Ron Ries

Ron Ries worked at Consolidated Neon and was involved with the famous Golf House sign. In his interview he talks about designing, manufacturing, installing and maintaining neon signs. In the excerpt below he remembers the best of the now dismantled neon signs of Sydney.

The Taubman’s sky sign on Canada House at George Street at Central; that was ninety five feet long, thirty five feet high, and in those days had eighteen hundred feet of neon tubing and about eighty four high voltage transformers to control it. It used to read ‘Taubman’s’ – and then paints would come on and then the colours of the spectrum would come across. There were ninety five transformers controlling the colours of the spectrum and going right across they were fifteen feet high – for ninety five feet they would run right across the sign. That was one large sign. The other one was Philips at Kings Cross, which was also ninety feet long by thirty five feet high, which was the council regulation height in those days. It had sixteen hundred globes, coloured globes in it, and they all used to alternate in colour and go across in a curtain effect and then go up in a curtain effect and each letter would individually come on. The best one was a sign we put on top of Railway House at Wynyard – that was about eighty feet long by thirty feet high. It finished up with Pan Am Airways. And it used to have the interchangeable letters – what they called “neon tube overlays” – where the messages would change from ‘to Hong Kong’, ‘Pan Pacific’ or wherever the flights were going and they would all flash on. They faced across Sydney Harbour Bridge, which was the ideal site in those days; everybody coming in of a night time.

Richard Raxworthy