Royal Reels: Gambling


The printed to private order cover was addressed to W. Templeton, Esq., Chairman of the Board of Directors of The Mutual Store, Melbourne. The lilac ‘TWO PENCE’ stamp of Victoria was cancelled by a duplex postmark of MELBOURNE/ 1 K/ JL 16/ 85 with the barred obliterator VICTORIA. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

William Templeton, public servant and company director, was born on 3 December 1828 in Glasgow, Scotland, son of Andrew Templeton, banker, and his wife Janet, née Forlonge. On 24 January 1831 William arrived at Launceston in his mother’s chartered brig Czar; the family went to Campbell Town, Van Diemen’s Land, but soon moved to Parramatta, New South Wales. William was educated at The King’s School. About 1843 he joined his mother at Seven Creeks station near Euroa, Port Phillip District. In 1851 he enlisted in the gold escort corps and was in charge of the first escorts from the Mount Alexander diggings; in May next year he became an officer of the mounted police. In 1853 he transferred to the gold commissioner’s office, Maryborough, and was successively sub-inspector, acting assistant and senior commissioner.

Templeton was resident warden, Maryborough district, in 1855-62. A judicious administrator, who declared the miners ‘a most respectable and orderly class’, he insisted on a restrained police force and constantly sought its efficiency. As chairman of the local court he suggested procedural changes, and when the office of warden was abolished in 1862, he became police magistrate to the Melbourne and suburban districts. He to Windsor, and was a member of the Prahran Council in 1881-84 and mayor 1883-84. He also supported a number of charitable institutions. Dismissed on Black Wednesday, January 1878, he decided to form a company in Victoria similar to two trustees and executors companies he had observed in South Africa. The Trustees, Executors, & Agency Co. Ltd was floated in 1878.

Templeton was managing director until 1890. Despite the company’s slow start he remained confident of its soundness and future success. His high reputation, his many business and professional friends and his legal knowledge were important in winning public confidence. The business was soon administering many valuable estates and by 1890 its original £1 shares were worth £15. Templeton was a foundation member and first chairman of directors of the Mutual Store. Originally a member of the Church of England, he later joined Dr. Charles Strong in forming the Australian Church. On 6 October 1859 at Brighton he married Mary Anne Godfrey of Stanley, Tasmania, who bore him seven sons and five daughters. He died at Tarana, Lewisham Road, Windsor, on 18 September 1890; his estate was valued for probate at over £12,000.

It was the radial railway and tram systems that brought metropolitan shoppers to Central Melbourne at Flinders Street which had The Mutual Store in 1872. Melbourne’s first department store, the large Mutual Store emporium was located on the corner of Flinders and Degraves streets. The company, established as a profit-sharing co-operative between shareholders and staff, was incorporated in 1872 but suffered a significant setback when fire destroyed the original building in 1891. A picture of The Mutual Store before the fire in 1891 is seen in Figure 2.

Architects Reed, Smart & Tappin, who had designed the Melbourne Town Hall and the Royal Exhibition Building, designed a new building in the Mannerist style on the same site. Despite the interruption, the company thrived and within a year of rebuilding, its range of products filled a catalogue of over 40 pages. The 1891 Catalogue clearly spelt out the services that the company provided to its customers: A list of tradesmen who supplied goods to members at special discount; orders for goods required by members residing in Melbourne suburbs would be collected weekly; members could arrange for monthly accounts; goods purchased at the store were delivered daily in Melbourne and suburbs, within 7 miles would be delivered free. These deliveries were by Messrs. Wm. M’Culloch and Co.’s Limited Parcels Express Waggons. A later version (1919) is shown in Figure 3.

An undated picture of The Mutual Store and Clock Tower, Melbourne at the corner of Degraves and Flinders Streets (256 Flinders) is seen in Figure 4.

In 1961 the Mutual Store was taken over by Peter Kaye Consolidated Ltd, which changed its name to Mutual Stores Holdings Ltd. Three years later Cleckheaton Ltd (Yorkshire) took over the company and closed the department store in 1965. After being home for almost 40 years to the Council of Adult Education, the building was converted into apartments.

The text concerning William Templeton was extracted from the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

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