the first in a series of articles taking a look back at the top ten most popular Past/Lives posts of the last year. If I was smart, I would have picked the ten least popular posts so as to boost their views, but there’s a good reason the Belfield denture clinic never found its audience.
With that in mind, it’s to my complete amazement that I present the tenth most popular entry, Hurstville’s No. 1 Butchery.
Original article: Food Fair/ANZ Bank/The Base Store/No1 Butchery – Hurstville, NSW
First things first: there are no obvious changes. Given the building’s colourful history, it’s almost a surprise there’s been no activity over the last 12 months, but there you have it…NO changes whatsoever (perhaps with the exception of the chemist next door having become “Australia’s cheapest chemist”. Yeah, right). It’s as ugly a shopfront as ever, and that demonic pig in the logo is just as disturbing. I’d be willing to bet those people walking past are the same as last year, too.
What’s really interesting to me about this place is that just over the last few weeks, it’s exploded in terms of page views. Why? The whole point of this series was to show you how things have changed over a year, and to find something new to add, so this is a great start. What’s so special about this place? Then again, that’s probably what you were saying when I published the original article a year ago. Wait! Do you feel that? It’s moments like these that bring us closer, dear reader.
Don’t worry, they won’t all be like this.
Sometimes it can be fun to take a look at the evolution of a shop over time. It reveals a lot about the changing face of the suburb, shoppers’ tastes and the sensibilities of the time, among many other things. In this case, we’re looking at 274 Forest Road, Hurstville. In 1951, it was Food Fair, an extremely 50s looking fruit and vegetable shop. Now, take a good look at this picture. You’d never get away with parking a car on Forest Road like that these days, and you certainly wouldn’t ever see your bike again if you just left it unattended and unchained like that. Before the advent of the Westfield, or the Super Centre above the Hurstville train station, these shops were the lifeblood of the suburb that coursed through the vein that is Forest Road.
This one’s a stretch, but use your enthusiasm to zero in on the barely visible ANZ logo next to the Lowes, which is still there 30 years later. It makes sense that by the 80s, the banks had staked out territory amongst the little shops along the street. Food Fair would have had nowhere else to go but bust even if it had survived the 1978 opening of Westfield (which I’m guessing it didn’t).
Here we are again, in the new millennium. Now the shop is home to The Base Store, a $2 shop/party goods outlet. How shops like these were able to flourish in the 90s/00s is beyond me, but think back – they were everywhere. It all started with the novelty of the Reject Shop, and then things got out of hand. We only have ourselves to blame. By this point the bank is long gone, a victim of the online revolution and branch closures. Firing workers is the best way to save money, you know.
Which brings us to today. Oh, how things have changed (except Lowes, which appears to be the foundation Hurstville was built around). The former Knapps Butchery has become a Chemist Warehouse, and the party’s over for the Base Store. It’s now Butchery No. 1, or No1 Butchery as Google likes to call it, and fittingly too – it’s anonymous as hell. There’s the Rav 4 parked in the same place as the car in 1951, and they both have the spare tyre on the back. The custom facade of the Food Fair has long since been covered up by the dirty venetian look of ANZ, which itself has left an ugly stain (what a visual metaphor). The ubiquitous-yet-defunct Anata Awning has ensured that Food Fair’s legacy is lost to the world, but I can’t help but think if you tore that facade down, the Food Fair shopfront would be waiting patiently behind it for one more day in the sun. It sounds fair to me.
UPDATE: One year later, No. 1 Butchery is #10 in the Past/Lives Flashback series. Check it out.
Reader Dave gave me a hot tip about this place: “It was the ANZ Bank that I used to go to. It was closed up and never used since. Look through the front window and you’ll see all the teller’s benches with glass partitions between covered in dust, as if the bank was suddenly deserted and locked up as a time capsule. Even for me it’s spooky frozen in time.”
Needless to say, I couldn’t pass that up. Unfortunately, someone tipped them off because the blinds were drawn when I got there, allowing me to see absolutely nothing. I looked for any hint (apart from the obvious design of the shopfront) that it was ever a bank, but instead came across something much more ridiculous. If you look closely, you can see the letters MPA on the front of the building. Here:
And on the building’s sign, the acronym reveals a shameful secret:
Yes, MPA is Master Painters Australia NSW, a fact available to us through this masterful painting job. Well done, guys.
Yeah, this one’s an easy target but it’s Friday, so gimme a break. If we look past the brand name for a moment we can see this building belonged to the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited (CBC). The CBC was established in 1834, and here’s its seal:
Now, I know what we’re all thinking: “How can I find out more about the boat in that seal?”
The CBC website answers our prayers:
“Thermopylae was an extreme composite clipper ship built in 1868 by Walter Hood & Co of Aberdeen to the design of Bernard Weymouth of London for the White Star Line of Aberdeen.
She measured 212’0″×36’0″×20’9″ and tonnage 991 GRT, 948 NRT and 927 tons under deck. The under deck coefficient was 0,58. Rigged with royal sails, single topgallant and double top-sails.
She was designed for the China tea trade, and set speed records on her maiden voyage to Melbourne — 63 days, still the fastest trip under sail. In 1872 she raced the clipper Cutty Sark from Shanghai back to London and won by seven days after Cutty Sark lost her rudder. In 1895 she was sold to Portugal and used as a naval training ship. The Portuguese Navy torpedoed her at sea in 1906.”
But for every nagging mystery solved, another pops up in its place, such as why Burberry needs a safe deposit area:
But that just goes to show that they used to build banks to last. To these designers, the CBC was going to rule the waves forever, but the truth is much more banal. In 1981 it was absorbed by the National Australia Bank, whose logo can be found bolted to the front of this building. Looking inside, we can see the extent of the bank’s lavish furnishings:
After having a look at some of those price tags, I can safely say that even though Burberry has only been at this location for a year (it was previously Sydney’s only Virgin Megastore), it’s banked fatter coin than the CBC ever did.
The Advance Bank brand lasted only ten years, from 1985-1995, at which point it was rebranded the Bank of South Australia. This fascinating tidbit aside, we can see that after the Advance Bank went south (haw haw), the shop became an Interflora florist, but above all this post exists to prove that not every shop in Kingsgrove has ‘King’ in their name.