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Bondi Junction’s Boot Factory – The End Of An Era

By Kimberley O'Sullivan on June 18, 2013 in Other

Photo: Waverley Library

Photo: Waverley Library

The Boot Factory in Spring Street, Bondi Junction was built in 1892 by William Sidaway and Son, who had been in the boot production business since 1887 in Cowper Street, Bondi Junction. The factory, a three-storey building, was built well back on land fronting Spring Street.

William Sidaway commenced the production of footwear at the factory soon after the building was completed. For some unknown reason the factory ceased production and was acquired by Mr Fred Cull soon after. This probably occurred in I893. Mr Cull had negotiations with Mr James Bardon, a footwear merchant from Randwick, to run the business from Spring Street. Mr Thomas Bardon, brother of James, began production of high-class footwear under the auspices of George Cull and Sons.

During 1920-21, Thomas Bardon purchased the Boot Factory from Mr Cull and became the sole proprietor. Mr. Bardon died in 1938 and bequeathed the factory to his son, Thomas Charles Bardon. He carried on this flourishing business until he died in 1944 and left the entire factory to his wife and children, as well as the Caddy Family. Mr Jim Caddy worked at the factory for many years, while his brother Herbert was manager until it closed.

The trustees of the Bardon estate authorised alterations to the building, including a general update of the workings of the plant to meet the rise of competition in the industry.

After World War II, the Bardon Boot Factory primarily produced fashion shoes for women. One well-known brand of the time, ‘Sally Smart’, was supplied to David Jones. Taylors Shoe Store of Bondi Junction sold many of the shoes produced at the factory and the tradition of quality footwear continued until it closed in 1969.

The Boot Factory was acquired in 1984 by Waverley Municipal Council, and restorations of the building as part of a bicentennial project took place in 1988. Council has spent more than $640,000 since 1995 as well as the funds spent before this time attempting to preserve the building, but this has only served to slow deterioration.

Given that the factory was built with materials and construction methods reflective of the time, the walls are buckling and rotating, becoming detached from the steel tie rods that were put in place in 2010, water penetration is increasing all the time causing the timber wall column beams which attach to structural floor beams to rot and cement to fall to the ground, and cracking is increasing to the internal face of the second floor level wall above and below the windows. A combination of these structural issues will cause the building to eventually collapse.

As such, the much-loved Boot Factory now looks likely to be demolished after advice from an independent consultant found the building to be structurally unsafe and the cost of carrying out the required repairs to be economically unviable.