Doing business in 1873

A few weeks ago I was able to peruse early copies of The Dispatch and North Eastern Advertiser. This was the newspaper that John Rowan commenced in the early 1860s as the Wangaratta Dispatch. Rowan had moved on to Wahgunyah where he died in July 1873 but the newspaper had already been purchased by George Searle and Angus McKay in June 1872.

These were the days when office spaces were rare and it was the norm to find (respectable!) businesses based in hotels. Below are just a few of the advertisements from page one of two editions from October 1873 that relate to Wangaratta. There are ads for some of the smaller hotels and interesting businesses and some give clues as to when their businesses were first begun or when they arrived in town.

First up the population needed refreshment. Note that both John Dodsworth and Bridget Jarvis both reminded the community that they had previously been in business in the town. Dodsworth must have been responsible for many of the hangovers in town, having been brewing there since early 1870.









The population needed clothing and hairdressing. Mrs Chandler was possibly the wife of George Chandler whose drapery business became insolvent earlier in 1873. I’m not sure what the locals thought of that. William Meldrum’s store was part of the long history of the Callanders/Coles allotments on Murphy Street. Situated on a block originally purchased from the Crown by James Woodland, Meldrum sold out to Harrison Bros & Kettle around 1890. After fire destroyed the shop in 1909 the four owners who sold out to Callander & Forer. William McGain notes his premises as being next to Meldrum’s in Murphy Street. He also noted that he was near The Dispatch offices in Murphy Street. The newspaper moved around quite a bit with at least two locations in Reid Street after this time. This is perplexing as it must have been a mammoth task to move a printing press.

wang dis 15101873 p1 Woodhead tailor

They needed housing.

wang disp 15101873 p1 no5 Grant

They needed to educate their children.

They needed men to assist them get in or out of trouble.

wang dis 15101873 p1Gray auctioneerwang dis 15101873 p1 Norton & Notcutt solicitors

wang dis 15101873 p1 ToneAnd they needed men to despatch them. Thomas Swan’s business was situated on south western end of Murphy Street. Swan married my relative Elizabeth Cook, a daughter of Christopher Cook, a bricklayer whom we met here and here. I particularly like that to arrange a funeral with William Simpson, a bereaved party had to attend his office situated, albeit temporarily, in the premises of McKeone Bros., bookseller’s. One wonders if coffin selections could be browsed alongside the books.

wang dis 15101873 p1 swan undertakerwang dis 15101873 p1 Simpson undertakerOf course these were not the only businesses in town. They are merely a small selection  from the front page of a few editions of the ‘Dispatch & North Eastern Advertiser’ published in October 1873.

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3 Responses to Doing business in 1873

  1. I’m so glad I found your blog. I love it, and have followed. I love the way you paint a social history from the sources you have found.


    • Jenny Coates says:

      Thanks Gael,
      I just looked at your blog and love the discussion about the greeting you get in supermarkets. I find banks actually worse! Then there’s the 20 minute survey they expect you to fill out because you spent 5 minutes actually setting foot inside one. 🙂


      • Thanks Jenny. I’m just getting started so my post topics so far appear quite disjointed. Hopefully a pattern will emerge. My aim is to have a collection of stories about my past (born in 1965 so lots of memories of growing up in the 70s and 80s) and also things about the present, sometimes contrasting current issues with the past. And I didn’t have my children till quite late so there is an interesting contrast between their childhood and mine.
        I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts.



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