AWA in Chippendale

I’ve always been fascinated by the vibrant early history of the radio industry in Australia and in my hometown, Sydney. I was browsing through some early photos on Flickr in the ABC’s Radio History series and I noticed this photo from 1922.

Transmission mast on the roof of AWA’s factory, Knox St Chippendale, Sydney, 1922. From a hessian bag draped studio on the top floor of this building, by means of this mast, AWA engineers Joe Reed and AF Vipan made experimental transmissions to the old AWA building at 97 Clarence St, June – Sept 1922 (original ABC caption).

I’ve been aware of so many sites of early radio manufacturers disappearing – including AWA’s gigantic campus at Ashfield – and ones closer to where I live in the inner west of the city. I didn’t realise AWA had a factory in Chippendale, or that it would be so close to a corner I travel through twice a day! But I suspected this was still there and it was – at least in 2016 when this Google Streetview image was snapped.
AWA’s Chippendale factory almost a century on.

There’s been quite a lot of development in this part of the very inner city and it’s now a choice place to live. It’s also a few steps from the newly refurbished Lansdowne Hotel.
I was also surprised by what I saw in the old photograph. It looks like the crane hook cable is dangling across the electric power line. It looks like the crane operator has just noticed it as the photo was being taken, or maybe it was because of having to pose for the photo that the cable is where it is. In any case, the test transmissions led to the beginnings of regular radio broadcasting in the city in 1923.

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