Civic Hotel, 1979

July 29, 2012

From one of the few rolls of film I can find from my teenage years. I never threw film out but I was not good at storage and organisation and also moved about a bit. This roll wasn’t even sleeved and was covered in dirt. I recently washed and sleeved it but still had to do a bit of cleaning on the scans. The film was Kodak Tri-X 5063, no idea of the developer. In fact I’m not even sure what year the photos were made but 1979 is a good estimate. These were made with my crappy old Praktica super TL at the Civic hotel on Pitt St, Sydney during the punk era. I used to go to a lot of punk pubs around 1978 to 1980. The first main one I went to was the Grand hotel near Central railway station, now demolished. After a while the scene moved to the old Chequers nightclub on Goulburn St and the Civic hotel which was just up the road. I think these photos were taken around the time the punks were starting to drink there.

The photo above makes me laugh a little as it brings back that era and the odd mix of old pub dwelling Aussies confronting the weird youth movement. I like how the elderly woman to the right appears to be looking on with disapproval. I’m not sure if she was a patron or a barmaid on a break. This was decades before pubs were gentrified, they were pretty much glorified public toilets in those days – everything tiled. This photo also gives a sense of the boredom of the scene; if a band wasn’t playing there wasn’t much to do but sit and drink beer, play pool and pinball. No one had much money back then. The block just down the hill from the Civic was interesting in those days. There was a variety of cheap accommodation such as the C.B. hotel (still there but now backpacker accommodation), the Peoples’ Palace (demolished for apartments) and the West End hotel (not sure, perhaps also backpackers.) There was also a big shop that was run by the Russian government and sold goods from the Soviet Union. In the other direction Pitt St had a range of second hand book and record shops such as Ashwood’s and Lawson’s.

I do wish that I had taken more photos in this era, also that I had better technique, a better camera and been more organised. Then I might have an interesting archive of Sydney in the late ’70s and early ’80s. My technique was dreadful back then. This roll is very underexposed and I was pleased to get this much information from the scans. I recall that I used to ruin quite a few rolls by forgetting to depress the rewind button at the end of the roll. I would turn the rewind lever and tear all the sprockets which made it hard to process the film. Looking at photos like the one above I think that I had the potential of a good eye but went about things the wrong way. You can click on the images to view a larger version. You might see yourself – or your dad.


6 Responses to “Civic Hotel, 1979”

  1. kayglass Says:

    That’s Greg Wino!

  2. kayglass Says:

    Nick sleaze Rejex in first photo
    Great bar shot, remember a couple of those faces. Is that The back of Greg Dog’s head , definitely “Wino” in the last shot

    Thanks for posting

    • whystoptime Says:

      Greg Dog rings a bell. Also, looking at the wide bar shot I think a guy at the far right was known as John Germ. In the third photo, the tilted one, you can just see the back of the head of a woman with long blonde hair. She used to carry a rose and always wore a white blouse. I don’t remember her name but she was around a lot. On that roll I also have a photo of Louis Tillett who was a friend back then. Wino I don’t remember at all, but I must have known him.

  3. kayglass Says:

    Wino’s name was Greg

  4. kayglass Says:

    The older bird at the back of the bar is Meg, the publican, although I remember her with brown hair. She was a gem.
    The bar isn’t like that anymore it’s half the size, sad really I think it was one of, if not the largest tiled bar in Australia

  5. […] Stop Time? The Civic as a Punk Palace The blog Why Stop Time is a good source for the Old […]

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