Jude Paul, Bulletin 6/2022, August 2022

Using information available in the Sands Postal Directory 1922 (Suburbs/Trades and Professions) and Trove.nla.gov, the following is a snapshot of business activity on Glebe Point Rd 100 years ago – in 1922:

Trade or Profession








Fruit Shops






Real Estate Agents






Furniture Dealers


Second-Hand Dealers


Butchers/Ham and Beef Shops


Boot and Shoe Repairs, Shoe sales




There were also two or more of each of the following: newsagencies, dentists, doctors, wine retailers, tobacconists, printers, banks, laundries, hospitals, produce merchants and bakers. There was a picture framer, a ‘moving picture theatre’, a cabinet maker, a fish shop, a flour mill, a bookseller, a saddle maker, an ironmonger, a poultry dealer, a bird dealer, a milliner, a post office, a pianoforte importer and a garage. Madame Ethel Peer held spiritual meetings at 12 Glebe Point Rd. Like several other small business activities, this was conducted from a private home, but most businesses operated from a shopfront.

There was one identifiable café – the Post Office Café at 175 Glebe Point Rd. It was managed by Miss Amelia Keppie, a member of a large Mudgee family who had moved to the city in the 1890s. It is unknown if the two hotels on Glebe Point Rd in 1922 (The Ancient Briton and The Currency Lass on the corner of Mitchell St and Glebe Point Rd) sold the three penny (3 cents) counter lunches, the common hotel fare of these times.

Some businesses continued for many decades through several generations of one family. By 1922, Christian and Margaret Raith’s Bishopthorpe Bakery at 62 Glebe Point Rd was well established and continued as a bakery in the hands of two Raith sons into the 1950s, well after Christian Snr’s death in 1938. (Since then, the building has been a garage, the Architectural Heritage shop and an art space. It is currently empty, with a DA to turn it into a boarding house).

A Raith daughter, Isabella, married Norman MacQueen. Like his father William before him, Norman was a dentist. They both practised in the front room of 134 Glebe Point Rd (now Becketts). Norman continued this practice for many years following his father’s death in 1928 when he was hit by a motorcycle.

One hundred years on, we have a very well-known example – the Galluzzo family at 187 Glebe Point Rd, now in its third generation at the site. In 1922 this was a fruit shop owned by the Dalbora family and is one of the few locations that continue to operate in the same business field. Another example is the Different Drummer next door to Galluzzo’s. In 1922 it was licensed to sell wine.

At 75 Glebe Point Rd (now Thai Massage), Glebe had a specialised fish shop thanks to a NSW Government Initiative to ensure that cheap fish was within reach of every citizen. By 1922, there were a number of government-run fish shops across the state, competing with private providers. The Glebe shop, established during World War 1, was the No.5 State Fish Depot.

Misadventures for these businesses seem to have been rare. Thieves blew open the safe at the Ironmongers at 108 Glebe Point Rd and stole between £30 ($60) and £40 ($80). There was a fire in William Birrell’s confectionery shop at 45 Glebe Point Rd. Fred Perry, Hairdresser and Tobacconist at 155 Glebe Point Rd, was charged with using his premises as a betting place.

The Freestons were charged with using underweight scales in their grocery store at 405 Glebe Point Rd. But another local shop demonstrated quite the opposite. In July 1922, investigators for the Sunday Times visited a number of butcher shops across Sydney, always ordering 2lbs (0.9kg) of gravy beef. The packages were then taken to the Sydney Weights and Measures Department for official weighing. The report of this investigation noted that, in the main, correct standard weights had been received by the purchasers, with only a small number of short-weight packages. However, the package from the Carlton Butchery at 142 Glebe Point Rd was awarded the most generous. It weighed 2lbs 7ounces (1.1kg), the quality of the meat was judged to be ‘good’, and the price of 3d. a pound was reasonable (Sunday Times 30 July 1922).

In 1922, Norman MacQueen (the dentist at 134 Glebe Point Rd) and Bert Lewis (a printer at 71 Glebe Point Rd) were both Aldermen on the City of Sydney Council.

Norman MacQueen, Glebe alderman from 1922-1925 (Image: City of Sydney Archives
Bert Lewis, Glebe alderman 1920-1925 (City of Sydney Archives)

Glebe Point Rd in 2022

Nearly half of the 130+ commercial premises I could identify today are either vacant or operating as cafés or restaurants. Many vacant shops had become cafés or restaurants before their latest closure.

This shift to eateries is not new and by no means exclusive to Glebe. At a Glebe Society talk in 2010, food critic John Newtown reported that the number of restaurants in Glebe/Forest Lodge overall had grown from seven in 1976 to 50 by 2001 (Bulletin, Issue No.2 2010). Of all the restaurants mentioned in John’s talk, only three remain today – The Glebe Point Diner, Nazdrowje Polish Restaurant and Nawaz Flavour of India.

The comfort of mall shopping is familiar to us all – oblivious to the heat, the icy wind or the rain outside, plus the big adventure of trying to find your car afterwards. Likewise, there is the convenience of not leaving home to shop at all. No personal hygiene issues, no thought whatsoever for what you’ll wear and no lost car.

However, I think most of us still enjoy a stroll on the high street, whether to buy necessities or just window shop. This is often the pleasure of walking in foreign cities. The key prerequisite for this to be enjoyable is shops loosely grouped together selling things we want to buy or like to look at. Sadly, our high street shops have lost diversity and uniqueness.

‘Women’s and Matron’s Boots for every need’. John Hunter & Son Ltd 1926 catalogue (Source: National Library of Australia, http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-265262103)

My interest in this question was piqued by a new shop at 85 Glebe Point Rd. The shop sells Japanese cooking knives and small, mostly ceramic, homewares. I was struck by how much this shop deviated from the new ‘normal’ and wondered what was sold there 100 years ago. In 1922, the occupant of 85-87 Glebe Point Rd was Hunter J & Son Ltd. This company sold very fashionable men’s, women’s and children’s shoes and had more than 70 branches throughout NSW. Their main shop, the City Boot Palace, was on the corner of George and Market St Sydney.