Kodak Retail Branches in New South Wales, 1890s-1970s

The New South Wales branch of Baker & Rouse began in June 1891 when Baker & Rouse bought Lichtner & Co's photographic stock business in Sydney. Baker & Rouse purchased the stock and then moved into entirely new premises at 375 George Street. 

The Sydney branch became central to Baker & Rouse business activities. In 1899, just before Federation, it was noted that the company's official prices were calculated for the Sydney branch, as Sydney had the only port that was free of duty.  Where customs duties were payable in other colonies, these costs were added on to the base prices.

In 1900 the Australasian Photo-Review, published by Baker & Rouse, noted that it looked forward to the "abolition of various and perplexing intercolonial tariffs" that prevented "freedom of commerce" in the year of Federation, and which gave photographers in Sydney an advantage.

Led by JJ Rouse and his staff, the Sydney branch introduced novel marketing campaigns and was highly successful.

In 1904 Kodak took on the sole agency for Kodak Limited and at this time the company also expanded their rural network of dealerships, likely as part of their contract with Kodak. They had Baker & Rouse representatives in places such as Hay, Wagga Wagga and Inverell, using agricultural stores and pharmacies as their agents.

Baker & Rouse moved into new Sydney premises in late 1905, retaining their original store at 375 George Street but adding to it with the shopfront next door at 377 George Street Sydney.

The building that Baker & Rouse were tenants in was sold in 1907, and new premises were sought. A new Sydney home for the company finally came about in 1908 after a merger with Eastman Kodak, creating Australian Kodak Limited. Sydney was appointed as the retail and marketing headquarters of the company, led by JJ Rouse. The funds invested in the new company by Eastman Kodak meant that the business could now purchase its own retail property.

The prime retail location of 379 George Street was secured for the new Kodak headquarters. In October 1908 tenders were called for to erect a shop and warehouse. John Reid was the architect, and Mr W Williamson won the construction tender.

Within a year, in July 1909, Australian Kodak Limited opened their new headquarters in Sydney.

In 1922 land was bought outside Sydney city limits to build on for developing & processing department.  

In the 1950s Kodak took over the next door building in George Street where another photographic company, Harringtons, had operated a shop. A new Kodak House was constructed in 1955 in a modern form for the company at the combined site of 379 / 381 George Street Sydney, which opened for business in 1957.

In 1968 the company had a huge expansion, when a new warehouse and colour processing laboratory in Sydney began processing film at Annandale.

There were also other branches in New South Wales, including at Newcastle and Lidcombe.


The Australasian, 12 February 1887, p. 45, 12 March 1887, p.46; 4 June 1887, p.46; 16 July 1898, p.6

Australasian Photo-Review, March 1899 p.ix; August 1900, p.1-2; September 1900, p.30; December 1900, p.x; July 1909, pp.345-346, 349-350, 385-386

 Australian Star, 4 July 1905, p.2; 6 Dec 1905, pp.5, 7

Australian Town and Country Journal, 23 Aug 1905, p.33

Daily Telegraph, 20 June 1891, p.6

Evening News (Sydney), 25 June 1891, p.2; 1 March 1905, p.3; 24 July 1909, p.14

Hay Riverine Grazier, 1 Aug 1905, p.3

Milestones in the History of Kodak (Australasia) Pty Ltd, 1985

Museums Victoria, Kodak Heritage Collection, HT 30131, Manuscript - Kodak Australasia Pty Ltd, Edgar Rouse, Draft of Speech Made at Official Opening of Kodak House, Sydney, May 1957

Le Courrier Australie, 21 March 1919, p.2; 7 March 1919, p.2

NSW Government Gazette, 5 June 1891, p.4216

Punch, 13 July 1905, pp.13, 27

Sunday Times, 4 July 1909, p.2

Sydney Mail, 23 March 1904, p.709; 12 July 1905, p.91,110

Sydney Morning Herald, 17 Dec 1900, p.3; 9 Oct 1907, p.15; 3 Oct 1908, p.23; 27 Oct 1908, p.8; 27 Dec 1909, p.2;

Wagga Wagga Advertiser, 17 August 1905, p.3

University of Rochester Library, Kodak Historical Collection #003, Series II, Corporate Papers National & International, Subseries 10: National and International Kodak Locations, Box 59: Annual Reports and Data, Folder 9: Information on Foreign Companies (File 1 of 3)

More Information