Booth Street is now Annandale’s main shopping and cafe strip. However, its origins are heavily industrial and it retained this character well into the second half of the 20th century. By the mid 19th century its eastern end adjacent to Johnston Creek was a clay pit and brick works. By the 20th century it was home to decorative plaster, jam, furniture, radio and sound reproduction, and photographic film factories in addition to a string of retail shops.
From the early 20th century the names of many business proprietors reflect a strong Italian influence, with the Melocco and Benedetto families particularly prominent.
No. 1 SE (corner Wigram Street)
The present building was built and occupied by Melocco Bros., fibrous plaster and terrazzo manufacturers and stone, marble and concrete merchants, who arrived at the site in the early 1920’s. A photo of their works as it existed in 1925 can be found in da Cruz, 1920s Annandale at page 44.
The site, adjacent to Johnston and Orphan School Creeks, has a long association with the building products industry. From as early as the 1850’s much of the eastern end of Booth street to Johnston Creek and portions of Taylor Street were occupied by a clay pit and the North Annandale Brickworks*. From around 1910 Moodie Bros. Builders occupied the site until Melocco Bros established their fibrous plaster factory here in 1921.
Melocco Bros. were pioneers in many sectors of the construction industry and were responsible for the decoration of many of the most prominent sites in Sydney including portions of St Mary’s Cathedral, the booking office at Central Station, the Mitchell Wing of the State Library of NSW, the Commonwealth Bank Building at Martin Place, and the State Theatre.
This large building on the bank of Johnston Creek probably formed part of Melocco Bros. business described below.
A short history of Melocco Bros. and examples of their work can be found on the company site and in the Dictionary of Sydney. **
A video depicting their work can be found on Youtube.
*AURA Vol 1 at page 31.
**See also da Cruz, 1920’s Annandale, page 43.
No. 7 NE (corner Taylor Street)
This is amongst the oldest buildings on Booth Street. When it was built, large sections of the street were vacant.
James Cumming established this former grocery store in 1890 and ran the store until about 1915 from which time it continued to to house a series of groceries and mixed businesses into the 1950’s.
This charming federation style shop was built in about 1913 for William L Marcroft, a grocer. By 1925 it had become a stationery store and in the 1930’s a printer and bookbinder operated here.
After becoming a fish shop in the mid 1930’s from about 1940 it disappears from the directories. Perhaps it was absorbed into the large butcher’s shop next door at that time.
No. 35 NE Cnr Nelson Street
This prominent corner site was probably occupied by a blacksmith in the early years of the 20th century. The large store which now occupies the site was built in 1913 (probably in conjunction with its neighbour at No. 33) and was first occupied by William G Geddes’ butchery. Mr Geddes was plainly not shy of competition as he was taking on the well-established Tarleton butchery on the opposite corner at No. 37.
The store continued to operate as a butchery until relatively recent times under various proprietors including William Hector who ran the store in the 1940’s and 50’s.
No. 37 NW Cnr Nelson Street
William Tarleton opened his butcher’s shop on this site in 1894. It survived the opening of a large competitor across the road at No. 35 and various members of the Tarleton family ran the store until about 1930. The Tarletons seem to have been somewhat entrepreneurial as they also ran the butchery at No. 293 Annandale street from about 1905 until the mid-1920’s. John Buff took over the store at that time and ran it until at least the 1950’s.
Dating this building with precision is difficult. It may have been built for Luke Featherston, a grocer, in 1892. It is clear that it was operating as a grocery by 1905. Lily Harrop took over the store in the early 1920’s and operated a retail confectionery here until the late 1940’s when it became a mixed business.
In 1905 Walter Trathen established a ham & beef shop here. While the facade of the current building has been modified, the building probably dates from Mr Trathen’s store.
For those unsure of what a ham and beef shop (as distinct from a butcher’s) was, the photograph at this site is instructive.
By 1915 the shop had become a grocery and was being run by Robert Beneditto (sic - probably Benedetto), one of the many Italians who are an important part of the street’s history. It is not clear if he was related to the Benedetto’s who established the furniture factory next door in 1925 or to the Benedetto who operated the grocery up the road at No. 47 at around the same time.
From the mid 1930’s until about 1945 a series of boot and shoe repairers, including C Falco and G Raffoli, occupied the site. In 1945 the Annandale Lending Library was established here. Several other lending libraries were established in Annandale at around this time: as at 1945 there were eight in operation. By 1950, there were only two. Perhaps this proliferation is to be accounted for by war time shortages of paper and constraints on book manufacture and sale.
Frank McCarthy had briefly run a grocery at this site from about 1901. However, it was short-lived and the site seems to have remained vacant until 1925 when Benedetto Bros., furniture manufacturers, established their factory here and constructed the present building. The firm of Benedetto Bros. was originally constituted by four Di Benedetto brothers: Antonio, Rosario, Guiseppe and Luigi. However by around the time the Booth street factory was built only Antonio and Rosario were involved in the business.
At that time, numerous large and small furniture manufacturers and cabinetmakers operated in Annandale. Indeed, along with the very large Beale piano factory and associated timber yards and docks, during much of the 20th century the furniture and allied industries were major employers in the suburb.
By 1940 Ashley Furniture Co. had taken over the factory. It remained a furniture and wood veneer factory under several successive owners into the 1950’s.
This site was vacant until about 1925 when the current building was completed and occupied by Mrs Elsie Worthington, costumier. A tailor, Mr Lutman, took over the premises and worked there from the late 1920’s until the early 1930’s. The shop may have remained vacant during the great depression for some years and it is not until 1945 that it re-appears in the Sands directory as a second hand dealers.
WT Bowrey ran a radio store here in the 1950’s.
This shop currently forms part of the IGA supermarket at Nos 47-49. However, it formerly operated as a separate store.
Samuel Virgona established a greengrocers at the site in 1915. The present building may post-date this as it has a 1920’s or 30’s appearance. Perhaps the facade was modified at a later date. In any event, a succession of proprietors of Italian origin ran the store as a grocery or fruit shop into the 1950s: several members of the Benedetto family, Santangelo, Melano, Rizzuto and Lalspina are listed in the directories.
Charles Carrapiet opened his fish shop here in 1914. The current building, with its “sunburst” facade, no doubt dates from this time. By 1925 it had become a ham & beef shop. Subsequently it was variously a fish shop, small goods store and mixed business until the 1940’s. It may have been consolidated with No. 47 in the mid 1940’s.
Now a well-loved toy store, this shop was first occupied in around 1900 by George Lansom, grocer. Since then it has had a varied history.
By 1910 it was a fruit shop and remained so until the early 1920’s when it became a shoe a boot repair shop run by Philip Le Susur. By 1930 it was again a fruit shop but by 1932 Mrs B Pepper was selling smallgoods here. During the 1940’s shoes and boots were again being repaired at the store. In 1950 a second hand dealer was in occupation.
A set of 1950’s flats now occupies the site of several earlier factories. While no sign can be seen of those factories they are worthy of mention.
John Callanan, a boot maker was the first commercial occupant of the site commencing in about 1915. One of Annandale’s first cinemas, The Melba Picture Show, also briefly operated on, or immediately adjacent to, this site for several years from 1914. A company with the intriguing name of “Howling* Manufacturing Co. Ltd” (occupation unknown) was at the site from 1918 until the early 1920’s. Salisbury Travel Goods, makers of fibre travelling cases and other travel goods, then took over the site and remained there until about 1935 when yet another Annandale furniture maker, E Dickinson, took over the site. The site remained a furniture factory until at least the 1940’s.
* Sometimes spelled “Howlin”.
No. 83 NE Cnr Trafalgar Street
One of the oldest stores in the street, Peter Finn established a grocery here in 1888. While the current building bears the marks of later modifications, it probably dates from Finn’s initial grocery.
Mrs JB Wyllie took over the grocery in 1895 and was succeeded by Percy Bussell in 1905. At various times Bussell ran businesses elsewhere on Booth Street: for several years around 1910 he was the proprietor of a grocery and fuel merchants across the road on the south-east corner of Booth and Trafalgar Street (No. 127 Trafalgar Street) and in around 1915 he had a fuel business just to the west, on the site of the present Dakota Apartments.
By 1910 the store had joined the ranks of Annandale’s numerous confectioners until in 1925 it again became a grocery. In about 1930 it had yet another change of use when Yeates & Austin, tailors took over the building. By the mid-1930’s they had been succeeded by Mrs Hannah Gierke, dressmaker.
Through the 1940’s and into the 50’s the shop was occupied by a fruiterer, Charles Ross and also, for a period, a dry cleaners.
These three separate stores are dealt with together as they occupy the same building.
While a number of box factories and similar enterprises were established just to the west of these 3 lots from about 1907 (some to support large adjacent factories including Taylor Bros. Jams) this corner site remained vacant until quite late in the development of the street. It was not until 1927 when the present building was completed and occupied by M Spindler, greengrocer located at the corner at No. 85, JJ Dunn’s fish shop (who had previously been at No. 115 Booth St) at No. 87, and A Gibbons, smallgoods at No. 89.
While proprietors of the three shops changed regularly after that time, the nature of the three shops remained much the same. For example, JJ Dunn’s fish shop was subsequently run by a series of owners of Greek origin into the 1950’s: Pappacotis, Cotia, Samos and Karanikolas.
The history of what are now Nos. 91 and 93 Booth Street is clouded by the fact that the directories appear consistently to have allocated the same street number to both sites (No. 111a). What follows must be viewed in that light.
This shop probably dates from 1927 when Mrs M Moore established a book exchange. During the 1930’s WB Mallard and the HD Emery ran a stationery store here. In 1940 Miss Alice Field probably commenced a ladies hairdressing salon and she remained at the site into the 1950’s.
In 1929 Mrs P Kirby & Son established an undertaking business at this site. Its subsequent history is unclear and clouded by the confusion with No. 91 referred to above.
This small store probably began life in 1910 when Levi Herman commenced business here as a provision merchant. By 1919 he had moved on and Charles Elleson was running a ham and beef shop. He stayed in business here until the Second World War when Robert Mellin set up a hairdresser and tobacconist shop. The directories indicate that Mr Herman may have returned to a portion of the site in 1940 to run a small goods business and by 1945 he seems to have been in control of the whole site. By 1950 a dry cleaner was in occupation.
This large restaurant was formerly two separate stores.
The first business established here, probably on the eastern side of the building, was a fish & chip shop run by JJ Dunn who, as we have seen, later moved down the hill to No. 87 Booth Street. He commenced business in 1919 not long after the cinema had opened nearby in Johnston Street. JJ Dunn’s shop was then a popular spot for a feed before seeing a film at the Annandale Cinema*.
The shop on the western side was initially occupied briefly by the Australian Bank of Commerce from 1921. The bank later moved just up the road to premises on the north-west corner of View Street (No. 2 View Street). By 1925 Florence Fagan was running a mixed business on the site.
After JJ Dunn moved his fish & chip store down the street in around 1927, his former premises where occupied by a confectioner (Annandale seems never to have had enough lolly shops!) for several years followed by a hairdresser and then a fruiterer in the 1930’s. In 1940 a cake shop, “The Audrey”, moved in a stayed at the site until the late 1940’s.
On the western side, Victor Begg succeeded Florence Fagan and ran a grocery. Mrs VG Begg, probably Victor’s wife, set up a confectionery (yes, another one) in the shop in the 1930’s. By the mid 1930’s it had become a hairdresser and tobacconist before being reinvented as a fruit shop in about 1940. It remained a fruit shop until the 1950’s.
*M Quinn, The Cinemas of Annandale, LHJ Vol 5 page 17.
Nos. 1 and 3 View Street
While they front Booth Street, these buildings, which have addresses on View Street, are described below. The string of old stores on Booth Street from the north-west corner of View Street, currently occupied by a locksmith, are now numbered Nos 107 to 113 Booth Street. However, they were once a series of separate premises with the corner site being No. 2 View Street. Accordingly, the corner site is dealt with below as part of View Street.
These stores are now part of the locksmith’s store which spreads west from the north-west corner of View Street. For substantial periods they operated independently of the corner site (once known as 2 View Street) which for a time housed the Australian Bank of Commerce.
Tracking the separate history of each site is difficult*. While an estate agent may have occupied one of the sites in around 1915, the earliest reliable record of commercial use is 1927, which is broadly consistent with the style of the present buildings. However, the bank may well have occupied part of the site some years earlier. It seems that from the late 1920’s and into the 30’s parts of the sites were occupied by the bank, a hairdresser, an estate agent and a dressmaker.
In the latter half of the 30’s a pastry cook and mixed business were operating here. Through the 1940’s a produce merchant, Spindler Bros.** shared the site with the bank (by that time called The Bank of New South Wales).
*As the street numbering varied from year to year, there seem to be some errors in Sands and there is frequently a confusion with No. 2 View Street.
**They also had premises at No. 85 Rose Street.
The earliest reliable record of the use of this site is in 1930 when Miss A McMahon operated a grocery here, though it is possible that a fruit shop preceded her by several years. In any event, the current building probably dates from the late 1920’s or early 30’s.
By 1940 it had become a hairdresser and tobacconist and by 1950 Mr J McRae was running a boot and shoe repairer shop here.
The site is currently occupied by a Commonwealth Bank branch constructed in CBA’s 1970s – 1980s ubiquitous architectural style which is an acquired taste.
While the current building is quite modern, banks have occupied the site from about 1915 when a branch of the Government Savings Bank of NSW, (John J Dinan manager) was built and commenced operation. That bank was a large mortgage lender and funded much construction in NSW from after the depression of the 1890’s until the early 1930’s when it became a victim of the Great Depression and was bailed out by, and absorbed into, The Commonwealth Bank. Thus the Annandale branch of the Government Savings Bank of NSW, morphed seamlessly into a CBA branch in around 1932.
It is a little difficult to disentangle early 20th century Sands listings for this site from those for the large commercial building next door on the corner of Annandale St (now No. 129). Its architectural style and Sands both seem to indicate that it dates from the 1920’s.
While there is some evidence that it had an association with a confectioner in the early 1920’s, the site was probably first occupied by a grocery and then a fruit shop from about 1925 and became a chemist’s shop in the early 1930’s. JH Helly was a long term proprietor of the chemist’s shop and remained on site into the 1950’s.
The shop appears to have been split into two separate premises in the 1930’s and, in addition to a chemist shop, a fruit shop operated on the site. For periods in the 1940’s a hairdresser and lending library occupied part of the site alongside the chemist’s.
No. 129 NE Cnr Annandale Street
This imposing building probably dates from just after 1910. It seems to have begun life as a grocery. However, in around 1925, it became a wine saloon and remained so into the 1950's under a series of proprietors.
No. 131 NW Cnr Annandale Street
While the building appears to have been heavily modified in the 1920’s, it first traded as a grocery from 1901 when TJ Howe opened a store on the site. By 1915 Mrs Rose Hinnen had acquired the business and in the early 1920’s she converted the store into a confectionery. By 1940 it was a mixed business run by V Dowsett and it remained a mixed business into the 1950’s under the ownership of M Prendergast.
No. 153 NW Cnr Young Street
Although this site on the corner of Young street was probably occupied from around 1910, the current building probably dates from 1924 when EH Smith established a grocery business. The business then passed through a series of hands (as a grocery or mixed business) until at least the 1950’s.
As is evident from its appearance, this popular cafe was once a house. The house probably dates from just before the First World War. Its conversion into commercial premises is relatively recent.
Nos. 6-8 SE Cnr Taylor Street
The site now occupied by a supermarket and adjacent car park probably incorporates a corner site on Taylor Street. On that corner site sits the facade of a commercial building, probably built in the 1920’s or 30’s, which has been incorporated into the modern supermarket structure.
The site once formed part of the large 19th century clay pit and brickworks along Johnston Creek which was one of the first industrial enterprises in Annandale. However, once that business closed in the latter part of that century, most of the site remained vacant until around around World War One. The portion of the site near Taylor Street was probably occupied by DS Farrell, a coach builder from 1917. Mr Farrell may have set up a motor garage on this corner site in the late 1920’s, though this seems to have been short-lived. The shop front on the corner of Taylor Street may date from this time.
It was not until the late 1940’s that industry returned to this part of the site when Vowles Engineering & Boilermaking and Cass Wilson, motor body makers, were both in operation here.
As to the eastern part of the site now largely occupied by a carpark, Saunders & Edwards’ coach and motor works was in operation from 1925. However, by 1930 IXL Fibrous Plaster Ceiling Co had replaced them. A fibrous plaster and ceiling works remained in operation here until around 1940 when DS Farrell seems to have returned to the location to run a carrier’s business. W Fulham, motor car painters took up occupation in 1945.
No. 12 SW Cnr Nelson Street
This portion of Booth Street to the west of Nelson Street now occupied by several shops at Nos. 12 to 22, was undeveloped until the 1920’s. The corner store at No. 12 was built in about 1923 and first housed WJ Barrie’s grocery shop. He remained there until the early 1930’s when Mrs IC Jolly took over the shop. It remained a grocers under a series of proprietors until about 1950 by which time, like many other former groceries, it had become a mixed business under the care of WH Speed.
FW Rodney established a bakery here in 1925. By 1930 he had moved on and Peter Bevans was running a fruit shop. Despite some confusion in Sands, it was probably a cake and pastry shop by the mid 1930’s and by 1940 it was trading under the name “The Success”* pastry and cake shop. From the latter part of the 1940’s and into the 1950’s PE Brindle continued to run a cake shop here.
*It seems to have been the practice in the 1930’s to give cake shops such names. As is noted above, “The Audrey” cake shop operated at what is now No. 101 Booth Street in the 1940’s.
The story of this shop is easy to tell. It is, and has always been, a newsagency. It was built in the early 1920’s (along with No. 14) and by 1923* CW Higgins was running the newsagency. It must have been a success as Higgins remained at the site into the 1950’s. It remains a newsagency today.
*Sands lists earlier occupants from around 1919. Unfortunately Sands did not list occupations at this time. It is assumed that these occupants pre-date the construction of the present newsagency.
This large store front, currently housing a single dry cleaning business on the ground floor and a club on the first floor, formerly housed several separate businesses with two often occupying the ground floor and one on the first floor.
It was built in around 1925, just after the shops to the east. From its inception, a billiard saloon occupied the first floor, initially run by J McMahon. The saloon operated into the 1950’s, by which time it also housed “The Annandale Sports Club”. The saloon and sports club may also have occupied the ground floor shop on the west side in the 1940’s and 50’s.
The shops at street level were at first occupied by Miss Charlotte Olsson, a dressmaker, and E Haines’ hairdressing shop. The latter store continued to be run as a hairdresser and tobacconist until about 1940 when, as noted above, it may have been absorbed into an expanded billiard saloon and club. Miss Olsson’s store continued to be run as a dressmaker's until the early 1930’s when it briefly became a fruit shop. However, by 1935 Mrs A Gorman was again stitching hems and making dresses here with the business later being taken over by Miss Joan Borthwick. In 1945 it became a hairdresser and tobacconists which traded into the 1950’s.
Except for the shop on the corner of Booth and Trafalgar Streets (No. 127 Trafalgar Street) which was probably built just before 1910, the block between Wells and Trafalgar Streets was probably vacant for much of the period up to the 1940’s.
Nos. 34 to 36 which take up most of the block are now occupied by a garden centre which incorporates a building probably dating from the 1930’s and the facade of a more modern building.
Percy Bussell, who we have seen across the road at No. 83 Booth Street, occupied the shop at 127 Trafalgar Street on the corner of Booth Street as a grocer and fuel merchant from about 1908 until around 1914 and may have used part of the site to the east of his shop. A photograph of Mr Bussell’s store and this section of Booth Street in around 1908* can be seen here. It depicts a series of wooden sheds, and possibly a small cottage, east of Bussell’s store, one or more of which may have served Bussell’s fuel business.
However, from 1915 to 1925 the garden centre site was probably again vacant. In 1925 GL Spudden set up one of Booth Street’s several furniture factories on part of the site. The structure referred to above which now forms part of the garden centre may date from that time. However, by 1930 Mr Spudden had moved on and the site seems to have remained vacant through the Great Depression and until about 1935 when WJ Fernon, cereal manufacturer moved to the site. By 1950 Robert Ferguson & Co was making boxes and cases here.
*The photo is said to have been taken in 1906. As it depicts Bussell’s store, it may have been taken a little after that date.
No. 62 Dakota Apartments SW Cnr Trafalgar Street
The modern apartments which now occupy the whole of the block between Trafalgar Street and Johnston Lane sit on one of the suburb’s most significant former industrial sites.
The site was first used in 1895 when Taylor Bros., jam makers, established a factory there. They initially shared the site with William M Evans, a coach maker but by 1905 the factory had expanded and Taylor Bros had the whole block to themselves.
Taylor Bros. had commenced business in Chippendale in the 1870’s. Within several years of setting up their Booth Street factory they had occupied several sites in Annandale including a bulk store just to the north on the east side of Trafalgar Street just north of Booth Street. They later moved the factory to No. 65 Johnston Street and more of their history is described below.
By 1915 Taylor Bros. had left the site and it was occupied by FW Clarke, a licensed spirit merchant and George Younger & Son Ltd, brewers*. Percy Bussell, referred to above, may also have used part of the site for his fuel business at around this time. Between that time and the early 1930’s the site was used by a series of enterprises including a wood and coal business and Harrington’s Photo Works. As will be seen, Harrington’s had a long association with the site.
By the early 1930’s Raycophone was sharing the site with Harrington’s who were by then described variously as metallurgists, assayers and analysts. They worked in association with Raycophone, assisting them to develop and manufacture what, at the time, was cutting edge technology. They were also a marketing arm for Raycophone products.
Raycophone was principally a manufacturer of radiograms for the home and sound equipment for the rapidly expanding cinema industry. In both fields they managed to compete with foreign manufacturers and their equipment was installed in cinemas around Australia and the Pacific. In WWII they shifted production to military hardware. Their large factory remained in the site until the mid-1960’s.
For a short history of the firm and description of the products can be found on the Radio Museum website. A short film produced in 1935 entitled “Inside the Raycophone Factory” which depicts their operations from can be found on YouTube**.
In 1967 Kodak Film demolished the Raycophone facility and constructed a large factory and warehouse on the site. Pictures of the Kodak building can be found on the Museums Victoria site here, here and here.
*It is not known if they were associated with the Scottish brewers of the same name.
** Further information about the firm and its work during World War Two can be found at Annandale on the Web at https://www.ramin.com.au/annandale/story5.shtml. Information about the development of the firm and the market in which it operated from the 1930’s and into the 1950’s see also http://press-files.anu.edu.au/downloads/press/p27481/mobile/ch11s02.html. See also da Cruz, 1920s Annandale page 46; da Cruz, 1930’s Annandale
Nos. 68-70 SW Cnr Johnston Lane
This building is at the rear of the North Annandale Hotel. Early photos of the hotel show a long low building, possibly stables, stretching east of the hotel along Booth Street to Johnston Lane with cottage in between hotel and this building. It is not clear if the present building is a remnant of those stables. In any event the site seems to have been used in conjunction with the hotel until relatively recent times, though as with No. 72 below, it may have been used by a furniture manufacturer and wood and coal merchant in the 1930’s.
The current structure is modern and is incorporated into the North Annandale Hotel. The site shares its history with Nos. 68-70 above.
This handsome federation style building consists of two commercial premises with the one to the East (No. 78) the larger of the two. They were built in or just after 1910. It is not clear if they were built at the same time, though what is now No. 78 was first listed in Sands before No. 80.
From about 1910 Robert Willis ran a butchery at No. 78. He remained there until about 1925 when T Bury took over the business. Victor Dommett acquired the butchery in the early 1930s and operated it into at least the 1950’s. A good picture of the building as at 1928 can be found here.
No. 80 seems to have commenced operation shortly after No. 78. It was first occupied by a retail confectioner in about 1915 and after a short stint as a ham and beef shop, it was occupied by a “cash store” and then a grocery from the 1940’s into the 1950’s.
No. 102 SE Cnr Alfred Street
The building now on this site is difficult to date with any precision as it has obviously gone through many changes since it was first built.
A laundry has operated on the site since 1894 under the ownership of Henry Dixon. Thereafter a series of laundry businesses operated on the site, including the “Kent Laundry”, from the 1930’s until the late 1940’s.
In about 1950, the site was occupied by a timber merchant, Macwood Pty Ltd.