JA Booth & Co

Although J A Booth & Co was a Sydney furniture and furnishing retailer for over 50 years, the company started life in a very different manner: as tea merchants.

The business was established around 1890 in Liverpool Street Sydney but by 1904 had relocated to the corner of George Street West and Jones Street, Broadway. It was only around 1919 when H Manuel sold his furniture shop on the opposite corner of Jones Street, that J A Booth & Co acquired the premises and entered the furniture trade.

Around 1931, J A Booth & Co made a major move from the edge of central Sydney to the corner of Goulburn and Pitts Streets in the Brickfield Hill area, right in the middle of a burgeoning strip of home furnishing retail stores. The new location was known as the McIlrath corner, named after this firm of grocers, with the new building constructed in 1928 to an H E Budden & Mackellar design. The six-storey brick structure provided J A Booth & Co with larger, more modern showrooms and the building was featured on the front cover of its 1933 'Catalogue of furniture' (TC 749.20493 BOO).

J A Booth & Co's 1933 catalogue featured a large volume of furniture, including a number of suites made of Queensland maple or walnut, as well as carpets, beds and bedding, ice chests and radios. By this date, the company had a regional branch in Hunter Street Newcastle and they described themselves as "manufacturers, importers, exporters, wholesale and retail furniture warehousemen and lounge suite specialists". Like most Sydney furnishing stores of the period, J A Booth & Co offered furniture at a large range of prices to appeal to customers on a wide variety of incomes, while at the same time claiming to offer better value than any other store in New South Wales.

J A Booth & Co remained in business until the 1970s but moved from its premises on the corner of Goulburn and Pitt Streets around 1958. The building on the old McIlrath corner site survives and in 2007 is occupied by the Mandarin Club.

Related materials:

To see all the JA Booth material held by the Caroline Simpson Library & Research Collection, go to the library catalogue.

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Michael Lech

Michael Lech


Michael Lech is a curator at MHNSW. He has worked on exhibitions, presented talks and written extensively on various aspects of the history of the home in Australia. Michael’s work has covered areas such as interior design, the history of wallpapers and furnishing textiles, the heritage movement, Sydney’s department stores and design history in Australia.