Before Kings Cross, Wynyard was Sydney’s ‘trouble spot’ for drunken behaviour

pub problems wynyard sydney 1947

From left to right: Police interview a man, in blood-spotted clothing, who was involved in a fracas on Wynyard ramp during the week. The man was arrested shortly afterwards. Young girls and Australian sailors chatting outside Wynyard ramp during last week. After dark the ramp is a recognised pick-up centre for Australian servicemen. Police arrest a young Australian sailor after a hotel window has been kicked in on Wynyard ramp. Pictures: The Sydney Sun Sunday 2 March 1947.

pub window smashed wynyard sydney 1947

Plaza Hotel employee, William Farlow, inspecting a smashed plate-glass window. Wine bottles behind the window are dummies. Picture: The Sydney Sun Sunday 2 March 1947.

EIGHTY years before Kings Cross gained a reputation as a trouble spot for drunken behaviour (which lead to the controversial 2014 Sydney lock-out laws*) the streets around Wynyard had earned a similar status.

Police described Wynyard as “one of the most undignified public centres of Sydney” during the war years, and it retained that status into the 1950s.

Wynyard Ramp, leading into the underground railway station, gained the reputation as a pick-up centre for servicemen, and after dark the area was the haunt of “street-women” and “teenage irresponsibles”. The ‘ramp’ was located next to the Plaza Hotel, which was one of the best-selling pubs in NSW at the time. The Plaza Hotel would later (in 1963) become the Menzies Hotel.

To combat disturbances and the prevailing outbreaks of hooliganism in Sydney, police resorted to methods used against The Rocks Pushes (gangs) 50 years earlier. Speedy arrests and dispersal of street-corner groups, some by strong-arm methods, proved effective in dispersing trouble-makers.

Wynyard with its many surrounding pubs became notorious for brawling and disturbances, and was one of the most heavily policed public thoroughfares in the city.

A patrol of four to six policemen were stationed there constantly after a huge brawl in October 1946, when 50 police and provosts attempted to arrest drunken servicemen amid a hostile crowd of 2000.

* THE Sydney lockout laws were introduced by the NSW Government in February 2014 in an effort of reducing alcohol-fuelled violence. The legislation required 1.30am lockouts and 3am last drinks at bars, pubs and clubs in the Sydney CBD entertainment precinct. The precinct, defined in regulations, is bounded by Kings Cross, Darlinghurst, Cockle Bay, The Rocks and Haymarket. While data shows that the lockout laws helped reduce alcohol-related violence, concerns were raised about the impact of the law on Sydney’s night-time economy. In 2016, after a review, the NSW Government announced it would relax the last drinks and lockout laws by half an hour for live entertainment venues in a two-year trial. In September 2019, a NSW Parliamentary committee recommended that the lockout laws should be removed by the end of the year, with the exception of Kings Cross, where restrictions will be retained. On January 14 2020, the NSW Government finally lifted the lockout laws in Sydney’s CBD and Oxford Street.

– With thanks to Wikipedia

For more history of the Plaza Hotel visit the Time Gents’ story:

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