Sunday, April 27, 2014

Wilkie's Music Saloon, Melbourne

 

The advertisement in which George Griffith announced his presence in Beechworth in 1855 alluded to previous employment in "Wilkie's Music Saloon".  Investigation in Trove for 1855 reveals this business to be located at 15 Collins St East, Melbourne.  This was on the north side of Collins Street, just around the corner from Elizabeth Street, and appears to have later become the site of Block Arcade.  In 1862 Wilkie formed a partnership with John Campbell Webster.  In 1863 the business was joined by George Leavis Allan.   The business became Wilkie, Webster & Allan in 1869 until 1876, at which time Allen became the sole proprietor, and then Allan & Co in when his son came into the business.  ( http://tinyurl.com/mqkvpzk  A Guide to Dating Music Published in Sydney and Melbourne 1800 to 1899, by Prue Neidorf, 1999.)

 Wilkie's Music Saloon offered retail sales of musical instruments, sheet music, instrument repairs, sales of concert tickets.  Portable instruments were popular in the goldrush, for obvious reasons, and in 1853 advertised:

GOOD Wages and constant work for a person un-
derstanding tuning and repairing accordeons, at
Joseph Wilkie's, Music and Pianoforte Saloon, 15,
Collins street.

Advertising. (1853, July 28). The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 -
1957), p. 1. Retrieved April 23, 2014, from
http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article4795079
 It is not clear where George learned the skills of instrument repair and piano tuning to which he later turned his hand, but perhaps he learnt some of it with Joseph Wilkie in Melbourne.  No trace can be found of George in Melbourne in this period, so it is impossible to be certain how long he had been employed there.  Joseph Wilkie himself had come to Melbourne in 1850 via Adelaide.  As we don't know when George arrived in Victoria, it is possible he was with Wilkie even at this stage.

Wilkie's business became very well known and influential in Melbourne - Joseph himself was later elected to the Legislative Council.  When the firm moved to a new three storey building erected nearby in 1877 by Allen & Co, Wilkie's name was still incorporated on the fascia of the building, above the first floor.


"MESSRS. ALLAN AND CO.'S NEW MUSIC WAREHOUSE, COLLINS STREET"
Melbourne : Ebenezer and David Syme  December 27, 1876.  Published in The illustrated


Around 1988, some 130-odd years later, the family renewed the contact with this old pre-gold-rush music business when George's gt gt granddaughter was employed by Brash's, which had taken oveer Allan & Co.

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