Collingwood Notables Database
Robert Hurst was a successful bootmaker, unusual in that he not only manufactured and imported boots and shoes, but sold them in his own shops. The number one shop was in Smith Street on the corner of Peel Street (demolished) and he had shops in many other suburbs and the city as well as Ballarat and Geelong.
Hurst arrived in Victoria from Liverpool in 1853 and took some time to make a success of his life. After working as a labourer and a general dealer, he started a retail boot shop in 1864 but being unsuccessful tried his luck at the New Zealand diggings in 1866, where he fared no better. Returning to Melbourne, he became a journeyman bootmaker to Mr Hugh Thompson in Rokeby Street Collingwood. Eventually things began to look up when he went into partnership with Johann Yager. The partners set up in a small way but gradually expanded. They had moved into larger premises in Kerr Street Fitzroy by the time Hurst left Yager in the late 1880s to build his own factory near the corner of Queens Parade and Grant Street North Fitzroy. Here he employed more than 100 hands with an estimated turnover of £30,000 to £35,000 per annum. The shop on the corner of Smith and Peel Streets (depicted below in 1905) opened around 1889.
Around the same time, Hurst moved from his brick house in Hoddle Street when he bought Yarra House, the Abbotsford mansion of wool merchant Jesse Fairchild. The Hoddle Street house had a NAV of £40, while the Abbotsford property was rated at £220. Although Fairchild’s extensive land holding was subdivided in 1885-86, the two-storey brick house and stables were very substantial and retained a large garden, on a block 168 feet by 323 feet.
After his death the firm Robert Hurst and Company continued well into the 20th century, managed by his sons Michael and Robert. The widowed Mrs Hurst continued living in Fairchild Street until her death in 1913.
Corner Smith and Peel Street
296 Smith Street c. 2004
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Jane Rimmer (c. 1830-1857)||25 October 1852||Mary 1854; Jane 1856|
|Honora Quirk (1841-1913)||1858||12 children|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|Hoddle Street near nw corner Hotham Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|Work Street||Work City||Status of Building|
|112 Smith Street||Collingwood||Demolished|
|296 Smith Street||Collingwood||Extant|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|23 November 1895||Abbotsford|
Collingwood and Fitzroy illustrated directory and handbook, 1905; Sutherland, Victoria and its metropolis;The Argus