Urban Exploration – The Gerard & Goodman Building

Alfred Gerard started his career in the electrical industry in 1897 with the opening of his own camera shop.  He later worked with electrical firm Davis Purvis before moving on to the well-known company of Ellis & Clark. In 1907, with a loan of ₤100 from his father-in-law William Goodman, he set up his own contracting business and soon had enough work to hire an assistant. When his workforce reached five he moved the business into the basement of a bicycle shop at 200 Rundle Street Adelaide. The company name “Gerard and Goodman” was registered on 3 August 1908.   Alfred Gerard started his electrical merchandising business, Gerard & Goodman, in Rundle Street in 1907. The company quickly established itself as the major engineering manufacturer and retailer in the city. Soon Gerard & Goodman was the largest company of its kind in South Australia, manufacturing, importing, retailing and repairing a wide range of electrical accessories and operating a photography, radio and ‘talkie-movie’ department. One of its most well-known products, clip-on metal conduit fittings, provided electrical contractors with an innovative solution to the issue of size variation in metal conduits (ie: it clips-all). The name was abbreviated to “Clipsal”, a now famous South Australian brand name.  


Gerard & Goodman warehouses, Synagogue Place, 1928 (source: State Library Of South Australia)


In 1921 the company purchased land in Synagogue Place, and showrooms, offices and a factory were built here. Starting as a two storey building, it was extended several times, with two further floors added to the original two-storey building in 1927-1928.  Whilst the main entrance was located in Synagogue Place, access to the bulk store was located at the rear entrance on Tavistock Street.  As business expanded and diversified, he bought the shop at 132 Rundle Street for an electrical and radio retail and repair shop. That arm of the business was later transferred to 192–196 Rundle Street east, adjacent to the Synagogue Place warehouse.



Gerard & Goodman, Rundle Street, 1939 (source: State Library Of South Australia)


Alfred’s son Geoff eventually took over the company, and it soon spearheaded several manufacturing breakthroughs, including the invention of the first all-Australian switch in 1930. The company also did early R&D on thermoplastics in the 1950s.

 Gerard & Goodman eventually moved its manufacturing operations to Bowden where a factory was built in 1936.  Gerard & Goodman retained a retail presence in Rundle Street well into the 1970s.  In 2003 the Gerard family sold its interest in the Clipsal business to Schneider Electric but retained a number of other non-electrical accessories businesses.

 In March 2017, the Gerard & Goodman building in Synagogue Place was demolished to make way for a new student accommodation precinct and a new chapter in Adelaide’s history.


Urban Exploration – HQ Complex

When HQ Complex shut it’s doors for the final time in January I knew I had to find a way inside and capture some final images before it was lost forever.

The Newmarket Hotel and HQ Complex stands at the corner of North and West Terrace.  It was at this site on 11 January 1837 that Colonel William Light began his famous survey to lay out the city of Adelaide.  The site was known as Town Acre 1 as Colonel Light laid out the city of Adelaide in 750 one acre lots.  A market was established on the land opposite and the New Market Inn was quickly established on the present site. The existing grand hotel building of today was designed by Daniel Garlick and was erected in 1884.  The name was changed to the Newmarket Hotel.


The Newmarket Hotel

The uniquely South Australian beer size ‘the butcher’ is said to have originated at the Newmarket Hotel as butchers gathered there from the cattle yards opposite (now the site of the new RAH).


1950s Newmarket Hotel

In the 1970s, a discotheque opened at the site – Bojangles.  Later this became Joplins.  1993 saw the arrival of Adelaide’s first super-club at the site – Heaven.   Heaven ran for many years before closing in the early 2000’s.  It reopened under new ownership and management as HQ and became the premier nightclub in Adelaide.


Heaven in the mid 1990s

HQ closed at the Newmarket Hotel site in January 2017, with the building set to be demolished to make way for a $200 million, 24-storey residential and retail tower.  The heritage listed Newmarket Hotel will be retained.  A “new HQ” is currently being built in Hindley Street.


The new HQ being built in Hindley Street

HQ and Heaven both hosted a swag of international stars over many years.  Even the mirror ball is famous – it’s the very same ball that Madonna sat atop during her Girlie Show concerts in Australia!



Farewell HQ – thanks for the memories.

Urban Exploration - Urbex - Abandoned Adelaide - Glenside Hospital

Urban Exploration – Glenside Hospital – The Birches, The Grove & The Occupational Therapy Centre

Continuing my series on the various buildings and wards which make up the former Glenside Hospital.  For more than a century the collection of buildings now known as Glenside Hospital were home to Adelaide’s abandoned, sick and insane. Within the walls of the 130 acre hospital were countless tales not just of sorrow but also ground-breaking, world-first advancements in the treatment of the mentally ill.

One of the older buildings remaining on the Glenside Hospital site is the original Wash House, Drying Room and Laundry.  This remains one of the earliest buildings constructed on the site after the original main building.  Originally built to be a laundry in 1879, in the mid 1920’s this building was converted into a Nurses’ Cottage. In 1954 it became a sewing room and later an occupational therapy centre.  It is heritage listed and will be retained irrespective of the pending Glenside development.

The Birches and The Grove are both more modern facilities constructed in the late 1970s.  These wards treated a range of conditions and held a range of patients on site.  These included geriatric patients and, later, forensic patients prior to the construction of James Nash House.  These buildings will soon be demolished to make way for The Glenside redevelopment.


Urban Exploration – The Penrice Soda Factory

Disclaimer: For various reasons, I have sat on publishing this post for over two years.  Shortly after the closure of Penrice Soda, I was invited by a fellow photographer to take some exterior images of the Penrice Soda site under a full moon.  I was intrigued at this huge industrial juggernaut standing quiet and empty.  Soon after that, a local auction firm held a massive two-day on site auction.  This provided me the opportunity to move beyond the cordoned-off areas and capture some daytime images.  At the time the site presented numerous hazards and was relatively unsecured and soon became a target for vandalism.  To protect the integrity of the site and the health and wellbeing of others, I have kept the majority of images from Penrice unpublished until now.  The site is now mostly demolished and has active 24/7 security onsite.  I caution against attempting access.  The images here are over two years old and present a record of the site at that point in time.

Penrice Soda Products was founded by ICI in 1935.  Named after it’s quarry near the small town of Penrice, Penrice Holdings operated for nearly 80 years and was Australia’s only producer of soda ash and sodium bicarbonate for products such as wine bottles and stockfeed.

Torrens Island, from east side of river

Photographer : George Hutton Date of original:c1960

The sprawling 14.7 hectare Soda Ash plant at Osborne used salt from Dry Creek, South Australia which was normally harvested in autumn and piped as a saturated brine solution across the Port River to the plant.  Lime came from the company’s mine at Angaston and was shipped to Osborne by rail (Penrice Soda Products was the last company in South Australia to use the broad gauge rail network in South Australia with Genesee & Wyoming operating the Penrice Stone Train from the Penrice Quarry to the Osborne soda ash factory. It ceased operating in June 2014 when the Osborne factory closed).

A combination of rising debt, attempted restructures and a difficult couple of years following the GFC pushed the company to the edge.  The high dollar, rising costs and uncertainty from the carbon tax eventually forced the closure of the plant.  In August 2013 Penrice’s full year financial results showed a statutory net loss after tax of $50.1 million.  It also showed net debt had increased to $112.1 million.  An auditor’s report released in February 2014 stated that the company’s liabilities exceeded its assets by $58.7 million.  There was little option but for the company to be placed into liquidation in August 2014.  At the time, Penrice was the fifth largest producer of soda ash in the world.

A substantial clean-up of the site and its surrounds is currently underway with future use options still being explored.







Urban Exploration – AMCOR Factory, Melbourne, Victoria

I called this site Autopsy Of Adelaide as I wanted to document the forgotten history of Adelaide and the fleeting nature of things as Adelaide transitions to a modern and bustling city.  But of course abandonment, loss of history and the demise of manufacturing are not limited to South Australia.  And so last year we packed the car and headed the 750 kilometres across the border to Melbourne.  I had a few locations listed that I wanted to visit.  We were fortunate that some contacts in Melbourne made us aware of a massive site that was in the advanced stages of demolition.

Amcor paper manufacturing had operated from a 16 hectare site in suburban Melbourne for nearly 100 years.  But, with ever increasing environmental demands, ageing infrastructure and a desperate need for development land for housing, the factory closed in 2013.  By the time we arrived only the large machine house and turbine house remained standing.


Samuel Ramsden, a Yorkshire man, founded the first paper mill in Victoria on the banks of the Yarra River.  This was the Australian Paper and Pulp Company which for most of its history was called The Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. until it changed its name in 1986 to Amcor.  In 1918 the company opened its mill in the suburb of Fairfield where it remained until it’s 2013 closure.  The land was originally a large Yarra bank property named ‘Woodlands’ but soon became the largest industrial complex in the area.

The mill expanded during the 1930s with a 15-ton turbo electric generator bought in 1932 and transported in two halves from Victoria Dock to Fairfield.  This was a huge technological advance for the mill as the generator was one of the first of its kind to be used in private industry in Australia.  It also established an early form of household recycling with a call to households to sponsor charities to collect waste paper and sell it to the A.P.M. for recycling into cardboard.  Further expansions in the post-war boom of the 1950s saw the construction of a new boiler house, pump house and machine rooms.

In 2013, the company, now known was Amcor, opted to consolidate operations to Botany in New South Wales and close the Fairfield site.

I hope you enjoy this look inside.

Urban Exploration – Edmund Wright House

One of the iconic buildings of King William Street, Edmund Wright House holds a special place in the heart of many South Australians.  Some will remember it as an active, working bank.  Others will be amongst the 67,000 people who signed a petition to prevent its demolition in 1971.  And perhaps others were married here in its later years as the office of the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages.  While it lay dormant and empty, awaiting its next incarnation, I slipped inside to see what lays beyond the grand foyer of this magnificent building.
“Edmund Wright House” was built as the headquarters for the Bank of South Australia and completed in 1878.  Prior to the completion of this building, the colony’s first bank operated from three weatherboard rooms located on North Terrace.  Prior to this the bank operated from a canvas tent where they began in 1837!   The Bank Of South Australia acquired the King William Street site in 1874 and organised a design competition with a first prize of £200.

Edmund Wright, either individually, or with associates E.J. Woods and Daniel Garlick had already designed several prominent buildings including the Methodist Church Meeting Hall, the Adelaide Town Hall and St Lawrence Church and Priory in North Adelaide.  Edmund Wright and Melbourne architect Lloyd Tayler had just won the competition for the South Australian Houses Of Parliament when they also won the Bank Of South Australia design competition.  Work commenced in 1875.  Costing £63,000 to erect, it was the noblest commercial building erected in colonial Adelaide.

In 1892, the Bank of South Australia was taken over by the Union Bank who then moved into the premises. In 1951, Union Bank merged with the Bank of Australasia to become the ANZ Bank and by 1969 had outgrown the King William Street premises.  The building was subsequently sold to Mainline Corporation, a Sydney development group, who intended to build a 19 story office block on the site.

Negative public reaction met the proposal.  Some 67,000 people petitioned against the building’s demolition and a public appeal raised $250,000.  After a bitter nine month battle, the South Australian Government, with Premier Don Dunstan at the helm, agreed to purchase the building for $750,000.  It was formally listed as a State Heritage Place and the building was restored before being renamed “Edmund Wright House”.  Some see this as an injustice to the principal architect Lloyd Tayler.  Tayler was seen as the creative of the relationship but little credit is given to his work on the building.  His reputation and legacy live on today in Melbourne architecture.

Since its 1972 acquisition by the State Government, the building has played host to various Government departments.  For many years it housed the offices of the Registrar Of Births, Deaths and Marriages, with many civil ceremonies conducted within its grand halls.   The building became unoccupied for a period in 1995 and was later used by the State History Centre and, more recently, the Migrant Resource Centre.  As such, some of the grandeur of the building has been lost behind modern carpeting and internal modifications.

In 2016, the building was offered on the open market on a 99 year leasehold.  It is hoped that the future occupant restores the internals of this building to their former glory and it becomes publically accessible once more.

As more and more of our heritage buildings are consumed and destroyed in the name of progress, one should look to “Edmund Wright House” and the support of 67,000 people who believed in heritage preservation enough to pressure the government to intervene.  One wonders how the state’s Minister for Heritage, Mr Rau, might react in similar circumstances today.

Urban Exploration – Adelaide’s Maughan Church

Maughan Church and Mission was constructed in 1964/1965 on the site of the original Methodist Church built in 1865.  An octagonal church, it was described as Contemporary Gothic, featuring a folded plate roof, parquetry timber ceiling and tall slit windows that formed a 24 sided crown.  Designed by architects Gordon C Brown and Donald L Davies, and noted in the Heritage Register as “a notable and prominent example of contemporary Gothic church architecture which is rare in South Australia and unique in the city centre”.

Maughan Church was named after local preacher James Maughan (1826-1871), who, in 1864, organised the building of a church on the site large enough to accommodate 600 people.  The original 1865 Methodist church established the Central Mehodist Mission on this site in 1900, providing outreach services to the poor.  In 1943, the Methodist Church acquired the license for Radio Station 5KA and broadcast from this site.  During World War two, the station was taken off air for a period of time under suspicion off supplying coded information to the enemy.  With the establishment of LifeLine on the site in 1963, larger and more modern facilities were required and hence the new church was  commissioned.


Original 1865 Methodist Church


 Original Methodist Church with added Mission Buildings


Original Mission Buildings with 5KA signage


1964 demolition of Mission Buildings

The new church project was supervised by Reverend Erwin Vogt who saw the importance of retaining a church in the city centre rather than relocating to a suburban location.  he described the city as the centre of government, education, commerce and mass communication, and noted that many people in the city were served by this church.  in his words “they live in houses, apartments and in lonely rooms. They board in hotels and hostels. They are nurses and students, caretakers….landlords, executives and labourers.  Many are New Australians and many are aged…the off-beat generation come to congregate night after night. They are shopkeepers living in the city; prostitutes have their rooms in the city; there are little children”.

Uniting Communities conducted outreach services from this site until it’s closure in 2016. Radio Station 5KA operated from the site for many years.  Congregation numbers dwindled over the years and, in its last few years, Maughan Church offered Chinese and Sudanese services.

Uniting Communities cited that the building “was tired looking and in need of significant maintenance and repair work”.  Opting to demolish the church and its surrounding structures, the church instead plan to construct a 20 storey building with apartments for retirees and people with disabilities, along with space to continue church services.


Artists impression of the new development

Demolition commenced in August 2016 and was completed in September.  Construction of the new building will commence within months.

Thank you to Uniting Communities for allowing access to take some final images prior to the demolition.