|Lennons George Street, Brisbane 1965|
|Lennons George Street 1949|
|Chifley at Lennons circa 2012|
When Lennons Hotel opened in 1884 fashionable ladies wearing bustles, trains and “Josephine Curls” brought glamour to the new hotel. Lennons stood proudly in George Street, Brisbane until 1972. By 1972 fashions had changed. In vogue ladies of various ages wore chignons and mini-skirts. Hemlines had risen; some disapproving eyebrows were raised.
Brisbane’s Lennons Hotel played host to many dignitaries over the decades. It was home to General Douglas MacArthur and his family during WW11.
On a frenetic Saturday night in October, 1966 we went all the way with LBJ; and Lennons went all out accommodating him and his entourage. With clarity, I remember being pushed from pillar to post by the hysterical hordes in George Street waiting for the President’s arrival. The crowd erupted wildly when his cavalcade came into view. LBJ’s massive frame stood tall through the sun roof of his limo. I cheered loudly along with the best of them. The air was electric with excitement; it was impossible not to get caught up in the moment.
The Beatles had already caused mayhem at Lennons on 29th June, 1964; but I wasn’t present for that life-affirming, earth-moving event. At the time of the mop heads’ visit, I was still living and working in Gympie. For whatever reason that has now slipped my mind, I was unable to make the trip to the city to join in with the screaming throng of hair-pulling, tearful fans. I imagine the main reason for my not being a part of the fray was the 29th June, 1964 fell on a Monday.
Lennons closed for business; and moved from its iconic George Street address into its brand new, modern Queen Street building in 1972. It was a newsworthy, exciting event in capital city of Queensland. Locals and visitors to the city alike couldn’t wait to taste the delicious, modern fare on offer in Lennons’ “Hibiscus Room” Restaurant; a restaurant the like of which the city had not seen before.
During the 14 years I lived in Brisbane I was employed by The Kolotex Group of Companies, as I’ve mentioned previously.
Kolotex was not only a hosiery manufacturer, with it head office and factory in Leichhardt, Sydney, New South Wales; the company also produced other aspects of women’s fashion - i.e. dresses, hot pants, pant-suits; summer, winter and in between; everything the contemporary stylish ladies wore about town for play and for work.
Glo International, the maker of Glomesh handbags etc., (not dissimilar to the Oroton Group who, in the early Fifties, discovered the fashion potential in interwoven metallic mesh. In Australia, Oroton was Glo International’s main competitor; and vice versa).
Some menswear items were thrown into the mix; more as an afterthought, or appeasement. Women were our prime targets. The late Sixties fashion scene, worldwide, was evolving; and, in some areas, Australia was a step ahead of the game. We didn’t mimic all overseas trends, many of which evolved in Britain. We beat the UK and the US in the manufacture of pantihose!
To clarify - when I first started working for Kolotex in July, 1965 there was only myself and my boss, the manager in the Queensland office. Our office, reception area and a small back room that carried some hosiery stocks (at that time we had wholesalers, Gresham, Down and Johnson as our wholesalers who distributed our products throughout Queensland, Northern and some central parts of New South Wales) was situated on the first floor of Heindorf House in Queen Street, Brisbane. In those first four or so years of my employ Kolotex manufacturered and supplied of hosiery products only; they then ventured further forth into ladies’ and men’s fashions; and in metal mesh handbags, powder compacts, cigarette cases, clutches et al.
By 1969 six James Bond movies held our imagination.
In 1969 we, in the Queensland office hosted a promotional evening at Lennons in George Street to launch Kolotex’s new product, “Top Secret”. Our new release was vibrantly colourful, befitting the fashion predictions for the winter ahead. "Top Secret" was very "Carnaby Street"....very "Mod"!
Four of Brisbane’s popular, beautiful models of the time were hired to showcase our new line. Decked out in dark glasses, trench coats and turtle-neck skivvies, they looked mysterious and spy-like. With Fedoras pulled low over their foreheads, and our “Top Secret” covering their shapely long legs, they strutted confidently along the catwalk to the beat of John Barry’s Bond themes. Some themes were belted out by Shirley Bassey and Tom Jones; others were sung more sedately by Matt Munro and Nancy Sinatra. The scene was set for a lively evening.
And then, sometime or other when I wasn't looking; when my attention was elsewhere, Lennons in Queen Street became known as "Chifley at Lennons". What Chifley was doing there and why I had to know about it, beats me!
Now Lennons and its pseudonym, "Chifley at Lennons" - either or - is not to be any longer.
What’s next, I ask? Well, I'll tell you....
What’s next is -
Lennons is being redeveloped and refurbished - and…wait for it… renamed…“Next”!
Lennons closed in June. It’ll re-open mid-next year.
The sands of time don’t change shape or name, but all else does!
Swinging Sixties Prawn Cocktail: Place shredded iceberg lettuce in 4 chilled serving glasses. Sauce: Combine1/4c each cream and tomato sauce, 1tbs lemon juice, 1tsp Worcestershire sauce and dash of red Tabasco sauce; season. Top lettuce with peeled prawns; drizzle over sauce. Balance lemon wedge on side of glass.
Lobster Thermidor: Split 2 lobsters, lengthwise; remove meat from shells and claws. Clean shells and polish shells. Simmer 1/2c each, dry white wine and fish stock, 1c béchamel sauce, 1tbs English mustard, 1 chopped shallot, sprig of tarragon and a small bunch of chervil; strain carefully; gently reheat with the lobster flesh. Pile flesh back into shells; sprinkle with grated Parmesan; brown under grill.
Veal Cordon Bleu: Flatten 4 large, thin veal fillets well. Grab 4 slices of ham and Gruyère cheese that are half the size of the fillets. Cover each fillet with the ham and cheese; then fold like a sandwich. Coat in beaten egg; and then in breadcrumbs. Chill for an hour. Heat 55g butter and 1tbs oil in pan; carefully cook the fillets; brown fairly quickly; then lower heat. Don’t over cook the veal; garnish with lemon wedges.
Crêpes Suzette: Batter: Combine 125g plain flour, pinch salt, 2 eggs and scant 1c milk with a dash of water added. Cook pancakes the usual way. Filling: Cream 125g butter and 125g sugar; add grated rind of 2 oranges and dash of orange liqueur. Fold pancakes into 4 over the filling; place into very hot dish. Combine juice of 2 oranges, 2-3tbs orange liqueur and a little sugar; heat; pour over hot pancakes; ignite just before serving.
Brandy Alexander: Shake together 22ml each, cream, brandy, dark crème de cacao; pour into martini glass; sprinkle with grated nutmeg.