Collingwood Notables Database
Hat factory manager, councillor
Shaw was the manager of the Denton Mills Hat Factory in Nicholson Street Abbotsford and lived close by, firstly next door and later at 104 Nicholson Street where he showed how attached he was to his job by naming his residence Denton House. Shaw was brought out from England to take over as manager sometime around 1882, to replace Thomas Shelmerdine who left Denton’s to set up his own hat factory in Trenerry Crescent.
Son of a cotton mill operative, as a young man Shaw worked as a felt hat body maker in his home town of Hyde, one of the small towns near Manchester, such as Stockport and Denton, where cotton milling and hat making were major industries. He married a hatter’s daughter and worked in several large manufacturing companies before being invited to come to Melbourne. The Denton hat factory expanded over the years to become one of Collingwood’s most important manufacturers and the Shaws became one of the district’s prominent and well-known families. He belonged to such organisations as the Collingwood Bowling Club where he was at one time president, and was made a life member. He was a Justice of the Peace, a position which assured considerable status. In February 1894 Shaw stood for council when Councillor Walker retired in Victoria Ward. The election was hotly contested between Shaw and Joel Eade who had first been a councillor in 1869 and was making a comeback. Winning by only six votes, Eade was reported in the local paper as saying 'The result was a most pronounced victory for Collingwood ratepayers, as his opponent's total was inflated by Flinders-laneism and absentee electors.'
Mr Shaw, mild by comparison, ‘also gave thanks and promised to again come forward on another occasion.’
It is not clear exactly what Eade meant, but presumably something about large textile trades having an undue influence in Collingwood. In any case, Shaw was elected unopposed in 1897 and seemed to become a popular councillor. In 1899 when he was setting off for England to inspect advances in the hatmaking industry (accompanied by Mrs Shaw), he was given a large send-off in the Lecture Room at the town hall with local bigwigs and members of Parliament, and the event was written up at length in the Mercury. It was also stated that he would have been appointed Mayor if not for his impending journey.
In 1895 he had moved to his new house at 104 Nicholson Street. It was a more substantial house than most in the area, consisting of seven rooms, timber, double-fronted with a return veranda and stables. As well as his residence he owned a number of rental properties in North Fitzroy and Abbotsford, had shares in the Denton Hat Factory Company, and various other investments. His salary was £1000 per annum.
In 1906 he became seriously ill with kidney disease; the services of three doctors, an oxygen supply, and medicine from Mr Gabriel the chemist in Victoria Street could not save his life. His wife and children continued to live at Denton House. In 1908 his son Charles Edward had a grand wedding at St Philip’s Church of England followed by a reception at Collingwood Town Hall. Stanley Shelmerdine of the Shelmerdine hatting family was one of the groomsmen. Charles followed in his father’s footsteps as a hatter at Denton’s Hat Mills, and lived at Surbiton, a large double-fronted timber property with a return veranda, at 20 Abbotsford St. Unfortunately he died young in 1919, leaving a widow and one son.
Denton House was finally sold in 1927 when Mrs Shaw moved to live with a married daughter. It became a small private hospital, mainly for maternity cases, and maintained the name Denton House. Mrs Shaw died in 1930.
Mrs Shaw junior stayed in Abbotsford Street until her death in 1966 caused a flurry of newspaper reports. Generally believed to be a ‘lonely pensioner’, the elderly widow was discovered to own over half a million dollars’ worth of property in Abbotsford and St Kilda.
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|c. 1847||Hyde, Cheshire|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Hannah Robinson c. 1846-1930||c. 1869 Marple, Cheshire||Charles, John 1873-1896, Charles Edward 1884-1919, Charlotte Hannah 1886, Elizabeth Ann 1887|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|52 Nicholson Street||Abbotsford||Demolished|
|104 Nicholson Street||Abbotsford||Demolished|
|Work Street||Work City||Status of Building|
|48-60 Nicholson Street||Abbotsford||Extant|
|St Philip's Anglican, Hoddle Street Abbotsford|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|6 September 1906||Abbotsford||Boroondara|
Mercury; The Argus; Herald; Sutherland, Victoria and its metropolis.