Notable People of Collingwood

Collingwood Notables Database

Samuel Shelmerdine


Hat manufacturer

Personal Photo 1
Coronet Felts Ltd slouch hat

Samuel followed the family tradition into hat manufacturing. He was born and raised in Yarra House in Trenerry Crescent, Abbotsford where the Shelmerdine family lived next door to the Yarra Hat Mill, his father’s hat factory.

His father Thomas Shelmerdine died in 1899 when Samuel was 16.  This left his mother with a young family of five sons and one daughter, and a thriving business. It seems that Mrs Shelmerdine herself played some part in running the business at first, assisted by her brother Thomas Lockwood, an insurance agent and co-executor of her husband’s will. As her sons reached maturity, they went into the hatmaking trade. At the time of his father’s death Samuel, the eldest son, had been a pupil at Wesley College with his younger brothers. He was sent off to England in April 1900 and spent about four years serving an apprenticeship in English and Continental mills. Now an experienced hatter, he returned to act as under-manager of the Yarra Hat Mill.

Unfortunately, because of a clause in Thomas Shelmerdine’s will, the works had to be put up for sale. Advertised as a going concern in 1901 on a block 190 feet to Trenerry Crescent by 364 feet to the Yarra (somewhat less than half of the whole Shelmerdine property), it was finally sold in mid 1905. The Austral Hat Mill began operations around this time under the management of Abraham Kozminsky, but it is not clear whether this operated in the same building or a newly built one.

Samuel was thus free to travel again to England and the Continent to investigate and purchase the most up-to-date plant and methods. He returned in 1909 and set up his own operation in Wellington Street, Collingwood. He and his brother Ernest were directors of Shelmerdine Brothers Pty Ltd Dominion Hat Mills, which in 1912 provided 1500 khaki hats for cadets and citizen forces. Younger brothers Stanley and Edgar were also involved with the firm, although absent for much of 1915-18 as gunners.

In 1925 the United Felt Hat Company Pty Ltd was established, merging twelve hat companies in Melbourne and interstate. Samuel was appointed as one of the directors who also included representatives from Austral, Denton and Fairfield hat mills. At this stage Edgar withdrew from the business. In 1932 a new company called Coronet Felts Pty Ltd was created and operated on the Wellington Street site, with brother Preston Shelmerdine as one of the directors. Brother Ernest became a co-director. In 1940, along with several other Collingwood firms, they were commissioned to make slouch hats for World War 2 soldiers.

The 1914 wedding of Samuel provided the opportunity for a glowing report of Yarra House, describing the spacious rooms and roomy corridors, the breakfast laid in the capacious billiard room, and the picturesque views. Times were changing, however, and the typical nineteenth century pattern of prosperous industrialists living next door to their works was no longer the norm. Samuel and his wife moved to Kew, and as the other brothers married, most also left their Abbotsford roots behind, setting up house in other suburbs.  However, their mother and sister remained at Abbotsford until 1918, and Preston lived at Yarra House with his wife from 1918 until 1925 when he moved to Toorak and the house was sold to Dunlop Rubber. That company demolished the house and built a factory where they manufactured rubber boots and tennis shoes for many years.

Samuel died aged 70 in 1953.



Work Photo 1

Slouch hat label

Life Summary

Birth Date Birth Place
1883 Abbotsford
Spouse Name Date of Marriage Children
Rosalie Laviale 1914, Abbotsford Not known
Home Addresses
Home Street Home City Status of Building
Trenerry Crescent Abbotsford Demolished
Work Addresses
Work Street Work City Status of Building
Trenerry Crescent Abbotsford Demolished
3-17 Wellington Street Collingwood Possibly extant at rear of building on frontage
Church Lodge
St Philip's Anglican, Abbotsford
Death Date Death Place Cemetery
21 October 1953 Eltham Cremated at Springvale

Mercury; The Argus; Brisbane Courier; Sydney Morning Herald; The Age; Sunday Times (Perth); Graphic of Australia; Daily Commercial News and Shipping List (Sydney); Advertiser (Adelaide); Punch; Table Talk; Who’s Who in Australia 1927, 1929; Barrier Miner (Broken Hill;) Australasian; Gippsland Times; Sydney Morning Herald; Caulfield and Elsternwick Leader; Weekly Times.

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