Black and white 5" x 4" negative showing the opening of the new bar at Hotel London, Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, 24 July 1953. The liquor licensing laws of the day obliged public bars to close at 6 p.m. The ensuing rush to the bar to beat the clock for a drink before heading home for dinner became known as the "six o'clock swill". Also apparent from the image is that women were excluded from pubs [but not from serving as bartenders]. The six o'clock closing laws were repealed nationwide by 1966.

This image is part of the Laurie Richards Collection at Museum Victoria comprising approximately 85,000 negatives taken by the Melbourne based Laurie Richards Studio between the 1950s -1970s. These negatives are all mostly large format [5"x 4"/ 12.5 x 10 cm], black and white images, though a significant number are in colour. The many photographic jobs that were undertaken in the course of thirty years are itemised in a set of log books, copies of which are also held by Museum Victoria.

Laurie Richards was a professional photographer who began his career as a photo-journalist, working for the Advertiser newspaper in Adelaide, and the Argus and the Herald newspapers in Melbourne. In 1953, he opened his own business and set up a photographic studio at his home at 4 Tower Avenue, Alphington, an inner suburb of Melbourne. At its peak, in the late 1960s, the Laurie Richards Studio was one of Melbourne's pre-eminent commercial photographic studios, employing twelve photographers. The Laurie Richards Studio worked mainly in advertising and public relations, and had a broad clientele which included commercial companies, government institutions and the entertainment industry.

Description of Content

The opening of the new bar at Hotel London. A large crowd of people being served at the counter of a new hotel bar. Several female bartenders are pouring them alcoholic drinks.

Physical Description

Black and white 5" x 4" cellullose acetate negative.


Because of the breadth of both the subject matter photographed and the diverse businesses which commissioned the work, and the excellent documentation that accompanies the collection, the Laurie Richards Collection at Museum Victoria is an invaluable record of Melbourne's commercial and industrial past and as such gives an insight into the social history of that period.

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