Harrington’s Buildings

Harrington’s Ltd (trading as Harrington Cameras) was a household name throughout Australia in the 1920s. The shop sold cameras, photographic equipment and was a printing, enlarging and framing service.   

The photo shows Harrington’s Buildings (central and eastern sections) Collins St, north side, between Swanston and Elizabeth streets in about 1920.

Above Harrington’s was the tailors Georgette who made “modes and robes”.

Next door to Harrington’s was Melville and Mullen booksellers. Irish-born bookseller Samuel Mullen (1828 – 1890) arrived in Melbourne in 1859 and opened a book shop and library at 55 Collins St East before moving to these larger premises.

One of its special features was a circulating library. Based on Mudie’s of London, Mullen’s library was the first of its kind in Australia that specifically catered for the “intellectual elite” with “serious works and high quality fiction”.

In the 1870s, for example, Mullen had warned his staff that a gentleman “appears to be buying more books than he can afford”.

The gentleman turned out to be Australia’s second prime minister and founding member of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria – Alfred Deakin.

By 1925 Melville and Mullen was replaced by the Georgian Cafe.

Immediately next door was AW Eckersall’s ladies bootery and upstairs was the Astor Tea and Luncheon Rooms.

This set of shops was built in 1879 designed by the eminent architect Lloyd Tayler (National Bank of Australasia, Australia Club). The set of shops were demolished in 1938 for the erection of the Hotel Australia. In turn, this was demolished in the early 1990s and replaced by Australia on Collins (now under renovation).

This photograph is part of the collection held at the Royal Historical Society of Victoria.

239 A’Beckett St, 9326 9288,
The Royal Historical Society of Victoria welcomes visitors.

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