Sunday, October 25, 2009

Sydney Oddity

In Foley Park, Glebe, in Sydney, you can find this odd structure. It is a wireless house! I had never heard of such a thing. I saw it mentioned on James O'Brien's blog. Rather than stealing his photo, I have stolen one from the organisation responsible for the wireless house renewal, in the interests of giving them some promotion of course.

Some time not too long after wireless broadcasts started in Australia, Grace Brothers, a department store, donated a wireless for the public to listen to and it was housed in this building at the aforementioned location.

A wireless would have cost a lot of money back in the early twentieth century, so the working class could not have afforded one. Here in Foley Park, they could sit around this building and listen to wireless broadcasts, and sit around they did, to the point where churches complained of declining Sunday church attendances and the wireless house was shut down.

Why are churches always against what people enjoy doing?

Maybe Melbourne had a wireless house, but I don't know about it. I bet Sydney copied the idea from the US.


  1. "Grace Brothers, a department store, donated a wireless for the public to listen to..."

    "FM free..." (spoken in Mr. Humphries' voice, of course.)

  2. What a gorgeous building and wonderful idea!

    2FC was pupped, named and owned) by Farmer & Co dept store in Sydney.

  3. Brian, I don't think there is any connection between the two, although R who once worked at Grace Brothers assures me there were a number of Mr Humphries.

    Jayne, and I am fairly sure went on to become ABC Sydney's Radio National station.

  4. I would love to sit in a park on a picnic blanket on a warm night and listen to sounds from a wireless house. That is so interesting Andrew.
    Yeah, churches do leave a sour taste in my mouth too when they reign on people's happy parade!

  5. Anonymous4:10 pm

    Did you ever have a crystal radio set Andrew? I used to luv laying in bed at night with the alligator clip attached to the window and tune into the radio - no batteries required. Was pure joy for a young boy back then.

  6. Agree Cazzie. It would be very pleasant. The poor would have only had a hessian sack to sit on. But it must have been quite marvellous for them.

  7. I did not Anon. I am far to young to have had a crystal radio set. I had a tranny.