Indian Hawkers Purchased Goods From Factories In Melbourne, Victoria

Indian Hawkers Purchased Goods from Factories in Melbourne, Victoria

© Len Kenna & Crystal Jordan 2019

Indian Hawkers supplied a large range of items used in everyday life for people in cities and towns throughout Australia. One on those hawkers was Siva Singh, who hawked in the Benalla District, Victoria. The Australian Indian Historical Society Inc. is preserving Siva Singh’s Wagon and they have found shoes among other items in the wagon. Shoes sold by Hawkers in Australia came from Boot and Shoe Manufacturers such as Whybrow & Co. Pty. Ltd. Stafford Street, Abbotsford, Victoria.

Whybrow & Co. Pty. Ltd., a Boot and Shoe Manufacturer in Stafford Street, Abbotsford, Melbourne, Australia, was founded by Arthur Whybrow in 1888.  He was born in Geelong in 1862 and he was the son of Jacob and Elizabeth nee Cross. [1] He began work as an apprentice in the boot trade with Strong and Pierce, Moorabool Street, Geelong, before travelling to Collingwood, Melbourne in 1884 where he continued to work in the boot trade. After working for four years as a Bootmaker Arthur started his own business manufacturing boots and shoes. [2]   He then formed a partnership with John Keech and they leased or rented a Wooden Factory from Solly Fabian, in Emerald Street, on the west side of Perry Street. In 1891 Whybrow Keech & Co. was operating a business in a Brick Factory in Stafford Street, Abbotsford, and John Waterson had joined the membership of the Company. In 1894 Arthur Whybrow owned a wooden house and vacant block of land at 5-7 Stafford Street and Whybrow Waterson & Co. owned 9-11 Stafford Street. Later the same year Arthur sold the property at 5-7 Stafford Street to David Black while Whybrow Waterson & Co. still operated the business at 9-11 Stafford Street. The business continued to grow at this address and by 1900 the business of Whybrow & Co. were listed on the rate notice as the owners of the building.[3]


Photograph from the Australian Footwear Souvenir of the British Empire Exhibition London 1924 Booklet. Crystal Jordan

On On Christmas Eve 1903 fire broke out at Whybrow’s. The factory was in two sections each three stories high and separated by a narrow right of way. An iron shoot and a covered bridge connected the two buildings that occupied the block situated between Stafford and Studley Streets, Abbotsford. The fire began in the rear portion in the top floor of the second section of the factory that had a galvanised roof. Parts of the walls fell in and machinery and stock was destroyed. The building was covered by insurance. At this time the factory employed between 600 and 700 employees.[4]

The Company were incorporated in 1911 with a capital of £100,000 ($200.000).  Whybrow & Co., Pty. Ltd. and the Proprietors of the Company were men who had steered the Company from its earliest beginnings into a successful publicly listed Company. The Company became known affectionately as Whybows.

The Directors of Whybrow & Co. Pty. Ltd. in 1924. Arthur Whybrow is most probably the man seated centre front. Australian Footwear Souvenir of the British Empire Exhibition London 1924 Booklet. Crystal Jordan

During the early expansion of Whybrow’s & Co. Arthur married Alice Wilhelmina Hook Rostron in 1893. They lived in Gold Street, Clifton Hill and later in Kneen Street, Fitzroy, and finally settled in their family home, “Rostrona” at Studley Park with their five children.[5]

Whybrow’s imported British manufactured quality Leathers, Laces, Threads, Cotton Goods, Ornaments & Buckles, Eyelets & Hooks, Lasts, Buttons, Bindings & Loopings, Silks, and Wood Heels to produce Quality Lines of Ladies and Gents Boots and Shoes. Australian products such as leather, may have been used in the manufacture of products at Whybrows. They produced up to 12,000 pairs per week or 600,000 pairs per year.

Whybrow’s imported British manufactured quality Leathers, Laces, Threads, Cotton Goods, Ornaments & Buckles, Eyelets & Hooks, Lasts, Buttons, Bindings & Loopings, Silks, and Wood Heels to produce quality lines of Ladies and Gents Boots and Shoes. They produced up to 12,000 pairs per week or 600,000 pairs per year. Australian products such as leather, may have been used in the manufacture of products at Whybrows.

Arthur Wybrow was considerate of the welfare of his male and female employees and provided a well ventilated, clean work environment with Men’s and ladies luncheon rooms and Rest Rooms and was one of the first Company’s to provide and subsidise a Factory Relief Fund.

Whybrow’s imported British manufactured quality Leathers, Laces, Threads, Cotton Goods, Ornaments & Buckles, Eyelets & Hooks, Lasts, Buttons, Bindings & Loopings, Silks, and Wood Heels to produce Quality Lines of Ladies and Gents Boots and Shoes. Australian products such as leather, may have been used in the manufacture of products at Whybrows. They produced up to 12,000 pairs per week or 600,000 pairs per year.

Arthur Wybrow was considerate of the welfare Company’s male and female employees and provided a well ventilated, clean work environment with Men’s and ladies luncheon rooms and Rest Rooms and was one of the first Company’s to provide and subsidise a Factory Relief Fund.

In 1901Arthur Whybrow was in favour of the “Factories Act” because it benefited workers by having a minimum wage.[6] In 1910 he was interested in the clarification of the differences between State and Federal Law for Employees and Apprentices in the Boot Trade.[7]

In 1914 a new brick factory was built in Stafford Street and is now heritage listed.[8]

In 1919 a Welfare Secretary was appointed, Profit sharing and Savings Fund Schemes were introduced, a Library was established and physical culture classes and other social activities were started for both male and female employees.[9] By 1924 a sum of £31,000 had been allocated from Company Funds for the benefit of Returned Soldiers and Employees, of which £19,000 was paid as bonuses to the Staff Employees in various States.

Archibald Andrew Jordan (indicated by arrow on right) was employed as a Clicker at Whybrow’s Factory Abbotsford in 1924. Australian Footwear Souvenir of the British Empire Exhibition London 1924 Booklet. Crystal Jordan
Archibald Andrew Jordan a Clicker at Whybrow Pty. Ltd. 1924. . Photo. Crystal Jordan.

Whybrow’s Cricket Team competed in the Boot Trade’s Cricket Association and the  Whybrow Football Team competed in the “Boot Trades’s Football Association” which was disbanded in May 1927 and reformed as the “Saturday Morning Industrial Association” with five Industries represented.  The other four Industries represented were, British and Australasian Tobacco Co., The States Tobacco Co., G. N. Raymond’s Boot Factory and Burke and Cooke. The Opening Day was the 21 May 1927. However, it still seemed to be reported in the Newspapers as The Saturday Morning Boot Trade’s Football Association.

Arthur was also very interested in Technical Education and was instrumental in the establishment of a training school at Collingwood for repatriated Soldiers of World War One.  He generously supported child welfare organisations and the Alfred Hospital. He was keen on sport and was a member of the Metropolitan and Victoria Golf Clubs, the Atheneum Club, the Victoria Racing Club and the Moonee Valley Racing Club.

In 1907 Whybrow’s was awarded the Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Exhibition.

Whybrow’s Cricket Team competed in the Boot Trade’s Cricket Association and the  Whybrow Football Team competed in the “Boot Trade’s Football Association.” The Football Association was disbanded in May 1927 and reformed as the “Saturday Morning Industrial Association” with five Industries represented.  The other four Industries represented were, British and Australasian Tobacco Co., The States Tobacco Co., G. N. Raymond’s Boot Factory and Burke and Cooke. The commencement of the competition was 21 May 1927. However, it still seemed to be reported in the Newspapers as The Saturday Morning Boot Trade’s Football Association.

Arthur was also very interested in Technical Education and was instrumental in the establishment of a training school at Collingwood for repatriated Soldiers of World War One.  He generously supported child welfare organisations and the Alfred Hospital. He was keen on sport and was a member of the Metropolitan and Victoria Golf Club, the Athenaeum Club, the Victoria Racing Club and the Moonee Valley Racing Club.

In 1907 Whybrow’s was awarded the Gold Medal at the New Zealand International Exhibition.

In 1924 Whybrow Factories and Victorian Warehouse situated at Abbotsford had a floor space of some 90,000 square feet with a large area used by the Men’s and Ladies’ Dining Rooms and Restrooms, Grounds and General Buildings. 

Whybrow’s Shoes had a reputation for fit style and good wear and were second to none and were marketed throughout Australia. Branch Warehouses for distribution were established at Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth and sold by retailers in cities and towns in New South Wales, South Australia, Queensland, Western Australia, Tasmania as well as Victoria.[10]

On the 23 April 1924 Whybrow & Co. Pty. Ltd. took part in The British Empire Exhibition at Wembley Park, London, UK it was spread over 220 acres. The Company was accepted by the Exhibition Commission, as representative of the Boot and Shoe Manufacturing Industry in Australia, and at their own expense erected and arranged The Australian Footwear Exhibit.  The Structure, Show Cases and Furniture for the Whybrow Exhibit was designed and manufactured by the Harry Goldman Manufacturing Co. Melbourne, and was made from beautiful Australian timbers such as; Blackwood from Victoria and Tasmania, Rosewood from New South Wales. Queensland Maple and Mountain Ash found in many States of Australia.  The Exhibit occupied a space of 25 feet by 15 feet. The Boots and Shoes were made in Whybrow’s Factory, Melbourne and the range was in Welted, Turned Shoe, and Machine-sewn makes, that were equal to the class of goods worn throughout the British Commonwealth.

The object of the Exhibit was to demonstrate the substantial nature of Secondary Industries in Australia, of which the Boot and Shoe Trade was one of the most important, and show visitors to the Exhibition the wide range of resources and opportunities of the Australian Continent.

On the 13 September 1924 Whybrow and Co., were Exhibit No. 5 at the All Australian Exhibition of Manufacturers at the Melbourne Exhibition Buildings. The Exhibition was opened by Prime Minister Mr. Stanley Bruce. At the Exhibition employees illustrated the making of Welted Boots and Shoes.[11]

Arthur Whybrow died aged 83 in 1945, at Lister House, Collins Street, and at the time of his death he was Chairman of Directors at Whybrows & Co. Pty. Ltd.   He was survived by two sons and three daughters. His wife died 18 months prior to his death.[12]

This 8th Light Horse A.I.F. Soldier was an Employee of Whybrow’s after WWI. He was a friend of Archibald Jordan pictured above. His name written on the back of the photograph is difficult to read. Photo: Crystal Jordan.

[1] Whybrow, Jacob, Marriage Certificate Reg: No: 3185/1859 Vic.
[2] Victorian Industries…Whybrow & Co., The Argus Melb. Vic. Thu. 9 Sep. 1926 p. 28.
[3] Rate Books for the City of Collingwood, Public Record Office Victoria.
[4] “Disastrous Factory Fire.” The Australasian Melb. Vic. Sat. 2 Jan. 1904, p. 38.
[5] Rate Books for the City of Collingwood, Public Record Office Victoria.
[6] “Factories Act Commission.” The Age Melb. Vic. Fri 20 Sep. 1901, p. 8. 
[7] Australian Boot Trade Employees Federation v Whybrow & Co. 1910 (1) (2) (3) High Court of Australia.
[8] Northern Suburbs Factory Study Part 2 Gary Vines and Matthew Churchward 1992.
[9] Boot Trades Football Association, The Herald Melb. Vic. Sat. 7 May 1927, p. 5.
[10] Australian Footwear Souvenir of the British Empire Exhibition London 1924 Booklet, in the possession of Crystal Jordan.
[11] The Argus Supplement Melb. Vic. Sta. 13 Sep. 1924, pps. 1-8.
[12] “Obituary, Mr. A. Whybrow.” The Age, Melb. Vic. Tue. 13 Nov. 1945, p. 2.