Progressive Adelaide 75 years on
Gustav Hermann Baring was born in 1879 in South Australia from German parents. While living in Broken Hill he became foreman-compositor at the Barrier Truth. In 1910 he started Baring Printers in Chesser Street Adelaide followed a year later by the Glenelg Guardian which today is called the Guardian Messenger. He also wrote advertising slogans. One of them still used today is the ‘Buy direct and bank the difference’ for McLeay Carpets.
To celebrate South Australia’s 100th birthday in 1936 he started work in 1934 on his most ambitious publishing project Progressive Adelaide – As It Stands To-day. It took 15 months to complete. Baring took almost all the photographs, did the research and wrote the advertising material with Port Pirie raised Les J. Kyte. When the printing was completed 40 women were employed to bind the book.
Progressive Adelaide, Baring’s 1936 gift to South Australia, embraced Adelaide and its seaside resorts, creating a near perfect record of the Central Business District of the 1930’s. To finance his project Baring included advertising which also gave a profile of its business life. It was his book that became the inspiration for the present volume City Streets, Progressive Adelaide 75 years on.
Advertising was just as important in 1936 as it is today. For a good car Fox Motor Co. at 103 Waymouth Street was the place to go. Here was ‘Adelaide’s leading dealer in modern and genuinely low-mileaged used cars with Liberal allowance on your present car’. Aero-dynamic Hupmobiles, with 6 or 8 cylinders were sold at Lynas & Fenwick in Franklin Street. For spare parts the best place was Motor Traders in Flinders Street. There was no waiting on the phone either as it had six lines. The ABC Tourist Bureau on Victoria Square had only two lines. Phone numbers were easier to remember too in 1936 as they had at the most only four digits.
Coffee was available at West’s Coffee Palace at 110 Hindley street, which provided a garage for free parking. For a workout Hughie Whitman, Southern Hemisphere and Australasian Middleweight Wrestling Champion conducted a Physical Culture College on North Terrace. However even in 1936 not all roads lead to Rome. They lead to the Central Market where Nielsen’s of Mount Lofty had their stall, which was 'famous throughout the State for homemade preserves and all kinds of Fresh Dairy Produce'.
City Streets provides a unique snapshot of Adelaide at two point in time, Baring’s 1936 and Campbell and Bradley’s 2011. Adelaide’s Lord Mayor Stephen Yarwood wrote that the images provide a fantastic insight into how Adelaide has grown from virtually a country town into a place of international standing.
Some street scapes appear virtually unchanged, while others, including its businesses, have sadly disappeared altogether. The book depicts Adelaide’s main streets. By looking at the old Baring photographs and the new ones by Mick Bradley, who has visited every address in the original book and produced 1800 images, we can follow the changes of the last 75 years. They are often juxta-positioned on the same page for easy recognition with the story behind them told by Lance Campbell.
In doing so the book chronicles two eras of a capital city never published before. It is certainly not your usual coffee table decoration. It is rather a captivating record of a city in its many forms providing a beautiful but sometimes sad record of what has survived and what has disappeared.
Campbell relates some of the stories behind the buildings; when they were build, who build them, who paid for them, who used them, what were they used for and what materials were used from where. Few people will know that the former Waterhouse Chambers, directly across from the Beehive Corner was paid for by the Burra Burra copper mine in the 1840s.
Fewer still know that some of the buildings such as the former Treasury Buildings were designed by Colonial Architect George Strickland Kingston and built in 1839. Another one of his buildings still in use today is the Laubman & Pank building in Grenfell Street.
While some of the first stone came from a quarry behind Government house, sandstone and free stone came from Tea Tree Gully, limestone from Waikerie and granite from the Murray Bridge area. Limestone was used for the Old Parliament House, reinforced concrete for Kitcher’s building in 1907 and the National War Memorial on North Terrace, built in 1931 used marble from Angaston and Macclesfield.
Among some of the buildings still remaining are the Queens Theatre built in 1841, Old Parliament house 1843, Ayers House 1846, Scots Church 1851, Adelaide Town Hall 1866, Prince Alfred Hotel 1869, Freemasons Hall and the Adelaide Post Office both built in 1872 and the Botanic Hotel in 1877 to name but a few. Edmund Wright House built in 1878 nearly became rubble a hundred years later but was saved by Don Dunstan and some public money.
Among buildings and businesses that did disappear are several hotels, cinemas, shop, large and small. Some buildings have found new users. Among its best examples are the Samuel Way Building, a former shop and Tandanya in Grenfell Street which was the site of the Electricity building.
City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 years on, is an extraordinary book chronicling two very distinct eras of a capital city. A totally absorbing body of work taking the reader on an engaging stroll past Adelaide’s street fronts of 75 years ago and today. It is a collector’s item for anyone interested in architecture, history or urban development. It is also a unique book about a unique city. No photographic project of this scope has been attempted in Adelaide, and possibly in the world since Baring’s book in 1936.
Review by Nic Klaassen
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City Streets by Lance Campbell and Mick Bradley,
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