Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

John William Meaden


Draper, poet, temperance advocate

Personal Photo 1

Towards the end of 1880 Melbourne residents were busy anticipating the greatest spectacle their city had yet experienced: the opening of the Melbourne International Exhibition. Cargoes had been arriving from all parts of the world and a grand exhibition hall was under construction. For the opening ceremony the exhibition commissioners specially commissioned a 'solemnly versed and composed cantata'. Public competitions, open to entrants from all the colonies, were held for both the lyrics and musical score. John Meaden, a draper and temperance lecturer from Collingwood, won first prize and 50 guineas for his composition Victoria in which the colony's 'dismal Past' is contrasted with its 'glorious Present’.

The son of a London publisher and bookseller, Meaden was classically educated at St. John's College, Sussex, and travelled to Melbourne in 1854.  In 1862 he established a drapery shop in Wellington Street, opposite Stanley Street. Wellington Street in the 1860s was an important local shopping street and in the block between Vere and Little Smith (now Singleton) Streets, the draper’s shop was surrounded by all the necessaries for daily life such as a grocer, greengrocer, butcher, dairy and shoemakers. There were already several hotels in the vicinity, but in 1867 Meaden must have been horrified when the disreputable Stanley Arms opened right next door. Meaden’s shop, which became known as The Beehive, also sold hosiery and millinery and made Friendly Societies regalia to order.

Meaden gained considerable local fame, referred to as ‘the author of the prize cantata performed at the opening of the Melbourne Exhibition’. He also secured prizes of £100 for an essay on the ‘Commercial History of Australasia,’ £50 for an essay on ‘Protection in Victoria’, and smaller amounts for essays on the Sabbath question and other subjects. He won a prize for the best poem to be spoken as a prologue to the opening ceremony at the Geelong Industrial and Juvenile Exhibition in 1879 and a gold medal for the best essay ‘On the Benefits of Total Abstinence from Intoxicating Liquors'. Meaden was one of the founders of the Victorian Alliance, a temperance organisation, and established its journal the Alliance Record.

By the early 1890s Meaden and his sons had established a drapery in South Melbourne, where he died unexpectedly from a heart attack at the age of 58.

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
12 August 1840 London
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Mary Ann Bullock (18??-1898) 17 November 1863 St Mark's Fitzroy Five children born in Collingwood 1864-1881; 4 survived him
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
Wellington Street between Vere and Singleton Streets Collingwood Demolished
Work Addresses
Work Street Work City Status of Building
Wellington Street Collingwood Demolished
Church Lodge
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
21 March 1899 South Melbourne MGC

Victorian men of the time; Davison,The rise and fall of marvellous Melbourne;  Meaden, The poetical works of J. W. MeadenThe Mercury; The Argus.

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