Tag Archives: nightclub

The Rawson Institute for Seamen/Bar100 – The Rocks, NSW

The snigger-inducing Rawson Institute for Seamen opened in 1859 as the Mariners’ Church, a missionary effort by the Bethel Union which followed two similar sites in Darling Harbour and Circular Quay. After initial success, the Bethel Union fell on hard times at the turn of the 20th century, and in 1895 the Church was leased to the Missions to Seamen. So wait, one seamen missionary group met financial hardship operating out of this place…and another one jumped in to take its place? Were the owners named Bond and Packer?

Sir Harry Rawson, who was appointed NSW Governor after his productive and incident-free trip to Benin, got a piece of the action once his governorship ended in 1909, proposing extensions to the building so important that the complex was renamed after him. Seamen everywhere could thank Rawson for providing them such a luxurious institute.

By 1960 things like this had fallen pretty much by the wayside, and the Bethel Union limped back to Flying Angel House, while the Rawson Institute became in 1981 home to the hitherto-unknown-by-me Craft Council of NSW, which lasted until 1990. Subsequently used as an art gallery and cafe, in 2011 Rawson’s changed hands yet again to much consternation. The new tenant, Bar100, hopes to rival that seamen’s institute of a different kind, the notorious Ivy nightclub. You’ll need a lot more than the name, guys.

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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