In the later part of the 1800’s, George Shaw moved from England to Brisbane. I don’t know why, or how there was the skill and money to establish a shop, but the Brisbane Courier shows the Christmas advertisement above, at 1899.
There was another shop for ironmongery in the same location, all this happening around the corners of Queen and Edward Streets, owned by an Albert Shaw, who serviced Queensland with a well regarded business and reputation. Albert moved to Perth in his later years to be with a Church. The church was always a part of city life, and there are historic photographs of Sunday School processions in Queen Street.
George Shaw’s shop was a “grocery” shop, which sold all manner of things, including sewing machines, and pipes. There was obviously some connection to Albert Shaw. George Shaw had a genealogy connection with the writer and social commentator George Bernard Shaw, who was on the other side of the ancestry tree, if you imagine a tree that forks left and right. My mother sited letters from the writer.
Among George’s sons, Robert was a world champion shooter. I used to look at his many medals, including gold medals, as a child. They were small in size, and not particularly eye catching. Robert wanted to set up a Firearms store, and I am told there was some dissension between George and Robert over this.
The original store sold everything you could imagine. Where it sat in terms of quality and range, is hard to say. The store at one point moved into the new Granite Building, (1917) which no longer exists. It was a classy commerce building, and had one of the major banks.
Shaw and Sons was later bought out by Woolworths. The stock was put on sale, and the remainder was not re-sold, as Woolworths used its own lines.
The store name changed in 1934 to George Shaw & Co Pty Ltd, selling Firearms and Fishing products. I gather sports items were still included. Fishing was a good man’s sport in those days. There was an advertisement for the first use of a new mosquito repellant for fishing. There was some protest when fishing licenses were attempted to be brought in, but licensing never succeeded at that time.
It is hard to recall childhood memories with Harold Shaw, and I don’t know the history of the transition from Harold managing the store to my father George purchasing the shares, (and eventually all the shares from other parties) and managing the store. In the 1960’s I recall the name of the store was George Shaw and Sons, Pty Limited.
When my father George Robert Shaw took over the business from Harold, there was a gun workshop for repairing firearms in Woollongabba.
This area was once home to Brisbane commerce – trains and ships. Dad’s new store was located in Albert Street, just down from the corner of Queen Street.
When the business closed, the shop was purchased by Wallace Bishop. The building had structural problems, and the costs were too high to repair. The photo below shows the structural rods that Wallace Bishop put into the building, that extend from front to back.
I have various memories of the shop, and the city activities – such as going to the cinemas – Mary Poppins, Earthquake, Jaws. It was in the shop I played with an IBM golf ball typewriter. Up from us was a deli, that sold real milk shakes and rocky road, deep fried potato scallops and Chiko rolls with salt.
Dad’s store sold firearms, fishing, archery as a new line, ammunition, explosive powder, binoculars and telescopic sights, later pistols that the police purchased, trophies, torches, hunting gear, and knives – big knives. There was a gun smith workshop on the upper floor.
The shop bought out Watsons Sports store, and then sold every sporting good you could imagine.
As I grew up with many hours in the store, I learnt first hand the difference between average and quality products in this industry, and that sense has carried across to building materials and construction as my parents built new homes across the years.
I saw first hand, the unfortunate situation of staff theft, and the bad practice of offering discounts to the point that customers were always asking for a cut. That practice had to stop, and fortunately today it is very controlled.
I would like to note that my Dad knew all the key players in Australia. There is not one person who controlled a major brand that he was not friends with, including the big names such as Winchester, or Alvey, for example.
In the photos below, I have put in the lane-way beside the Albert Street building. It always smells the same, irrespective of the changes in buildings over the years. We used to watch Dad back a trailer in, narrowly missing the walls, to load up boxes of trash from the back of the shop.