Penrith City Library and Commonwealth Bank St Marys Branch

Penrith City Council Logo

In the 1960s this location was home to many businesses such as Automotive Spare Parts and Philips and Thomas pushbike and motorbike sales and service.

Commonwealth Bank

Download the Commonwealth Bank poster (pdf 285kb)

In 1976 a new bank building – Commonwealth Bank, St Marys Branch was built on this address (207-209 Queen Street) before becoming Penrith City Library St Marys Branch and Council’s Service Centre in 1998.

St Marys Library Commonwealth Bank

Location of Automotive Spare Parts, G.R.S. Engineering Pty.Ltd. local newspaper advertisement from 1964
Source: St Marys Times

Penrith City Library St Marys Branch and the St Marys Commonwealth Bank

The Penrith City Library, St Marys Branch is located on the original grant of Mary Putland O’Connell called “Frogmore”. Mary’s family received the grant before 1840 and her son did stay on the property with his wife. Initially there was little development.

By the 1960s the site was recorded to be hosting many businesses including Automotive Spare Parts, G.R.S. Engineering Pty.Ltd. and Philips and Thomas pushbike and motorbike sales and service.

In January 1976 a new bank building – Commonwealth Bank, St Marys Branch was being built at this location. The property was bought from Phillips & Thomas in September 1976 and the bank continued on this location until 1996. 

After being vacant, in 1997 Penrith Council bought the building for $1 million with a new library giving the St Marys’ economy a boost and providing access to Council and community services.  Its official opening was on 12 December 1998 by Penrith City Mayor Councillor John Bateman.

The first Bank branch at St Marys

The first Bank branch at St Marys opened in May 1947, located on land beside the telephone exchange and St Marys’ post office on the highway and rented from the Presbyterian Church for £1 per week. The bank found an unused transportable building at a mine site near Lithgow and transported it over the mountains and re-erected it on brick foundations on the church land. The building cost £1,500 and had a staff of three. Later the bank purchased land from Mrs Tait on the corner of Queen St & Carson’s Lane for £2,500 and built the bank in 1958 for £14,660.18.8d where they remained for 18 years. 

The bank felt they needed a representation at the other end of Queen Street so a property on the corner of Queen and Belar Streets was acquired for £16,500 and subdivided in half which was sold.  In 1976 the bank moved from the Carson Lane premises and sold the building to Penrith Council for $100,000 for the widening of the laneway and provide access to Council services in St Marys until 1994 when it moved. 

The bank originally purchased the new property from Phillips & Thomas for $103,500.  The new bank was built by B H Coleman & Fairburn at a cost of $905,035. 

 First Commonwealth Bank in St Marys

First Commonwealth Bank in St Marys was beside side the Telephone Exchange building and St Marys Post Office building (pictured above) on the Great Western Highway. Today Aldi Store building occupies the site. Unknown photographer, date and source

Nepean Times
29th May 1947
St Marys Branch of the CBA

The opening of the new St Marys branch of the Commonwealth Bank marks another step forward in the development of this progressive community.  The branch is situated on the Western Highway next to the Post Office, and will be under the management of Mr. Augustine McLaughlin who has had experience in every phase of the banks activities. 

All types of savings bank and general bank business will be conducted at the new Branch including the granting of overdrafts and the financing of new homes.  Later the bank purchased land from Mrs Tait on the corner of Queen St & Carson’s Lane for £2,500 and built the bank in 1958 for £14,660.18.8d where they remained for 18 years.  The bank felt they needed a representation at the other end of Queen Street so a property on the corner of Queen and Belar Streets was acquired for £16,500 and subdivided in half which was sold.

Nepean Times
1 February 1962
MR. DAVID TRIST APPOINTED BANK MANAGER

Formerly accountant at Penrith branch of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation, Mr. D. Trist has been appointed manager of the bank's South Wagga branch. He will take up the position in approximately two months’ time. Aged 36, Mr. Trist received his appointment on Monday of last week. Before his recent transfer to the Auburn branch, as accountant, Mr. Trist was accountant at Penrith for two years. He had also been, located at Penrith and St. Marys for three years following World War II.  During his stay in Penrith, Mr. Trist became actively interested in the affairs of Penrith R.S.L. He is auditor of the sub-branch and club, far western metropolitan district council (to which he is also a Penrith delegate) and N.S.W. R.S.L. bowls council. 

LEGACY OFFICER - As assistant secretary of Penrith-St. Marys Legacy contact group, Mr. Trist has been prominent in the organisation of the group's charter night to be held on February 24.  His work in civic organisations includes the duties of auditor for Nepean Spastic Council.  Mr. Trist has also served at the Hay, Bowral and Lockhart branches of the Commonwealth Banking Corporation. At South Wagga he will be in charge of a staff of six. Married to former St. Marys girl, Betty Cobcroft, they have three children.

Penrith City Library St Marys Branch

Former site of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, St Marys Branch becomes Penrith City Library, St Marys Branch and Penrith Council Services

Photograph by Lyn Ford, taken in 2017

Former site of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia

In January 1976 a new bank building – Commonwealth Bank, St Marys Branch was being built on this location. The previous property was bought from Phillips & Thomas in September 1976 and bank continued on this location until 1996. 

After a year of vacancy, in 1997 Penrith Council bought the building for $1 million for the new library giving the St Marys’ economy a boost and providing access to Council and Community services.

The first library in St Marys

St Marys Library originally opened in November 1949 in the old electricity building on Mamre Road. The official opening performed by Mr G R C Remington, Deputy Chairman of the Library Board that took place in the open air in front of the building. The Mayor Alderman Tornaras presided.

The library moved after that into the Baby Health Centre that was originally the St Marys’ Municipal Council Chambers. In 1957 the Mayor and Alderman McCalman from Penrith Council and Librarian Miss J Pearson were asked to inspect the library accommodation at St Marys and report back.  It was agreed that the existing building should be extended by 15 feet in an easterly direction and it would be necessary to remove the strong room used by the old St Marys’ Council. The Mayor suggested the extension could provide ample accommodation for the next five years and allowed an expenditure of £500. 

In 1964, Penrith Council submitted a tender for alterations to the library won by Alex Gall Constructions Pty Ltd from Mortlake at £5,500. The architect Mr E N Skerratt designed additional wings on the north and south sides of the building.  The north side to being eight feet six inches wide would mean that wall would be right against the fire station and to complete this, Council had repeatedly tried to move the fire station from this site. The southern wall towards the Memorial Hall would extend the frontage by 16 ft.  Interior walls were being demolished to make way for more open spaces and the frontage of the building would have one more front window on the northern side and two more on the southern side of the extensions. 

The library was officially opened in April 1965 by the Director General of Education Dr. H S Windham with an outlay of 6,000 books. This remained the library until premises were built on the corner of Mamre Road and the Highway alongside the Senior Citizens Centre.  In January 1976 a new bank building was being built on land in Queen Street bought from Phillips & Thomas September 1976 and continued there until 1996. 

After a year of vacancy, in 1997 Penrith Council bought the building for $1 million for the new library giving the St Marys’ economy a boost and providing access to Council and Community services.  Its official opening was on the 12th December 1998 by Penrith Mayor Councillor John Bateman.

St Marys Library Old St Marys Municipal Council Building

St Marys Library in the old St Marys Municipal Council Building
Unknown photographer
Estimated taken in 1950s
Source: Penrith Library Photographic Collection (Penrith in Pictures)

Interview with David Trist

Video Transcript

My name is David Trist.

I was the Senior Manager of the Commonwealth Bank St Marys for nearly twenty years. I retired from the bank in 1985. Since then I have been working on my own account as a financial consultant and a Director of a number of local companies.

I served in World War II in an AIF infantry battalion in the South Pacific.

I re-joined the Commonwealth Bank after three years in the AIF.

I was transferred to St Marys in 1947, where three of us started a new branch of the Commonwealth Bank situated at the Great Western Highway where Aldi has its shop. We rented land from the Methodist Church for one pound per week. Building materials were in very short supply so we purchased building from a mine site near Lithgow, trucked it over the mountains and put it on stumps beside old St Marys Post Office and the St Marys Telephone Exchange building.

We had no computers or adding machines. There was only one typewriter and the manager, Augustine McLoughlin, kept in his office, to guard it from being used by the junior, who could not type very well.

Many of our bank branches had gold scales foe weighing gold dust and nuggets. Prospectors would be paid about the half of estimated value of gold. We would then send the material to be assayed and pay the balance of the value to the prospector.

No ball point pens – we used steel nibs and pens, ink and blotting paper.

No adding machines so mental arithmetic had to be very quick and accurate.

In the decades after World War ll, mechanisation of the accounting and cash handling procedures was gradually introduced.

Computerised accounting speeded up accounting processes but reduced costumers contact.

Over the next few decades after 1947, the bank branch moved twice to new premises in Queen Street and also built premises for a sub-branch on the corner of Queen and Belar Streets.

In the late 1970’s the sub-branch was selected as the site for one of the first ATM machines. The ATM machines had two cartridges – for ten dollar and twenty dollar notes. The cartridges had to be placed in their correct positions.

However, early one morning, I received a telephone call – “Comer to the sub-branch quickly. People are queued up and they are being paid twenty dollars for ten dollars withdrawal’.

Our staff obviously had more an error in placing the note cartridges. However, most people are honest and over the next few weeks, we were able to adjust the overpayments.

The Commonwealth Bank, after World War ll, was aggressively opening new bank branches and expanding its business as the Commonwealth Government owned Peoples Bank.

Privatisation of the Bank in the 1990’s, in my opinion, should have not occurred.

We operated the Central Bank (now named Reserve Bank) and the Note Printing Branch. We competed very strongly with the six or seven private banks then operating in Australia. We conducted Commonwealth Treasury Bond issues for the Commonwealth Government and this was vital for our economy, in the war time and post war years.

Queen Street in the early post World War ll years was crowded with migrants and residents of the new suburbs being built in Mt Druitt and other nearby precincts.

The old houses in Queen Street weer gradually replaced with shops and offices.

Queen Street St Marys will benefit from the north/south rail and road corridors being developed for the Western Sydney Airport at Badgerys Creek and for the new residential suburbs and employment areas.

Researcher: Lyn Forde St Marys & District Historical Society Research Officer

Lyn Forde

Lyn Forde is 56% English/Scottish, 19% Irish and 25% European.  She is a 7th generation Australian with two First Fleeters connected to Ropes Crossing. Lyn was born in Penrith, lived in St Marys, Kingswood and now lives in Werrington. She went to St Marys Public School, St Marys High School and Penrith Business College. Lyn retired in 2005 working in administration. 

Lyn is divorced and a great grandmother of four. She has researched local history since the 1970’s and she is a contributor of the History Page in the local Nepean News. Lyn was a Secretary of the first St Marys Historical Society and currently a Research Officer & Vice-President. She is also a member of Encore Historical Sewing Group at St Marys Corner.  Lyn has researched and self-published several books on local history, it is the area where she feels at home and where she can research her earlier family and community connections.

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