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:
The Demco Machinery site, on Cleveland Street in Surry Hills, is made up of two separate buildings. The one in the foreground here is the oldest, first used as a tobacco factory in 1911, and then a tea company until the 1920s. Once Demco moved in around 1930, they patiently waited for the St Margarets Hospital for Women Dispensary next door, built in 1906, to fall on hard times. They didn’t have to wait long:
Strangely, although the building’s address is currently 267-271 Cleveland Street, advertisements prior to 1953 give Demco’s address, as well as that of the hospital and the tobacco factory, as 243-247 Cleveland Street. There must have been a renumbering of Cleveland Street around that time, as to avoid confusion, from 1948 Demco started advertising their address as ‘corner of Cleveland and Buckingham Streets’.
Demco packed up its city operations in 1989, moving out to Greenacre as part of the industrial migration to Sydney’s west. Since 2002, the older half has been occupied by Mao & More, a Sinophile’s paradise of kitschy Oriental paraphernalia very at home in the increasingly gentrified area. The showroom half of ‘modern design’ Demco were so proud of currently consists of several businesses, including The Gingerbread Man, a film and web production company located in the basement; and a sportswear manufacturer. The only evidence of Demco’s time here is the art deco Demco sign still sitting atop the building.
Yet another dead video shop, this ex-Blockbuster has the distinction of having taken over the location from another video shop before running it into the ground. Are Blockbuster stickers and signs really hard to get off or something? Did they foolishly build them to last?
Ah, neon. This is the first and only instance of a Movietek outlet I’ve come across, so it must have been one of the independents back in the golden era of video shops. Also of interest at this location is the second floor, which until around 2007 was a costume shop (imaginatively named The Costume Shop). Pardon the pun, but it’s fitting, given that Movietek put on a Blockbuster costume to try and swim in the deep end.