representing Officers and families of

The Commercial Banking Company of Sydney Limited

and its subsidiaries & affiliates.

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Banks of Yesteryear


Societe Generale,
350 George Street



Now offices.
2017 Visitors can view the lightwell/stairwell in the foyer.

Cnr George and Hunter Sts



Previously St George Bank;
American Express

2017 convenience store
National Bank of Australasia Limited,
State Office
348 George Street

Now various shops and offices.
Cnr Pitt St and Rowe St


The old Bankers' Club was in Rowe Street

2017 Vault now 1821 wine bar
Bank of New South Wales Limited,
228 Pitt Street



2015 currently Allens Music store.  Photos by John Ness

Although built over, the skylight was protected.








2018 December 3 photos of the vestibule floor and ceiling by John Ness.   Now a fashion store.

Bank of NSW

377 George Street


2017 now McDonalds
Interior as McDonalds.  Photos by John Ness
Bank of NSW
Cnr Pitt & Hunter Streets


2018 December Archive photo on a building hoarding.
Bank of Australasia Limited

Cnr George Street & Martin Place


Was St. George Building Society,


2015 Now Paspaley pearls.  Photos by John Ness
Bank of New Zealand
339 George Street


Demolished to make way for offices with wine bar at street level.

2016 November Soon to become nab 333 George Street, Sydney


Cnr Martin Plaza & Pitt St

This is the building featured on the famous Commonwealth Bank tin money box.

The Sydney Magazine article:
Is this the safest spot in Sydney? Dugald Jellie opens the vault on the city's secrets.

Photography Tamara Dean

It's a safe-cracker's worst nightmare. Bank-heist men wouldn't stand a chance against this circular vault door, a 27-tonne steel plug blocking off a stronghold of untold riches and private documents. Gold bars. Diamond jewellery. Banknotes. Confidential papers ...

The safe deposit vault in the basement of the Commonwealth Bank's national head office in Martin Place adds extra fortification to the word "safekeeping". The vault door, which swings open at 8.20am and closes at 4.15pm each working day, is the world's second largest 64 centimetres thick, 2.2 metres in diameter and with a retractable floor and 24 bolts that lock away the confidential affairs stowed in the 12,985 steel boxes within.

It's a time-honoured banking tradition to hire out safe depositories and turn a blind eye to how they're used. "We're not aware of what's in the boxes; we don't check what's in them," says Michael Paul, the bank's safe deposit officer and keeper of the keys required to assist in opening each shoebox-size safe. Dressed in black, he has the mien of an undertaker or doorman at a members-only gathering. "Customers have utmost privacy in the room. Unless I'm walking in with another customer and they have their valuables on the table, I never see what's in the box."

The bank the former Government Savings Bank of NSW opened in 1928 to great fanfare. Here was the future of banking: a beaux-arts revivalist colossus of fluted columns, polished marble and brass railings, and with a bank-vault door like few others entombed among barrel domes and decorative ceilings in the lower basement.

Made in London by Chubb & Sons, the English lock and safe company, the door is eclipsed in size only by a 42-tonne plug in Ohio, at the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland. This one arrived in Sydney after being exhibited at the 1927 Wembley Exhibition as an engineering marvel; cast from slabs of ferrous-based metals with four time-delay locks and considered near impervious to a safe-breaker's drills and blow torches or dynamite. From the docks, it was hauled on wagons drawn by teams of 18 draught horses.

The vault is now open to customers who hire private safes (rental rates start at $100 per annum, plus fees) and present an authorised access slip to the attendant standing watch behind a locked wrought-iron grille. "It's my job to serve them as quickly and as quietly as possible," says Paul.

It's a room of flat fluorescent light, where discretion is assured among rows of polished steel cabinets, all criss-crossed with rows of little locked boxes, each with two keyholes and identified by four digits. "Boxes can only be opened by turning the guardian key and the customer key at the same time," says Paul. "I turn my master key anti-clockwise, they turn theirs clockwise."

But fine print on the bank's terms and conditions stipulates that deposit safes can also be opened if authorised by law or by the bank on the termination of the hiring agreement. The bank asks no questions about what's in a box but nor does it hold liability for any loss or damage of their unknown contents.

More than 315,000 tin-plated moneybox replicas of the building with penny slots in the roof were given to newborns in 1929, as a sales ploy to "assist parents and guardians to teach the children of Australia that essential lesson, Thrift". The tins remain the nation's most recognised moneybox, although they give no indication of what lies beneath.

Union Bank
244 King Street, Newtown



2015 June For Sale
Union Bank, Orange



2015 the 1854 Building is now Belgravia with Union Bank Bar beside it.
AJS Bank, Gordon



2024 January colour photos of AJS Bank, Grandview,  Pacific Highway left of ex-Catholic church Gordon by John Ness

CBA Centre,
George Street

CBA Centre

2017 now Met Centre. Photos by John Ness


Last modified: 24/01/2024


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