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Lost Icons of Adelaide

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by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published August 16th 2014
The things we miss around South Australia
Lost Icons of Adelaide

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Vintage Advertising Signs in South Australia


In less than two hundred years of European settlement, South Australia has grown from a small colony of reed and mud houses at Holdfast Bay to a thriving metropolis of 1.7 million people.

Through pure hard work coupled with fertile farmland and a multitude of minerals, we have prospered in times of great social and technological change. Along the way our tastes and habits have changed, and we have moulded our environment to suit our developing tastes.

In retrospect, we regret the passing of some of the everyday things of days gone by. Let's take a look and see what's gone - and feel free to add to my list!

Lost Buildings in Adelaide

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The Exhibition Building North Terrace Adelaide in 1920 (Courtesy State Library SA B56025/5)


Exhibition Building
The Exhibition Building in Adelaide was a spectacularly grand place built to house the Jubilee Exhibition celebrating South Australia's fiftieth birthday in 1887. The three storey Exhibition Building was designed as a result of a competition, occupied an acre of land on North Terrace and was crowned with a large dome - one of only two domed buildings constructed in Adelaide in a hundred years.

Nearly 800,000 people visited the Exhibition Building during the Jubilee, but by the 1950's the Exhibition Building had become derelict. It was demolished in 1962 to make way for the Napier Building at the University of Adelaide, becoming one of the largest lost icons of Adelaide.

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The Grand Central Hotel from Rundle St in 1911 (Courtesy State Library SA B5809)


Grand Central Hotel
The Grand Central Hotel regularly features in the Adelaide Remember When nostalgia group on Facebook. Located on the corner of Pulteney and Rundle Streets in Adelaide, the Grand Central Hotel was built in 1910 but became a department store only 15 years later. It was later home to the Electricity Trust of South Australia before being demolished by the State government.

It was replaced by possibly the ugliest car park imaginable, which the Adelaide City Council has valiantly struggled to disguise with a giant colourful display.

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City Baths Adelaide in 1969 (Courtesy State Library SA B19368)


City Baths
Many people also fondly remember the City Baths on King William Road. Originally built in 1882, they were the perfect place for a dip when few houses had bathrooms. The State Library has this video of water ballet filmed there in 1938.

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City Baths Adelaide 1878 Price List


After renovations in 1939, Adelaide's City Baths even made it on to the Pathe News at the picture theatre in 1940. They were demolished in the 1970's to make way for the Festival Centre. Many families regretted their passing, becoming another of the lost icons of Adelaide.

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The Former Colonel Light Gardens Picture Theatre is Now a Pharmacy


Picture Theatres in Adelaide
Before the introduction of television most people in South Australia went to picture theatres to watch a movie. There were many grand imposing cinemas in Adelaide, lavishly furnished to make patrons feel that their night was very special. Most of these have now been demolished, although you can find images of some picture theatres here. A more complete list of cinemas without photos is here.

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Babbage's Castle St Mary's 1903 (Courtesy State Library SA B7591)


Babbage's Castle
Even the suburbs south of Adelaide have their lost icons. Long before the farms of the area were swallowed by the industries of Tonsley, the area was the home to South Australia's first concrete castle. Sadly this heritage building in Adelaide did not survive to see this century.

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Colac Hotel Port Adelaide - One of a Dying Breed?


Hotels in Adelaide
While some people insist on calling Adelaide the city of churches, it could more sensibly be called the city of pubs until the 1970's. As far back as 1926, people were dismayed at the shrinking numbers of hotels in Adelaide. But it seems that the pace accelerated from the 1970's with the loss of the opulent South Australian Hotel on North Terrace.

The demolition of the Aurora Hotel in 1983 was a catalyst for the formation of the Aurora Heritage Action Group in Adelaide. It was a landmark time in South Australian heritage politics.

Luckily there are still ways to see how Adelaide looked in days gone by, thanks to some new smart phone apps.

Lost Things to Do in Adelaide

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Luna Park Adelaide Was at Glenelg (Courtesy State Library SA B12707)


Perhaps one of the first lost icons of Adelaide was Luna Park at Glenelg. After opening in 1930 it lasted only five years before packing up for Sydney. Not unlike our Grand Prix which was lost to Melbourne.

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Play Equipment in a Derelict Theme Park


The 1980's saw the end of some very popular events, leaving us with just memories of these lost icons of Adelaide. The Milk Carton Regatta and the Birdman Rally pulled big crowds every year until they faded away.

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Puzzle Park is Now Just a Derelict Theme Park


Puzzle Park is now just a derelict theme park, while you can still see traces of Dazzleland if you look to the ceiling in the Myer Centre atrium.

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Fork On the Road at Tasting Australia. Will it Become Another of the Lost Icons of Adelaide?


Despite being a huge success over the last two years, there are fears that Fork on the Road food truck festival may go the same way as the Magic Mountain if their current Pozible funding campaign is not successful.

Forgotten Places

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Forgotten Suburb Names in Adelaide


Swansea, Austral Brindisi, and Portsmouth were all suburbs in Adelaide's west until the 1950's when the names were phased out.

Chain of Ponds didn't just lose its name - it was completely demolished in the 1970's to avoid water pollution of a nearby reservoir. But Farina which is still called a ghost town by Wikipedia, is now being slowly resurrected.

Who knows what the future will hold for Fort Largs, which is at risk of being sold to a developer. Perhaps it will disappear without trace like Fort Malta?

Other Lost Icons of Adelaide

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Former Pie Cart, Adelaide Railway Station


Amscol ice cream, Hall's soft drinks, and the pie carts are just some of the lost food icons in Adelaide.

George Tinline is one of South Australia's forgotten heroes - he was credited with saving the state from bankruptcy before he retired to Arthur's Seat, but more people would remember Don Dunstan's pink shorts now.

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Premier John Bannon at the MFP Site (Courtesy Adelaide Now)


Finally, the MATS Plan was once going to change the face of Adelaide with a mind boggling farrago of freeways, but never delivered its vision - luckily for Bowden and Brompton. And it seems the main problem with our planned Multi Function Polis was that nobody understood what it was. Just as well they didn't build it then!

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Why? Remeber the lost icons of Adelaide
Where: Adelaide, SA
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Didn't we also have the Most Beautiful Cricket Ground in the World once? Oh, well...
by nickt (score: 0|7) 948 days ago
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