44 Bridge Street, Sydney
The Booth Family is collecting pictures and stories about Booth House and its founder,
F H Booth, to share here. Please keep checking back as the recollections grow.
Mary Harper Carter nee Booth:
Booth Family memories
Some of My Memories of Father and Booth House 44 Bridge St. Sydney - May 2014
My father, Frederick Harper Booth, was born in Yorkshire during 1880 and came to Australia as a child. Father fought for Australia in the Boer War and after he returned from the war he met a lovely young lady, Mary Towt, in Melbourne whom he married in Chicago USA.
FHB (as he was known by many) and Mary had six children. I am the youngest of these and regrettably the only one surviving. I was 17 when father’s new office building at 44 Bridge St Sydney was completed and was present at the building’s opening.
As I remember it apart from FHB and Mother, there was father’s brother James along with other family members, quite a few friends of the family and business associates, and whilst I am not certain I am fairly sure that the Architect and the Builder were also present.
I was very impressed with Father’s new building, it was very light and bright inside with all the big windows which was quite something at the time, but as I recall the most impressive feature for the age was the installation of showers in the Men’s rooms – it was claimed, I believe, that this was the first office building in Sydney to include such a feature.
The building, of course, had a lift installed which I remember riding to the top floor of the building from where we could gain access to the roof to enjoy the wonderful view of Sydney Harbour and across to Manly. Later in life my own children enjoyed the same lift ride and view, sadly the AMP Tower built between Bridge St and the Harbour robbed future generations of that experience. My husband, Ted, worked briefly for F H Booth as an accountant in the building during the late 1950s before we left Sydney to live and to start his own accountancy practice in Tamworth. On a sad note, my brother James died in the Bridge St. offices in December 1954, shortly after returning from the Newcastle Wool Sales; he was just 47 years old.
Mary, now nearly 92, says she thinks it must have been the September school holidays when the building was opened as she remembers attending the opening with her schoolfriend Meg Black. She cant remember if there was an officlal ceremony for the opening but the showers are something she clearly recalls, facilities FHB provided for the wool classers who would be covered in wool grease by the end of their tasks.
She cant remember taking a particular interest in Booth House, like any 17-year-old, but she says the previous home for FHB's business, in nearby Reiby Place (now a concrete canyon) did create a lasting impression, this time for the "ricketty lifts with metal grille doors which clinked and clanged and smelt of wool". She says there were lovely views from the roof and from there, on 19 March 1932, she and her sister Helen, with their father, watched the thousands of people gathered in The Rocks and at Circular Quay for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. They later joined the crowds and walked on the bridge's main deck, though she can't recall if they made it all the way across and back. - Sue Morgan, May 2014