Photograph by Chris Priest
Photograph by Chris Priest
Competition for technical assessment services, labour, and equipment was fierce. Extensive restoration work was required before the building was safe to enter.
Gerard recalls urging Cathy Jones, who was processing the customer payroll deductions, to hurry. She refused to go until she had finished. “These people won’t get their pay if I leave now. Just wait!” she ordered Gerard.
Each day, Sandra went to the barricades at the intersection of Denison and Beaumont Streets to collect the staff lunch orders. Beaumont Street was eerily quiet.
Another house in Hamilton (belonging to a staff member’s relative) was the depot for delivery of the magnetic tapes of data, which were then carried by hand to 123 Denison Street. Gerard’s Merewether flat was used at the weekend.
It started as a single office in Beaumont Street run by Mr F W Lean, whose wife was his Assistant.
Beaumont Street, Hamilton
Photograph courtesy of the Greater Collection
At this time, home ownership was beyond the reach of many, because of high unemployment and the economic depression. Then along came Starr - Bowkett societies. They were modelled on a scheme set up in England by a London surgeon Dr T E Bowkett, who was also a progressive thinker and a unionist.
The society has changed its name over the years and is now known as Greater Building Society Ltd, reflecting its reach beyond Newcastle.
In 1869, the first Hamilton Wesleyan Church was built on the intersection of the south west corner of Tudor and Beaumont Street. A two story Parsonage was built on the corner of Tudor and William Street.
In 1946, when its Lindsay Street offices became inadequate, the Building Society moved to a new one story building on Tudor Street, between the Parsonage and the Bank of NSW.
In 1964 the Building Society built a three story building in Beaumont Street and redesigned the frontage to the Tudor Street buildings.
Also that year, 1976, the Building Society bought the Bank of NSW building, which had ceased operating, and moved its main branch there.
Photograph Chris Priest
The final step in transforming this site was taken over a three year period, from 2001 to 2004. Designed by Suters Architects, a new 6 story building extension has been integrated closely with the existing six story block, and the restored Bank of NSW building. The beautiful 1930s neo-classical building is now heritage listed.
Photograph by Matthew Ward
It was during this redevelopment that the footings of historical Wesleyan Chapel were found and are now on display in its foyer.
Three Bean Espresso's Apothecary Kitchen
In November 2014, fifteen months after this story was posted, a book capturing the highlights of this blog will be published by Hunter Press. In a special collaboration, the Greater Building Society generously sponsored the book Hidden Hamilton. This ensured a quality publication retailing at an affordable price. Hunter Press and author Ruth Cotton gratefully acknowledge this support.
In June 2016, the Greater was renamed the Greater Bank.
Unattributed photographs by Ruth Cotton.