Sculptures on David Jones Building

Adelaide Central Plaza 

20170209_113129[1].jpgMost South Australians and many other people from other parts of Australia and around the world will know about John Martin in connection with retail history in Adelaide. Partners Otto Peters and John Martin established a drapery store at 94 Rundle Street on 24 October 1866. The new shop was advertised in the South Australian  Advertiser on that day advising the public that they would be able to by general drapery and clothing – dresses, paletots (jackets). mantles (cloaks), ribbons, gloves etc. Eventually Peters left the business and the shop was expanded along Rundle Street (now Rundle Mall). Martin continued as a sole trader until he brought the Hayward family into partnerhsip with him.

John Martin died in 1889 aged only 49 but a long tradition followed his death.

During the years that the John Martin store existed in Adelaide, it was associated with the Christmas tradition of the Magic Cave (opened in 1896) and the Christmas Pagaent started by John Hayward in 1933. From the following year, the pagaent ended with Father Christmas entering the Magic Cave. It may also not be generally known that when the Beatles toured Australia in 1964, it was the John Martin company that sponsored them to perform in Adelaide as this city was not originally included in the itinerary. The John Martin company was also a major sponsor of the Adelaide Festival of Arts.

John Martin closed in 1998 and despite public pressure to keep the art deco building that fronted onto North Terrace, the new owners (David Jones) had the building demolished in 2000 to make way for the Adelaide Central Plaza. The building that had previously been David Jones’ store was sold and remodelled as Rundle Mall Plaza, opening in 2000.

The commissioned art work on the North Terrace facade is the work of Adelaide artist, Catherine Truman. The work called A Way of Seeing was installed in 2000. It is made up of several autumn leaves in bronze and fibre optics pinned like brooches to the building. When Tiffany & Co decided to open in Adelaide, the building was remodelled, the facade altered and some of the leaves removed to make way for Tiffany’s entrance.

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In November 2007 some wonderful artwork was photographed on the old building west of the David Jones building on North Terrace. I haven’t been able to find any other photos so here is a link to Anny Studio. I doubt if this artwork is about the leaves on the David Jones building. Some reports say that the finger was in protest against the John Martin’s building being demolished. There are also reports that the occupier of the heritage building was unhappy about disagreements about the use of the lane separating it from the David Jones building. I am not sure what the real motivation was – perhaps someone has the answer.

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This photo from Anny Studio

Old Fire Station Thebarton

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Located in Carlton Parade | THEBARTON SA (now a private residence)

Thebarton is Adelaide’s suburb – established in 1839 just after the colony was proclaimed in 1836. Thebarton got its name from the home place of Captain Colonel William Light. His home in Suffolk, England was actually called Theberton  and it was probably a clerical/typographic error that resulted in the spelling being changed. Later when boundaries were added and changed and other suburbs established, many of the buildings that included Thebarton in their name were actually then in Torrensville – like Thebarton Oval, Thebarton Theatre, and the Old Fire Station.

Even though Thebarton was established in 1839 and was the location for many factories, it was not until 1916 that the fire station was built there and officially opened on Saturday 6th January.

The Advertiser newspaper reported the event on Monday, 8th January 1917. The report said that the button of the alarm bell was pressed and the firemen were ready in just 8 seconds, pulling out the hose along the dusty street, and had the water on in just 1 minute 46 seconds. When the bell was pressed, firemen were also summoned from nearby Adelaide and North Adelaide. The hose reel from the head station in Adelaide arrived in 7 minutes and the water was on in 73 minutes. The report went on to say that the North Adelaide unit was delayed because of at train at the Mile End railway crossing gates for 2 minutes, but still was able to reach Thebarton station in 10 minutes and 30 seconds.

The station was equipped with a large and powerful motor reel and ladder. Apart from having state of the art equipment, the building itself served a population of about 15,000. It was designed with a motor house in the middle front and flanked by the station-master’s residence on the left and the foreman’s residence on the right. The rooms were described as ‘spacious’ with provision made for 8 single men at the rear of the building. The two apartments allocated to the station-master and foreman and their families each included two bedrooms, a living room, kitchen, and bathroom. The red brick building did not include any unnecessary adornments. The original design remains evident today. To see how it looked in 1920, click here.

The old Thebarton is now in Torrensville. The western suburbs are rich with history from the early years of settlement. Find the fire station on Carlton Parade and take the time to find interesting old buildings, shops and advertising signs that still exist in this vibrant multi-cultural district.

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