The St. George County Council was established in 1920 to control the distribution of electricity within the Municipalities of Bexley, Hurstville, Kogarah and Rockdale, and was the first of its kind in Australia. In 1939, this building was constructed for the St. George County Council, presumably as a way of showing off just how fancy and powerful the Council was. During the early years of the SGCC, it was reported that St. George residents enjoyed the cheapest electricity in the country.
By 1963 it appears that most of the county’s electricity was being distributed right to this building, what with all the neon signs. Absolute power corrupts, so to speak. The St. George County Council enjoyed its name up in lights until 1980, when it was amalgamated with the Sydney City Council, itself rebranded in 1991 as Sydney Electricity and in 1996, EnergyAustralia. Now, St. George residents pay too much for electricity just like the rest of us.
Today the building has become a branch of the Bank of China, among other things, and doubtless many electricity bills are paid here. They’ve still got the neon happening there in the bottom right, perhaps just to prove that they can. It’s for a dental clinic, not a place you often associate with neon signage. The clock is a poor facsimile of its predecessors, too; also, it doesn’t work.
It’s gotta be a kick in the tablets when you can only get the ex-Minister for Works & Local Government to unveil your building. Spooner, a Conservative, had resigned as Minister a few months earlier after publicly describing that year’s State Budget as ‘faked’. He was also responsible for regulating the appropriate cut of mens bathing suits, insisting on the full-length one-piece. Sort of like the Tony Abbott of his day, in that way.
A liquor shop for many years, this Hurstville location has recently become a bottle shop of a different kind. We all know that all booze eventually ends up hitting the porcelain in one form or another, but this is rather literal.
I certainly hope you weren’t planning on getting that special someone some porcelain for Christmas…
On the outside, it looks like an ordinary 80s-style sports club. The door is perfectly positioned in front of a busy main road for when drunks stumble out at the end of a night, clueless as to where they are or how much cars hurt.
Unfortunately for fans of empty buildings, the outside is as close a look as we’re gonna get. The Hurstville United Sports Club has moved, leaving the shell of its former home behind as it establishes a new pokie storage room at South Hurstville under the shorter, trendier and more abstract name ‘Club Hurstville Sports’. One can only imagine the third iteration will be titled ‘Hurstclub Sportsville’.
The most notable feature of this old building is the addition of what appears to be the world’s biggest wasp nest in this window. Or second biggest, in case the wasps moved to South Hurstville too.
The Hurstville building currently featuring Stokland Furniture Depot is a bit like your old fridge covered in magnets that vary wildly in their level of ancientness. The site has put up with a variety of variety shops (sorry) since 1914.
While it’s currently Stokland Furniture Depot (at last, furniture shopping without the c—s), in a previous life the building played host to…
…Bag A Bargain, and that Escher-esque door to nowhere – a sight so crazy it’s clearly driven the Bag A Bargain mascot downright nutty. Earlier still, the building was…
…Coles Variety store (later Fossey’s), which acted as a thoroughfare to Forest Road. I hope the equivalent sign at the front of the building on Forest Road warned thoroughfare users of the doozy of a step waiting for them on the other side of the door.
UPDATE: Thanks to this Leader article from December 1989, we can finally know what caused Coles Variety to pack up and leave. Spoiler: it was Westfield.
Even if we choose to accept K-Mart as the spiritual successor to Coles Variety – which I don’t – can its champions boast that it has an ice cream parlour at the front of the store? I didn’t think so.
Only in that wondrous age that was the 1990s could a store like this flourish. Movie Supermarket at Hurstville was the place to go for obscure VHS tapes. The place was huge, like the Gould’s of videos, and carried things Video Ezy didn’t have. The first time I saw Faces of Death anywhere was in here, and it was unsettling. Even worse were the prices – you may be used to $5 DVDs in the bargain bin at JB Hifi these days, but back then movies on VHS cost upwards of $20 each.
And there were no two-disc special features director’s commentary editions in the VHS era either – those were reserved for the hardcore Laserdisc set. Movie Supermarket’s new videos came in at around $30, sometimes more. Their ex-rentals (mostly from the Video Ezy across the road) were a little cheaper, but for what you got it was criminal. Unfortunately, the only alternative back then was to tape a film off TV, and that required the film to be shown. Faces of Death III fans holding their breath for Channel 9 to screen their favourite film probably held on long enough to wind up in Faces of Death IV. If you weren’t satisfied with renting a film, if you HAD to own Lethal Weapon 2 on tape and you couldn’t wait for it to be shown, you coughed up $40 bucks at Movie Supermarket.
But neither time nor technology were kind to Movie Supermarket. The public’s whole-hearted embrace of DVD by 2001 left the original location here with stockpiles of useless, worthless VHS tapes. By 2007, the rent that the sale of a dozen brand new tapes would have covered could no longer be paid, and the shop moved two streets over to a much smaller location. They tried to get into the DVD market, but selling DVDs for $50 each was more of a 1999 thing to do. The Movie Supermarket website is dated 2009, but as far as I could see the shop no longer exists. I hope someone filmed the closure, Faces of Death VII could use some more material.