Tag Archives: For Lease

Griffiths Teas/Derelict – Surry Hills, NSW

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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?

Arnold’s Stationery & Balloons/Leased – Hurstville, NSW

The closure of balloon shops are so commonplace, almost everyone has been touched by a tragedy like this. But there’s still that attitude amongst balloon shop proprietors that ‘it’ll never happen to them’. Well guess what, Arnold? It did. The over-inflated Hurstville party store market suddenly burst like a…well, you know, and Arnold was left holding the bag. His inventory vanished like air from a deflating…well, you know, and before he knew it, Arnold’s stationery venture was stationary.

Unlike Arnold himself, who’s moved on, allowing a new tenant to breathe new life into the vacant shop like air into a…well, you know.

Cathouse Spares/For Lease – Enfield, NSW

Damn, Jenny’s left boob exploded, Cyndi’s on her last legs and John reckons Nautica needs a complete lube job. Where will I get spares for my cathouse?

In reality, Cathouse Spares was a specialist spare parts shop for Jaguars….in Enfield. It’s much more of a Maserati area, so no wonder things didn’t work out. It’s since moved to Rydalmere, leaving this building empty and awaiting its next trick. C’mon madams, you couldn’t ask for a more perfect location!

Chinese Restaurant/Hyang Won Korean Restaurant/For Lease – Strathfield, NSW

By leaving the previous tenant’s neon ‘Chinese Restaurant’ sign up, this Korean restaurant hoped to bank on an underlying current of the ‘they all look alike’ mentality to put bums on seats. Perhaps it’s a good thing then that they’re no longer in business? In reality it looks like this restaurant was part of the ‘by the people, for the people’ trend that saw Chinese restaurants originally established to appeal to the more adventurous members of white Australian communities replaced with Korean restaurants designed to cater to the area’s blossoming Korean community…and it closed because apparently, the food sucked. Japanese next time?

Bookers Night Spot/For Lease – Surry Hills, NSW

Perched at the intersection of Chalmers and Cleveland Streets are a variety of notable buildings: the old Australia Post headquarters; the colonial era Cleveland Street Public School; that ancient backpackers hostel. The odd one out is this building, which has sat unused and for lease until very recently, when part of it was turned into a greengrocer. The other part still sits dormant, waiting for another chance at life.

Around the side we can see that it was for sale long ago. So old is the sale that the sold stickers have become partially transparent. The sign to the right has been painted over along with the rest of the building, and still myriad signs and lettering can be seen underneath the coat, some of which seems to suggest the place had a restaurant…but that’s not the lettering we’re interested in.

At some point in the past, this place was Bookers [sic] Night Spot, the only pub or club I could find attributed to this address. Half price drinks were on sale between 10pm-11:30pm. It featured two floors, and pool tables. Not the most dynamic attributes a night spot could have, but aside from the weak offerings it’s unclear when or why the club closed. The competition from the pubs down near Central Station or up at Crown Street might have played a part, and that the area is much more gentrified than ever. It’s easy to imagine this may have been yet another corner pub once, serving thirsty shift workers from Australia Post, or a tram stop on what was once a busy corner for the light rail.

ATHENIAN UPDATE: As reader Luke says, this location was once the Athena Greek nightclub/Restaurant. The only remnant of this today is the ironwork affixed over the east window:

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