The many hundreds of people who visit or pass by the ‘Windsor Home Store’ on the corner of George and Fitzgerald Streets each day have no inkling of the original purpose for which this building was constructed – as the Windsor branch of the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales.
In March 1914 the Government Savings Bank of New South Wales purchased a block of land on the corner of George and Fitzgerald Streets from Mrs. Florence Playfair of Randwick for £400. This bank had established a presence in Windsor by 1871 with the opening of an agency for the bank within the Windsor Post Office.
Opening in June 1919 the Windsor branch of the Government Savings Bank of NSW was constructed at a cost of £5,071. This building (now Windsor Home Store) included a banking chamber and a large shop premises which was made available for lease. The architect was Messrs. Ross and Rowe and the builder, J. G. Taylor.
In December 1931, following the Great Depression, the NSW government transferred the savings bank business of the Government Savings Bank of NSW (established 1871) to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This bank was guaranteed by the Federal Government had been inaugurated by the Commonwealth Bank Act by a Labor Government headed by Andrew Fisher in 1911. The federal government of the day favoured the nationalisation of banking and the Commonwealth Bank served both savings and general banking services.
Following this change, the bank continued to operate from the department store premises with Mr. R. E. Gibson as manager of the branch designated as the Windsor Branch of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. New premises were then constructed on vacant land at 156 George Street, between Kable and Fitzgerald Street. The Art Deco style building opened in April 1936.
The premises were purchased from the Commonwealth Bank by Maurice Pulsford in February 1935 for the sum of £3,500 however the bank continued to operate until relocation further along George Street the following year. Pulsford’s Department Store sold a great variety of merchandise including plants, fabric by the yard, clothing, hardware and manchester.
In 1962 the business and premises were sold to brothers, Hunter and Ross Hordern who were fifth generation descendants of the famous Sydney retailer Anthony Hordern and Sons. The store continued to stock everything from ‘underwear to hardware’ until the Hordern brothers retired in 1998.
Cathy McHardy acknowledges the research provided by Mr. Glenn Howroyd of the Commonwealth Bank Documentation and Archives Centre which was used in the preparation of this article (October 2009).
Former Government Savings Bank of NSW and Hordern Brothers Department Store, George Street, Windsor. Cathy McHardy March 2010.
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