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From blacksmiths to street art

The colourful 200 year history of Globe Lane

Globe Lane today is a colourful, quirky laneway that is home to live music, vintage retailers, eclectic eateries and bars. The lane has seen highs and lows over the 200 years since the original land grant to Edmund Bourke in 1821. We take a peek into the evolution of this beloved community space.

Globe Lane, 1891. Image: Wollongong City Libraries

1891: The Blacksmith's Shop

The very first building on what is now the laneway was a Blacksmith's shop, on the corner of Globe Lane and Crown Street.

1895: The Great Fire

Disaster struck in 1895, when a fire wiped out buildings from Globe Lane through to the Commercial Hotel on the corner of Crown and Church Streets.

Globe Lane fire ruins, 1895. Image: University of Wollongong.

1929: The lane so good we named it twice

In 1929, the Council of the Municipality of Wollongong resumed ownership of the land. The laneway was opened up and named William Street. A short time later, with the realisation that nearby Keiraville already had a William Street, Council decided to rename it Globe Street after the popular Globe Club and Theatre standing at the entrance to the lane.

1936: A community space emerges

To support the growing local population and busy city centre, Council constructed Globe Lane Rest Park with accompanying CWA Tea Rooms in 1936. Workers and shoppers spent their lunch breaks enjoying the sunshine and gardens, with local bands playing on weekends.

Globe Lane Rest Park. Image: Wollongong City Library.

1936 - A night at the Savoy

The Savoy Theatre. Image: Wollongong City Libraries.

Globe Lane plays an important role in our performing arts history, housing an open air picture palace, and then the original Globe Theatre from the early 1900s. In 1936 the famous Henry Boland demolished the existing structures to build a luxurious and groundbreaking new cinema.

The Savoy Theatre was designed by architects Crick and Furse in the “Continental Modern” style. With seating for 1,000, the opening night souvenir program describes pastel coloured interiors, 3,000 feet of neon tubing and a canopy of multi-coloured lights. The opening film was “Poor Little Rich Girl” starring Shirley Temple, with a full program of vaudeville, variety shows and musicals to follow.

Trooper Frank Andrews memorial.

Memorials + Fountains

Between the 1930s to the 1980s, the Rest Park hosted multiple memorials, acting as an important community hub. These include the well known Mt Kembla Mine Disaster Memorial, Trooper Frank Andrews war memorials, and the iconic Mercury Fountain marking the newspaper's 125 year anniversary.

These important artefacts have been relocated to Maccabe Park and the Wollongong Botanic Gardens.

Globe Arcade, 1958. Image: 20th Century Architecture in Wgong.

1950s: Modern shoppers

In the 1950s, shopper behaviour evolved and the first indoor shopping arcades appeared. This gorgeous sketch is from 1958, showing the original (and very modern) Globe Arcade nestled next to the Rest Park on Globe Lane. The arcade still stands today.

1994: The popular all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut restaurant.

1985: The Gateway Mall

In 1985 construction commenced on The Gateway Shopping Centre and Crown Street Mall. The multi-storey Grace Bros department store was constructed where the Rest Park once stood. Now surrounded by a growing number of commercial buildings, Globe Lane became the outdoor retail and dining precinct that it is today.

Artist Smug One at work, 2017. Image: Wonderwalls Festival.

2015-2019: Wonderwalls

Fast forward twenty years, and you'll find Globe Lane filled with spectacular pieces of street art. Many were painted as part of Wollongong's Wonderwalls Festival. You never know what you'll discover on a meander through the eclectic laneway.

2021: Globe Lane today

Today, a new generation of visitors has embraced this creative corner of the CBD, with unique small businesses stamping their own personality on the space. We look forward to seeing what happens next!

Learn more about our local history at the Illawarra Museum, 11 Market Street, Wollongong.

Top of page banner image: The Mercury Fountain in action at Globe Lane, 1980. Image credit Wollongong City Libraries.