Raising the bar, by Ben Pike

Posted on Thursday, 20 July 2017

In case you missed it, City Tattersalls Club Chairman Patrick Campion was interviewed by the Sunday Telegraph about your Club’s glorious past … and revealed why the future is going to be bright. Here, we are delighted to bring you the full text for your enjoyment.

This article appeared in the Sunday Telegraph on the 17th July 2017.

CTC Chairman Patrick Campion takes a stroll through Lower Bar. Photo : Tim Hunter.

Raising the bar, by Ben Pike.
THIS is the legendary Sydney bar so rich in yarns, characters and history that it threatened to call last drinks on a $200 million redevelopment.
But now these fantastic memories will be preserved after engineers came up with a way to effectively wrap the art deco bar in cotton wool while they plonk a 168m-high tower on top.
The City Tattersalls Club’s Lower Bar enjoyed a membership that included Dennis Lillee, Gough Whitlam, Robbie Waterhouse, Dawn Fraser and Abe Saffron and was a regular hangout of old-style bookmakers.
But times change and the 122-year-old club wants to use its Pitt St site to build a 100-room hotel along with 267 new apartments, a retail space, car parking and a registered club.
However, the Land and Environment Court told the club on May 30 that it cannot pull apart and rebuild their historic Lower Bar, which was built in 1924.
While the club would not reveal how it will preserve the bar, UNSW senior lecturer Dr Philip Oldfield said there are a few options.
“In Mexico they put a two-storey building on rails and moved it 18m in order to construct the building above,” the architecture expert said.
A more likely option is a “transfer truss”, which will take the weight of the tower and protect the bar below.
Racing identity and club member Robbie Waterhouse remembers going to the bar with his father Bill, the country’s biggest bookmaker at the time.
“It was a real rousing meeting place, with its primary function being where bookmakers would settle their bets on a Monday,” Mr Waterhouse said.
“There might be 150 bookmakers there in the bar at any one time.”
Before online betting, bookmakers were the primary way punters could place a bet on horses. As a result, a lot of cash went through the CTC.
That cash was kept at the club inside a giant safe, which contains hundreds of safety deposit boxes. Many of those boxes — a treasure trove of the city’s history — have not been opened in 80 years.
“We (father Bill and I) used to use a safety deposit box on the far corner of the bar,” Mr Waterhouse, who is a member of the club, said.
“Around 1958 there was a group of bookmakers who went for a swim at Red Leaf Pool in Double Bay. Robbers made impressions of their keys and then robbed 30-40 safety deposit boxes.”
CTC chairman Patrick Campion said the new development should allow the club to change its business model and lessen its reliance on gaming.
“The new development will guarantee the club’s long-term future and help us expand our membership base,” he said.
“It will provide members with exciting new facilities and services.
“The (court) decision did not comment unfavourably on the proposed height or size of the development.”
CTC started off as a men-only club, much like the Tattersall’s club located on nearby Elizabeth St.
While the Tattersall’s club waited until 2014 to let women in, Mr Campion said his club was always forward-thinking.
“In the 1960s we made the smart choice of letting women in and women have become our best members,” Mr Campion said.
“It makes it a very social club rather than just an exclusive men’s club. We have 16,000 members but over half would be women.”