(Click on this picture, and the ones below, to enlarge)
Byters may have heard or read in the news broadcasts last Friday that an electrical fire in the basement of the Bank Hotel in Newtown closed King Street during the afternoon peak hour. Thirty firefighters brought the fire under control with damage limited to the basement.
The Bank Hotel was constructed in 1880 and became a gay and lesbian venue prior to a major refurbishment. It is now an upmarket hotel, dining and function establishment and still has a gay and lesbian following, as well as catering to a cross section of the local community.
Some earlier pics of the Bank Hotel:
Newtown c 1908
The Banks Hotel is the building with the balcony and Sydney lace between the two trams, in the centre of the photograph. The pole at the front holds a tram signal. It is interesting to note that there is not a car to be seen and that pedestrains are strolling in various parts of the street, unconcerned by the traffic. The reason is that the traffic consisted of trams, which move on fixed rails, and horses and carts, such as those in front of the Banks Hotel. Today the same area is a car precinct.
Some other points to note:
- The tram conductor on the outside of the tram on the right, his job being to move from compartment to compartment to collect fares.
- The gas lights on the left of the photograph.
- Most of the buildings shown still remain.
Relaying tram tracks in Newtown, 1927. The building shown is the Bank Hotel.
By the way, Newtown’s name came from a grocery store opened there by John and Eliza Webster in 1832, at a site close to where the Newtown railway station stands today. The Websters’ grocery store had a sign on the roof that read "New Town Stores". The area became known by that name and it is first recorded as an area name in 1832.