When we think of Leichhardt and Balmain the Italians seem to jump to mind immedietaly for their rich contribution to the local area through fruit shops, cafes and fishing..now we shift our focus slightly and look down the lense of local history at the Greeks in Balmain. Unilever was once a large employer of migrant labour particularly Greek, many fish and chip shops, milk bars and hamburger shops along Darling Street between 1960s -1980s were operated by Greek, Macedonian Greek, Greek Cypriot or Egyption Greek origin.
Three was a Greek Club operating in the terrace hous eat 408 Darling Street. Painted Green and with a sign “GREEK CLUB” was nailed in individual reflective red lettering over the door. The Club began in the 1950s and operated for about 10years, there were also two other Greek Clubs ner the Rozelle Juction. Such clubs were male-only bastions. In the late 1950s and 1960s, an after hours Greek Language schoolwas conducted in the former Presbyterian Church hall by Mrs Pavlou.
Greek and Cypriot immigrants were rarely educated and many arrived with only the clothes on their back and a change of clothes in their suitcase. Whilst some were able to purchse their own businesses, the lot for many was exploitative menial work. Most Greek workers took in lodgers. Greek immigrants were huge purchasers of merchandiser sold at street stall and jumble sale fund raisers that local churches ran in the mid-1960s.
If you have any memories or pictures to share of the Greek club or Greeks in Rozelle and Balmain we would love to hear from you.
Rozelle had lots of Greeks after WW2. I have seen a “4 Corners” documentary about Rozelle Public School in the Leichhardt Library History collection that shows footage of Greek families and Greek shops in Darling Street, Rozelle. I am told many Darling Street shopfronts are still owned by Greeks and rented out. And at the same time, I remember listening to an interview with a Greek woman that is in the Leichhardt Library history collection where she talks about the Greeks in Rozelle. I can’t remember her name.
Hi Reina thank you for your comments I will have dig out the 4 corners documentary and oral history you have referred to and share it here on the blog…The more stories told about the local area and the community that have shaped it the better.
I found it but the audio has gone 🙁 It is an interview with Mrs Katherine Stavrou interviewer Bruce Carter http://transformingthelocal.net.au/stories-transforming-the-local.php