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Can you date these photographs of Parramatta?

A moment in time……

Thanks for all your detailed responses to the photo of Circular Quay in the last post – they covered everything from fashion to electrical wiring! We also managed to establish a date of c.1899.

This time we have decided to head west to Parramatta. Below are two images of Parramatta; one of the Town Hall and a view of Church Street.  The photographs come from NRS 12932 Original Prints of Photographs used in NSW trainsthe series as a whole has been assigned a rough date range of 1935-1969. Can we use this as our starting point?

Larger version on Flickr

Town Hall, Parramatta (NSW)

Larger version on Flickr

View of Parramatta River (NSW)

We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

  • Melissa says:

    On first glance, the clothing worn by the ladies in both photos suggests the 1930s. In addition, the Murray Bros shop opened at the Macquarie/Church St site in the 1930s. With the scene portrayed, it looks like the Great Depression has passed, so a couple more years can be eliminated.

    August 9, 2010 at 6:32 pm
  • michael lightfoot says:

    The car in the town hall photo definitely suggests 1936-8 or later (I’m not an expert and someone else my recognise the exact model.)

    The clothing in the second photo suggests either just pre-WW2 or during the war. There are no definite military uniforms in the photos so I would hazard a guess of 1938-9.

    Enigmatically the sign in the second phot says “This way to the Soldiers Hall M—-” – I can’t make out the final word, but it may be crucial to dating.

    August 10, 2010 at 12:24 pm
  • Jenny says:

    Though I too think the photos date from before WW2 I can see a lot of the Parramatta I grew up in as a child in the 1950s – this part of Parra. didn’t change a lot till the 60s and 70s – the cars and fashions did though!
    The photos are taken from the lovely St. John’s Church park looking eastwards over Church Street at the Town Hall and north, up Church Street, over the Macquarie Street intersection and Murray Bros. corner.

    As usual I can suggest dating of the cars.

    In the Town Hall photo –
    •the car on the left is undoubtedly a US make, has the classic full ‘teardrop’ mudguards of 1935-37 styling, ‘bullet’ fender mounted parking lights, ‘suicide’ doors and front vent window. It is possibly a 1936/37 Buick, ’35 Olds or ’37 Hudson.
    •The car on the extreme right is likely 1934-36 vintage
    •The neon sign for the Rialto Cabaret refers to an upstairs dance venue that was also known to the locals in the late 30s as “the Rex”.

    In the Murray’s corner photo – all of the identifiable cars are mid to late 1930s (except of course the mid-1920s tourer in photo centre). Way, way down the street there’s a car facing camera that could be 1940-41 but I think more likely it to be pre-1940.

    The cars in the photos would have been common enough in Church Street into at least the 1950s, however in either photo I cannot clearly see any cars that I would date as being made after 1937.

    Next to Murray Brothers building (built 1920s) is the 3 storey Commercial Bank, then the Parramatta Post Office, then the Commonwealth Bank, which I think was built on the site of a 19th cent. Presbyterian Church.

    Perhaps someone can determine the date for the building of the Commonwealth Bank (later HMV) building. Also knowing when the Commercial Bank was taken down might assist too.

    The sign to the Soldiers Hall refers to a old building along Macquarie Street that was used by the WW1 returned soldiers and as a recruiting and citizens military centre, later replaced by the RSL built at the end of Macquarie Street.

    Over to the fashion gurus for some date clues on what the ladies are wearing.

    August 11, 2010 at 10:48 am
  • Jenny says:

    An Aside – The milk bar advertising Peter’s Ice Cream on the corner of Church and Macquarie Streets was run, for a year or so, by John Goffage later known as actor ‘Chips’ Rafferty during the 1930s. This is not always mentioned in his biographies but older citizens remember him there in those days.

    August 11, 2010 at 6:30 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    That’s wonderful to know there is a connection to ‘showbiz’. There’s nothing like local knowledge!
    Here is the Australian Dictionary of Biography link to Chips Rafferty


    @Melissa That was a good hint about the Murray Bros store – I found a newspaper article about the opening of the store on Trove dated 20 March 1926.

    @michael lightfoot I tried to decipher that sign on a slightly larger version of the image. That last word may be Macquarie but I can’t say for sure.

    @Jenny you have such great knowledge of the cars of this period! Not to mention your in-depth local expertise. Combining the cars with the info from @Melissa and @michael lightfoot we are definitely looking at the 1930s.

    August 12, 2010 at 3:06 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    I don’t know if it helps necessarily but this YouTube video uploaded by the Australian War Memorial contains footage of a parade through Parramatta in 1940.
    (the relevant footage is between 0:38 and 1:05)

    August 12, 2010 at 3:58 pm
  • Jenny says:

    Interestingly the War Memorial footage of the 1940 parade of the 21st Light Horse Regiment would have been filmed from the footpath outside St. John’s park, almost opposite the Parramatta Town Hall, near the 2 stone gate posts shown in the Town Hall photo and most shots seen are looking towards the building behind the 1935/37 sedan in the photo put up here for dating. The Monte de Piete sign written 1st floor window is quite clear in both the still photo and the film, and it looks like the One Way sign (for the little street the joined Macquarie and Church Streets behind the fountain) is still on the telegraph post in 1940! Stewards Shoes, a shop that occupied the site beside the Town Hall for many years, is also clearly visible in both film and photo.
    The Honour Guard lining Church Street are boys from the The Kings School cadets.

    August 13, 2010 at 3:48 pm
  • enno says:

    I think about 1950. Look at the cars. They all look like early post-war cars.

    Also look at the womens clothes.

    August 15, 2010 at 11:04 pm
  • enno says:

    On the right of the second photo, Hambugers is written on the shop awning. Unlikely before WW2, I would think.

    If it was late 30’s, at least one of cars around would look pre-1935. None of the cars do.

    The woman in front of the town hall is wearing a coat which looks mid-80’s in style. I have photos of my grandmother wearing a coat like that with big shoulders, 1947.

    I am sticking with my opinion, late 40’s.

    August 15, 2010 at 11:15 pm
  • Jenny says:

    Sorry enno but I can’t see any of the identificable cars as having post-1938 body styles – please suggest what styling features say to you they are early post-war cars.

    One of the cars is definately pre-1935 – the mid-late 1920s rag or canvas top (looks like a Buick ) vehicle dead centre of the second photo.

    Hamburgers – milk bars and stalls selling/advertising hamburgers were it seems not uncommon in Australia in the 1930s – even in Darwin according to the NLA Trove digitised newspapers online.

    August 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm
  • Barry Tait says:

    2nd photo – I cannot date the photo but I can tell you that it is the view from St Johns church gardens looking north down church street..The building on the left is Murray Bros retail store who my mother worked for there in the 1960’s and beyond

    November 5, 2010 at 10:20 am
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Thanks for your comment @Barry Tait. Even if you can’t help with dating the photos your contribution helps us all the same!

    November 8, 2010 at 9:11 am
  • Brett Gray says:

    I can’t date the photos, but the 1930s does seem likely, based on the cars in the second photo. Could be the early 1940s war years, based on the fashions. I have photos of my parents, both of whom worked for Murray Bros in the 1930s to 1950s and the 1940s styles look similar. The car in the Town Hall photo would be late ’30s I think.

    Like Jenny, I have memories of the park from the 1950s and ’60s. It did not change all that much in those years. I worked at Murrays during school holidays in the late 1960s and I would sometimes have my lunch in the park.

    February 15, 2011 at 4:59 pm
  • monty cushway says:

    looking for any photoes of my fathers milk bar at 30 george street parramatta from 1949 to 1960 known as cushways milk bar

    July 1, 2012 at 2:57 pm
  • Fiona Sullivan says:

    Have you tried the Heritage Centre at Parramatta ( )? They may be able to help you with this.

    July 2, 2012 at 10:27 am
  • Neil Roche says:

    Looking for photos of my Grandfathers milk bar.Taits Milk Bar and cafe,Church St Parramatta, was where David Jones are now,close to Lennox Bridge. Also the Surname of the Italians who had the fruit and Veg shop just up the street (Steve and Mary)had 3 kids Tony, Barbara and Teresa. Any help appreciated.

    July 25, 2012 at 10:26 am
  • Anthea Brown says:

    Hi Neil,
    You need to use the State Records ‘Request for Information Form’ for this enquiry (they may be able put you in touch with the relevant organisation for your research).

    August 6, 2012 at 12:57 pm
  • David Murray Brown says:

    Very interesting photo of Murray Brothers store of which my grandfather, G.L. Murray was the Managing director.
    I have magnified the picture and noticed a vertical LOWES sign down Church St on the left. It looks like it has been there for a few years.
    Apparently,”Lowe was the first city retailer to establish a branch at Parramatta, in 1932.” (From Biography – William (Bill) Lowe – Australian Dictionary of Biography,

    August 20, 2012 at 12:09 am
  • Robin says:

    Does anyone remember Goodlands Grocery Store Church St Parramatt opposite Grace Bros (now Westfields). Staff used to cross the road to get their lunches from the sandwich bar. My father was the manager and my mother made the sandwiches.

    March 14, 2013 at 2:03 pm
  • Peter Cartwright says:

    I I was employed partime as a 15 year old at Murray bros in 1969. Mr Ken Quilty was the personnel manager , Mr Bruce Warren Gendle were the furniture and floor coverings sales people and joe berg and Mrs Mitzzi grocery dept. Great place to work. Pete.

    November 15, 2013 at 1:27 pm
  • Liz Delaney says:

    I read this with great interest. I see many of you grew up at the same time as someone I am searching for. I am looking for a possible connection with a family member. All I know is he was one of 6 children in the Parammatta area and was born around 1925. He was blonde with blue eyes. He was a machinistin the late 1940’s and early 1950’s. I also understand that his father was a storekeeper. I know I am clutching at straws but maybe someone can remember and help me find out more.
    Thanking you
    Liz Delaney

    July 18, 2015 at 10:05 pm