Tag Archives: derelict

Griffiths Teas/Derelict – Surry Hills, NSW

IMG_7555

In 1873, English grocer James Griffiths migrated to Melbourne with his wife and cousin (one and the same) in order to start a tea business. By 1875 Griffiths Brothers Teas had become a sensation, providing tea, coffee, cocoa and chocolate to caffeine junkies all over Australia. The Sydney outlet of the Melbourne-based company, built in 1915 as a Budden and Greenwell joint, banked heavily on thirsty train travellers staggering out of nearby Central Station looking for a cuppa.

Image courtesy AusPostalHistory.com

Image courtesy AusPostalHistory.com

In a memorable ad campaign, a series of these signs were situated at varying intervals along the train trip into Central, designed to gee up incoming arrivals by counting down the miles until they could drink up. It’s hard to imagine anyone being so excited about tea in this day and age, although I wonder if any of the signs are still out there, amping people up for phantom tea?

IMG_7563But we’re not here to talk about the glory days, are we? In 1925, James Griffiths was killed by a train (apparently the train driver missed the ‘1 mile to Griffiths’ signs), and the tea company was sold to Robur Tea, which itself lasted until 1974. Griffiths’ death meant downsizing within the company (maybe today isn’t so different after all), and the Sydney building was transferred to the Sydney City Council, who then leased it back to Griffiths Teas. Talk about keeping up appearances!

IMG_7562The tea fad was over by 1965, and Griffiths relinquished control of the building to a variety of tenants, some of which have left their mark on the exterior. For example:

IMG_7565‘We’re near you!’ if you happen to live in the neighbouring few blocks or like the idea of hauling furniture home via train.

IMG_7567I’d have to imagine that whoever was selling Makita and Metabo power tools out of this place weren’t using the entire building. These signs have been here as long as I can remember, and probably even longer still. Bear in mind that while these power tools were being sold, there were still signs up for Avenue Furniture and Griffiths Teas; that’s confusing and sloppy. I mean, that’d be like if…or, maybe if…no, I mean like…hm. Never mind.

IMG_7569It’s no surprise to find that Citilease, owned by Sydney’s own Howard Hughes, Isaac Wakil, is the villain of this piece, completely responsible for the disgusting state of this site. As previously mentioned, Isaac and Susan Wakil own millions of dollars worth of property around Sydney that they insist on leaving vacant. As a result, viable real estate close to public transport and universities is being left to rot. Wakil’s Citilease outfit (here disguised as ‘City Leasing’) has owned the building for at least 25 years, and don’t be fooled by the ‘for lease’ sign – there’s no 9 in front of the number.

IMG_7570Late last year, some Sydney anarchists decided to conduct an inspection of the property on New Year’s Eve. Perhaps they had intentions of leasing? Of course, they made a few alterations while they were there and had to be forcibly evicted, but don’t worry Citilease, I think they’ll be back.

It’s worth pointing out that the Melbourne Griffiths Teas building, which you’ll remember was the headquarters for the whole operation, has been well preserved and turned into an upmarket hotel with vintage trappings, the Lindrum. Now, why didn’t we think of that?

Interiors 4 U/Derelict – Strathfield, NSW

Here we have the former home of both a motorcycle dealership and Great Galah Furniture. At some point it became Interiors 4 U (and following that, a fire statistic), but by the look of things I don’t think they count as interiors anymore.

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.

Convenience Store/Nothing – Enfield, NSW

I have to say, there’s nothing very convenient about this store.