Commercial Bank

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Commercial Bank, Cnr. Prince & Fitzroy Streets, Grafton. c.1890's. - Photo by Carl Ehlers.

Extracted from : "The City of Grafton" a 1981 CRHS Publication.


The first bank in Grafton was the Australian Joint Stock Bank, followed by the Bank of N.S.W. and later by the Commercial Banking Company of Sydney which set up its banking chamber in the Lion Hotel (now site of Commonwealth Bank), in 1874. Later the bank moved into premises in Prince Street then known as the Muirhead Buildings.

Due to new gold rushes on the Clarence in the early 1870’s the banking businesses boomed. The Banking Companies were encouraged to erect new banks. All were very grand and impressive buildings for their day, especially for country branches. The Bank of N.S.W. and the Australian Joint Stock Bank were later demolished but the fine Commercial Banking Company of Sydney still stands today.

The Commercial Banking Co. of Sydney building was designed by a Sydney firm and features pillars, carved stone and iron lace work. The interior fittings are of beautifully carved wood and were designed by Mr. T. A. Rudd, the first manager of the bank in Grafton. The building contractor was Mr. William Kinnear, who also had the contracts for the Bank of N.S.W. and the Grafton Post Office about the same time and is reputed to have used local sandstone in all these buildings. The bank was built on a “platform” above the height of the 1876 flood but unfortunately the 1890 flood rose to a record height and went into the bank itself to a depth of about 65 cm.

As the building was nearing completion in January 1879 a fire gutted the Muirhead Buildings and the bank staff was forced to move into the new banking premises earlier than expected.

During 1980-1 this building was restored to its former glory.


© Clarence River Historical Society Inc. PO Box 396, Grafton, NSW 2460

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