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Kings Cross Chronicles

Stories Behind the Streets

Ah, Kings Cross or, as the locals fondly call it, ‘The Cross’, holds a special place in the heart of Sydney. This iconic spot is not just famous for its colourful nightlife and bustling streets, but it is also rich in stories and history that are woven into its every corner. From the stunning architecture of the Coca-Cola sign that lights up the night sky to the legendary neon lights of Kings Cross Theatre, there is always something to marvel at in this vibrant neighbourhood.


So, let’s delve deep into the past and explore the intriguing history behind some of Kings Cross’s most famous landmarks, from the iconic El Alamein Fountain to the captivating Wayside Chapel. As we meander through the bustling streets, we will uncover the fascinating tales of gangsters, artists, musicians, and actors, all of whom have contributed to the unique cultural tapestry of this neighborhood. So, come along and join us on this unforgettable journey into the rich heritage of the Cross.

The Coca-Cola Sign

You cannot discuss Kings Cross without first discussing the iconic Coca-Cola sign. This radiant beacon has been lighting up the Sydney skyline since 1974 and has become an enduring symbol of the Area’s transformation over the years. Initially, it marked the area’s status as a prestigious refuge for Sydney’s elite. Later, it became a haven for bohemian artists and free spirits. Finally, it evolved into the vibrant hub of Sydney’s unbridled nightlife that we all know and love today.

The El Alamein Fountain

Erected in 1961, the El Alamein Fountain is a stunning artwork that serves as a powerful commemorative tribute. This symbolic dandelion-shaped design represents the courage and sacrifice of the brave soldiers who fought in the Battle of El Alamein during the tumultuous times of World War II. A true masterpiece, this fountain is a beautiful display of the strength and courage of those who fought for our freedom. Its creation was a testament to the human spirit and a reminder of the importance of honour and remembrance.

The Kings Cross Theatre

For theatre enthusiasts, the Kings Cross Theatre is a cultural hotspot. With its grand facade and rich performance history dating back to the 1930s, it remains a cornerstone of Sydney’s artistic soul.

Darlinghurst Road

Walking down Darlinghurst Road feels like flipping through the pages of a richly detailed novel. Artists once rubbed shoulders with writers, sparking creative fires that still burn today. Music halls and grand theatres have given way to chic cafes and bars, each whispering stories over flat whites and evening cocktails1.

Fitzroy Gardens

Fitzroy Gardens isn’t just green space; it’s a green scene. Since the early 20th century, this tranquil oasis has provided a serene escape amidst urbanity. Nannies once paraded their charges here, and today’s Sydneysiders recharge their batteries. The weekly Kings Cross Market adds another layer of charm, showcasing local produce and artisan goods that tell tales of Sydney’s rich and diverse culture1.

The Wayside Chapel

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Since its establishment in the tumultuous decade of 1960s, The Wayside Chapel has been an unwavering beacon of hope and a steadfast pillar of community in the heart of bustling Kings Cross. More than just a traditional place of worship, The Wayside Chapel has emerged as a true sanctuary for countless individuals in need, offering a safe and welcoming space for all who seek refuge in times of turmoil. Through its open doors and open hearts, the chapel has borne witness to the highs and lows of life in Kings Cross, bearing witness to the unique ebb and flow of this vibrant community like no other place can.

As you wander through the streets of Kings Cross, take a moment to reflect on the rich history that is woven into each corner and hidden down every side street. With every step, you step back in time, discovering new stories and unlocking the secrets of a place that has been both a home and a haven for generations. So go ahead, explore with an open heart and an open mind, knowing that the spirit of The Wayside Chapel and all that it represents will always be there to guide you along the way.

Potts-Point-Panache

Potts Point Panache

A Journey Through Time and Design

Potts Point, a suburb of Sydney, is a tapestry woven with the threads of history and modernity. It’s a place where every corner tells a story, and every building reflects a chapter of design that spans over a century. This blog post takes you on a journey through the architectural evolution of Potts Point, showcasing its timeless panache.

The Birth of Elegance

The story of Potts Point began in the early 19th century when it was developed as one of Sydney’s most prestigious residential areas. The suburb quickly became synonymous with elegance and affluence, attracting the city’s elite.

The Art Deco Influence

As the 20th century progressed, Potts Point embraced the Art Deco movement. This was a time of bold experimentation in design, resulting in buildings that were as much a statement of fashion as they were of function.

  • The Chevron: One of the suburb’s most iconic buildings, The Chevron, is a testament to the Art Deco era. Its streamlined façade and geometric patterns delight architecture enthusiasts.
  • Macleay Regis: Another jewel in Potts Point’s crown, Macleay Regis, with its intricate brickwork and classic Art Deco styling, captures the era’s essence.

A Modern Twist

In recent years, Potts Point has seen a renaissance, with contemporary designs seamlessly blending with the suburb’s historic fabric. New developments pay homage to the past while forging a new aesthetic for the future.

  • The Pomeroy: A modern masterpiece, The Pomeroy showcases how contemporary architecture can complement historical styles, adding a fresh layer to the suburb’s design narrative.

The Cultural Tapestry

Potts Point is not just about buildings; it’s about the people and the culture. The suburb is a melting pot of artists, designers, and thinkers contributing to its vibrant atmosphere.

Conclusion

Potts Point is a suburb where history is not just preserved; it’s lived. Walking through its streets, we experience a journey through time and design, where each step reveals a new facet of its panache. It’s a place where the past is cherished, and the future is welcomed with open arms.

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Story of Frank Theeman and Abe Saffron

Frank Theeman and Abe Saffron were two of the most notorious figures in the history of organized crime in Australia. Both men were involved in a range of illegal activities, Abe in drug trafficking, prostitution, and extortion, Frank in corrupting public officials, violently outing tenants in Victoria Street and possibly murder. Both were known for their connections to powerful political and business figures.

Frank Theeman was a post war immigrant. owner of a lingerie company was a wealthy developer and hotel owner who operated in the Kings Cross area of Sydney during the 1960s and 1970s. He was known for his involvement in the Sydney underworld, and was linked to a range of criminal activities, including violence towards tenanted of his properties and corruption.

Abe Saffron, meanwhile, was a notorious crime boss who operated in Sydney during the same period. He was known as the “King of the Cross” and “Mr Sin’ due to his dominance of organised crime in the Kings Cross area. He was involved in a range of criminal activities, including illegal gambling, prostitution, drug trafficking and corrupting public officials.

Both men were also likely linked to the disappearance of anti-development activist Juanita Nielsen in 1975. Nielsen was an outspoken opponent of a proposed high-rise development in Kings Cross, and it is widely believed that her activism made her a target for developer and organized crime bosses, including Theeman and Saffron.

Despite their involvement in a range of illegal activities, both Theeman and Saffron managed to evade justice for many years. It was only in the 1980s and 1990s, after years of investigations and legal battles, that the full extent of their criminal activities began to come to light.

Today, Frank Theeman and Abe Saffron are remembered as two of the most notorious and influential figures in the history of organized crime in Australia. Their legacies serve as a reminder of the dangers of unchecked power and corruption, and the ongoing need for vigilance in the fight against organized crime and injustice.

Who was involved with the disappearance of Juanita Nielsen

Allegations regarding disappearances of Juanita Nielsen and Donald Mackay

It is alleged that Fred Krahe became a criminal for hire after leaving the police force. Investigative journalists David Hickie and Tony Reeves name Krahe as the ringleader/organiser of a gang of “heavies” employed by developer Frank Theeman, who intimidated residents and assaulted protestors during the campaign against Theeman’s high-rise development in Victoria Street, Kings Cross in the early 1970s. In that context, there have been repeated allegations that he was involved in the 1975 disappearance and presumed murder of anti-development campaigner Juanita Nielsen.

There have also been allegations that Krahe was involved in the disappearance and presumed murder of Griffith, New South Wales anti-drugs campaigner Donald Mackay, in 1977, although the allegation about the Mackay killing was made by notorious Melbourne criminal James Frederick Bazley. Bazley is himself widely believed to have been paid to kill Mackay by infamous Griffith Mafia figure and drug dealer Robert Trimbole. Author John Jiggens claims Fred Krahe was responsible for dispensing, through his Fairfax Media newspaper connections, the rumour that Mackay had not been murdered, but instead ran away with a woman who was not his wife. Jiggens is also a strong proponent of the theory that Krahe murdered Mackay with Keith Kelly, and that Bazley was a patsy.

Defenders of Fred Krahe

Krahe’s memory has had some defenders. One of Australia’s prominent crime reporters of the time, Bill Jenkings, described his former source (and coworker at Fairfax Media) as a ‘clever investigator, who left no stone unturned in his quest to solve the most baffling of cases’, but that, ‘unfortunately, Krahe became far more famous for the crimes he was wrongly alleged to have committed himself’. Jenkings also refused to believe allegations about Krahe’s reputed partner in crime Ray “Gunner” Kelly.[15] In a 1981 letter to the editor of The Sydney Morning Herald, Detective Ray Blisset (Queens Police Medal) wrote to express his ‘disgust at the obituary tendered for former Detective Sergeant first Class Frederick Claude Krahe’. He went on to say that during the years he served in the police force he had worked side by side with Krahe, and knew him as a great investigator of crime, and that ‘as a detective he had no peer.’ Blisset showed little regard for the journalists who publicised allegations against Krahe, writing that they should, ‘show respect for all the good he did and not rewrite scandalous rumours to satisfy some salacious minds’.

Lenny McPherson himself, giving testimony in 1983 at the Juanita Neilsen inquest, told the court, ‘I didn’t like Fred Krahe. He arrested me hundreds of times. If I had any information (on him) I would be giving it to you’. It was at this inquest that McPherson strongly denied telling two police officers, one Commonwealth, one New South Wales, that he’d heard that Krahe had murdered Mrs. Nielsen, an allegation that was quoted initially by journalists Barry Ward and Tony Reeves in an article in the National Times.

Lillian Armfield

Trailblazing Australian policewoman

Lillian Armfield was a trailblazing Australian police officer who played a pivotal role in fighting crime in Sydney during the early 20th century. Born in New South Wales in 1884, Armfield was one of the first female police officers in Australia.

Armfield began her career in law enforcement in 1915, when she joined the New South Wales Police Force as a Special Constable. She was not given a uniform, gun or badge. She quickly proved herself to be an effective and dedicated officer, and was soon promoted to the rank of Constable.

As a police officer, Armfield was known for her tireless work ethic and her commitment to fighting crime. She was involved in a range of high-profile cases, including the arrest of notorious criminals like Tilly Devine and Kate Leigh.

Armfield’s greatest contribution to law enforcement was her work in the area of forensic science. She was a pioneer in the field of forensic photography, and was one of the first police officers in Australia to use photography as a tool for crime scene investigation.

Armfield was also instrumental in the establishment of the Criminal Investigation Branch, a specialized unit of the New South Wales Police Force that focused on investigating serious and organized crime.

Despite facing significant challenges and discrimination as a female police officer in a male-dominated profession, Armfield was respected and admired by her colleagues and by the public. She retired from the police force in 1949, after more than three decades of dedicated service.

Today, Lillian Armfield is remembered as a pioneering and trailblazing figure in Australian law enforcement. Her legacy lives on in the many women who have followed in her footsteps, and in the ongoing fight against crime and injustice.

Sidney Kelly

“Squizzy” Taylor The King of Melboure’s Underworld

Joseph Theodore Leslie “Squizzy” Taylor (29 June 1888 – 27 October 1927) was an Australian gangster from Melbourne. He appeared repeatedly and sometimes prominently in Melbourne news media because of suspicions, formal accusations and some convictions related to a 1919 gang war, to his absconding from bail and hiding from the police in 1921–22, and to his involvement in a robbery where a bank manager was murdered in 1923.

Taylor enjoyed a fearsome reputation in 1920s Melbourne. A “spiv“, described as the Australian equivalent of the ‘American bootleggers’, his crimes ranged from pickpocketing, assault and shopbreaking to armed robbery and murder. He also derived income from sly-grog selling, two-up schools, illegal bookmaking, extortion, prostitution and, in his later years, is believed by some to have moved into cocaine dealing.

Fatal gunfight

John “Snowy” Cutmore

Taylor was wounded in a gunfight with a rival gangster, John “Snowy” Cutmore, at a house in Barkly Street, Carlton, and died at St Vincent’s Hospital, Fitzroy, on 27 October 1927. Cutmore, a standover man associated with the Razor Gang of Sydney, was also fatally wounded. Cutmore was an old foe of Taylor’s. The animosity dated back to the Fitzroy Vendetta in 1919 when Cutmore was a member of the rival Fitzroy gang. Well known to the police as a violent criminal, Cutmore had a string of convictions in Victoria and NSW for assault, stealing and resisting arrest. In 1927 Cutmore was living in Sydney, then the scene of a ‘razor gang war’ between opposing factions of the Sydney underworld. Cutmore joined standover man Norman Bruhn, also originally from Melbourne, in a notorious razor gang who stole the illicit gains of their underworld peers, knowing their crimes would never be reported to the police. Bruhn was murdered in the Sydney suburb of Darlinghurst in June 1927.

Barney Dalton

Barney Dalton RIP

Bernard Hugh Dalton (1891 – 9 November 1929) was an Australian pioneer rugby league player In the Australian competition – the New South Wales Rugby League. He was born in 1891 in Sydney.

Rugby league career

winger, Barney Dalton played for the Eastern Suburbs club side in the years (1910–12) and (1914–15) as a Winger. He was a member of Eastern Suburbs first premiership winning side that defeated Glebe in the final of the competition in 1911, and backed up the following season in 1912 as Easts took their second title.

The winger was also a member of the Easts‘ sides that won City Cups in 1914 and 1915. Dalton is recognised as the 43rd player to join the Eastern Suburbs club, playing 61 first grade games and scoring 16 tries.

His brother William Dalton also played with him at Eastern Suburbs.[1]

Criminal career

Barney Dalton became a gangland figure, and was reportedly mixed up with some of Sydney‘s most dangerous criminals in the 1920s. He was a member of Kate Leigh‘s razor gang during the Sydney gang wars that also involved Tilly Devine and Phil Jeffs.

Death

Dalton was shot dead outside the Strand Hotel, on the corner of Crown Street and William Street, East Sydney on 9 November 1929 by notorious criminal Frank Green. He was 38 years of age.

His funeral was held at St Mary’s Cathedral on 12 November 1929, and attended by 200 mourners. He was buried at Botany Catholic Cemetery, now known as Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

Dulcie Markham

The Angel of Death

Early life

Dulcie May Markham was born in the inner city Sydney suburb of Surry Hills on 27 February 1914 to John Markham and Florence Millicent née Parker.

She became one of Australia’s most notorious prostitutes and underworld figures. She became a prostitute when she was 15. and Sydney’s most extravagant gangster’s moll by the time she was 18. She was attracted to, and associated with, many major criminals of the era.

A Life of Crime

On 13 May 1931, in William Street, Sydney, stall keeper Alfred Dillon and 21-year-old gunman Cecil “Scotty” McCormack came to blows over the attentions of Markham and in the resultant melee, Dillon stabbed McCormack to death. She was present at the time. Markham and McCormack were planning to marry.

Her first marriage was to a sideshow worker and small-time mobster Frank Bowen in Brisbane on 4 March 1936. Two months later, aged 21, Markham (as Bowen) was in court accused of falsifying a telegram on behalf of her new husband.

By 1936, Markham was involved with Guido Caletti, another notorious Sydney gunman, the then-husband of Nellie Cameron, another prominent Sydney sex worker of that period. Caletti was shot dead in August 1939 in Sydney at a party he attended with Markham. Reportedly, Markham was grief-stricken at his funeral.

By December 1937, Markham had shifted to Melbourne and now had gunman Arthur Taplin as her pimp and lover. Taplin was subsequently shot dead later that year.

By mid-1940, the 24-year-old ‘prettiest and most notorious woman in the Australian underworld’ was romantically involved with 26-year-old Fred Erick James ‘Paddles’ Anderson, and once divorced, was going to marry him (being still married to Bowen); where she was also nicknamed the ‘Hoodoo Girl’ given of three previous lovers, one had been stabbed, and two shot. In the same year her first husband, Frank Bowen, was shot and killed in Kings Cross.

In 1943, Markham relocated to Queensland‘s Gold Coast to take advantage of the influx of American GIs. When picked up for vagrancy by local police,[5] ‘Pretty Dulcie’ protested that she lived with her current de facto husband, taxi-driver (ames Arthur Williams, and that while he gave her money and groceries, she was not involved in the local sex industry at that time, and was not aware of Williams’ involvement in the sly-grog or bootleg alcohol distribution networks that flouted wartime beer and spirits rationing mandates. She also used the pseudonyms and aliases: “Dulcie Williams”, “Dulcie Bowen”, “Tosca de Marquis”, “Mary Eugene”, and “Tosca de Merene” during that period. In September 1945, her then-boyfriend and leading Melbourne criminal Leslie Walkerden, was shot dead in Richmond, Victoria.

Markham had outlived most of her criminal contemporaries from Sydney’s tempestuous razor gang era. Markham’s funeral was held at St Patrick’s Catholic Church, Bondi and the eulogy was given by Detective Frank “Bumper” Farrell. She was cremated at Eastern Suburbs Memorial Park.

In 2009, Markham was one of the figures from that era featured in an exhibition about that era at Sydney’s Justice and Police Museum, entitled “Femmes Fatales: The Female Criminal.

Norman Bruhn

Norman Bruhn The Upstart

(2 June 1894 – 23 June 1927) was a notorious and violent Australian dockworker, armed robber and standover man with links to the criminal underworld in both Melbourne and Sydney. In September 1926 Bruhn relocated with his family from Melbourne to Sydney, where he attained a brief ascendancy by targeting the underworld vice trade, using violence and intimidation against cocaine traffickers, prostitutes and thieves. Bruhn’s criminal gang used the straight razor as a weapon of terror and are attributed as Australia’s first ‘razor gang‘, at the beginning of a period of gang violence in Sydney in the late-1920s known as the ‘razor gang wars’. His period of domination of the inner-city vice economy was opposed by the more established criminal networks in Sydney. In June 1927 Bruhn was shot twice in the abdomen in an inner-city laneway in Darlinghurst. He died in Sydney Hospital the following morning, refusing to name his assailant.

Bruhn’s life and times were portrayed in the television series on the Nine television network in Australia, Underbelly: Razor.[1]