Demolition Reveals 1911 Garage Wall Ad, King Street Newtown

This Tuesday’s and Saturday’s Phantom Dancer features Spotlight Bands’ ‘Band of the Week’ for 31 January 1942. It’s Sammy Kaye, over the Blue Network

His best-selling record that got him the ‘Band of the Week’ gig? A ditty entitled ‘Remember Pearl Harbour’

Turns out NBC interrupted a Sammy Kaye program to break the news of Pearl Harbour being bombed, 7 December 1941. Hence the message song. And like all message songs, well – you be the judge

See the full play list for this week’s Phantom Dancer after these exciting pics

That’s right, photos. Instead of a Video of the Week, I’m posting some exciting archeological photos I took for you just a few hours ago.

There was a fire near me recently. A dry cleaners burnt to the ground. The building has been demolished. And behind a demolished wall a well-preserved painted advertisement has been revealed

I guessed by the artwork and fonts that the ad was from 1911. A quick look at the Sands Directory tells me I’m about right. The Sands Directory was an annual listing of everyone who lived in Sydney with their addresses and occupations. The last Sands was published in 1932

In 1910, according to Sands, the site of the demolished dry cleaners was the Newtown Carriage Works — Arthur Dunn, proprietor. In 1911, it became H. Phippen’s motor garage. He was a motor engineer. By 1912, Phippen had left and Arthur Dunn’s Coachbuilding business had returned. Or, perhaps, between 1911 – 1914, the site was shared between the coach building and garage businesses – new technology piggybacking on the old. By 1915 the site was occupied by an upholsterer

Because of a locked wire gate I couldn’t get a full shot of this huge, vibrant ad from the street. So below is a series of shots covering the entire wall I took from the footpath. In this first photo, note ‘Cars for Hire’ and ‘Waratah Motor Spirit’. What would have been the demand for Car hire in 1911? Was H. Phippen ahead of his time? Did low demand beat his business? It’s not listed in the Sands Directory for 1912

1911 Garage Wall Ad - King St, Newtown
1911 Garage Wall Ad - King St, Newtown

Waratah Motor Spirit appears to have still been around in 1925 when you could buy it from twelve outlets around Sydney, according to an ad in the Sydney Morning Herald dated 28 Jan 1925. As you can see in the bottom of the wall ad, Waratah, was a product of the Neptune Oil Company. Neptune Oil began in Australia in 1905. A motoring website says Neptune’s Waratah brand was introduced in 1917. This ad proves the motoring historian wrong. The site became an upholsterers in 1915. An upholsterer wouldn’t be putting up an all-weather sign visible to passing motorists for Motor Spirit

Perdriau Tyres Sign - is this the earlist extant?
Perdriau Tyres Sign - is this the earliest extant?

Perdriau Tyres? Henry Perdriau entered the rubber importing business in Sydney in 1888. His Perdriau Rubber Co. Ltd. started manufacturing rubber parts in 1904 and finally merged with Dunlop in 1929 to form Dunlop Perdriau Rubber Co. Ltd. Could this be the earliest Perdriau wall sign extant? A Perdriau glass lantern slide ad from 1924 – 29 exists in the ANU Digital Collection in Canberra

Detail of the Waratah Motor Spirit sign
Detail of the Waratah Motor Spirit sign

It’s hard to see in the photo below, but on site I could just make out the phone number L1905. L stood for 5 and was the area prefix for Newtown and surrounding Inner West Sydney suburbs. Sydney phone numbers used one and two letter prefixes until the mid-1960s. The code was: A = 1, B = 2, F = 3, J = 4, L = 5, M = 6, U = 7, W = 8, X = 9, Y = 0

Garage and Phone Number L1905
Garage and Phone Number L1905

Some more pics. The sign-writing is of an extremely high standard. The Waratah is a beautiful piece of commercial art. The amount of effort involved in sign writing such a huge space by hand is quite extraordinary, especially if they used, as my grandfather did about the same time as a house painter, individually mixed paints. My grandfather would crush blocks of pigment with a mortar & pestle and mix the powder with linseed oil and I guess some kind of fixer. I particularly like the blue used in the top band of the sign. It’s a colour you don’t see now. The uneven durability of hand-made paint is revealed in the preservation of the different colours. The green lettering for the phone number and the red fill for the Waratah are the most deteriorated

Having been protected by the sun and weather for almost a hundred years by a brick wall, this is a most amazingly intact piece of commercial pre-WWI art

A new building will be erected on the site. Will the sign survive another 100 years? After the photos you’ll see the play list for this week’s Phantom Dancer on 2SER

Here’s this week’s Phantom Dancer play list. Enjoy the show on your radio!

Play List – The Phantom Dancer
107.3 2SER-FM Sydney

Tuesday 29 November 2011
12 noon – 1:30pm (+11 hours GMT)

Live stream on

Saturday 3 December 2011
12 noon – 1:30pm (+11 hours GMT)

Live stream on

The Wireless
Lobby Lud
Set 1
Theme (I’ll See You In My Dreams) + Got The Sun In The Morning
Leighton Noble Orchestra (voc) Helen Lynn
‘One Night Stand’
Starlight Roof
Waldorf Astoria Hotel

AFRS Re-broadcast
21 Jun 1946

Moonlight Serenade (theme) + At Sundown

Glenn Miller Orchestra
Glen Island Casino
New Rochelle
Oct 1939

Intro + Careless Hands

Frank Siantra and the hit Paraders (voc) Axel Stordahl Orchestra

‘Your Hit Parade’
20 Apr 1949

What Will I Tell My Heart? + Blue Skies (Close)

Jo Stafford (voc) Victor Young Orchestra
‘Your Melody Hour’
5 Aug 1951
Set 2
Maramao, Perche Sei Morto?
Maria Jottini & Trio Lescano with Orchestra
Comes Love
Paul Whiteman Orchestra
‘Chesterfield Show’
9 Aug 1939
Birmingham Special + Theme
Glen Gray & The Casa Loma Orchestra
‘GI Jive’
AFRS Hollywood
Blue Skies + Close
Bob Chester
‘One Night Stand’
Panther Room
Hotel Sherman
AFRS Re-broadcast
8 Oct 1944
Set 3

Open + Elmers Tune + Let’s Have Another Cup Of Coffee + Remember Pearl Harbour + Close
Sammy Kaye Orchestra (voc) Band & The 3 Kaydettes
‘Spotlight Bands’
Blue Network
Washington DC
21 Feb 1942
Set 4

Blue Room Jump
Count Basie Orchestra
Blue Room
Hotel Lincoln
May 1944
Honeysuckle Rose
Harry James Orchestra (g) Allen Reuss
Palladium Ballroon
1-2-3-4 Jump
Woody Herman Orchestra
‘Woody Herman Show’
27 Sep 1944
Flying Home
Benny Goodman Quintet
AFRS Hollywood
Set 5

Eine Insel Aus Traeumen Geboren
Hans Rehmstedt Orchestra (voc) Rudi Schuricke
Comm Rec
Dec 1938
Les Brown Orchestra (voc) Billy Eckstine
Radio Transcription
Sep 1949
Ain’t Got Nothin’ But The Blues
Lena Horne (voc) Fletcher Henderson Orchestra
AFRS Hollywood
To Each His Own
Claude Thornhill Orchestra
Steel Pier
Atlantic City NJ
24 Aug 1956
Set 6
Ben Webster Quintet
C Jam Blues
Duke Ellington Orchestra
‘Date With The Duke’
Paradise Theatre
ABC Detroit
19 May 1945
Buddy Rich Quartet
7 Nov 1958

7 Replies to “Demolition Reveals 1911 Garage Wall Ad, King Street Newtown”

  1. What a pitty that young people cannot recognise true australian art and choose to deface this image with rubbish scratchings they call tagging. If they want to be sign writers they should go to tafe and learn how it is done properly and earn money at the same time. “Just grow up you oxygen thieves” Yes you taggers !!!

    1. Jeremy, since the first fool did their embarrassing, schoolbook scribble on the wall, the bottom half of the sign has now been completely defaced in a artless act of malicious cupidity by person or persons tormented by their own ugliness and congenital stupidity. The bland, blank wall alongside the vintage sign remains completely untouched. These morons love bland and blank. It’s what they are. The historic Perdriau Tyres sign and Waratah Motor Spirit Ad are now gone forever. I haven’t bothered to photograph or blog about it because I wasn’t interested in giving these art thieves ‘oxygen’. They stole from all of us. They are the epitome of ‘consume, be silent, die’. Fortunately the Motorlife Museum near Albion Park had taken measurements of the sign before the last set of fools got to it. Real artists will be reproducing the sign in their museum

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