Collingwood Notables Database
Ernest David Sharp
One of Collingwood’s longest-lasting photography studios was established in the mid 1880s by Mark Joseph Allan. It was then carried on by Ernest Sharp at 318 Smith Street Collingwood, still under the name of the Allan Studio or Allan’s Studio, until the 1940s.
Ernest Sharp was already a professional photographer when around 1901 or 1902 his name appeared in association with the Allan Studio. He moved into the residence above the shop with his wife Katherine, two sons and one daughter. Family and wedding photographs taken in the studio continued to provide a steady trade, but business was expanding. Sharp was also taking more photographs outside the studio, for example, balls and concerts at Collingwood and Fitzroy town halls, and laying the foundation stone at the Collingwood football ground. Newspapers were by this time including photographs, and the Allan Studio’s work was frequently featured. His advertisements include offers to copy and re-touch and enlarge old photographs. The years 1914-1918 brought another, poignant, photographic theme: boys in uniform photographed with their family before going off to the war. His business was by no means limited to the local area: among the works which can still be located are many photographs of councillors and staff of Heidelberg shire, union officials and committeemen, and Lodge officials. His work was certainly professional:
There is on view in Messrs. Lincoln, Stuart and Co.'s window. Flinders-street, a framed picture executed and designed by Mr. E. D. Sharp at The Allan Studio, 318 Smith-street, Collingwood, for the Carlton Football Club. It is a distinctly creditable and meritorious piece of artistic photographic work. The mount is a tastefully-arranged cloudy effect, on which is depicted the nine flags, with raised, gilded flag-poles, symbolical of the premierships won by the club. In the centre, on a raised imitation football, is … the premier team, around which are grouped the officebearers of the club. At the bottom is a nicely coloured view of the memorable final match of 1908, also the crest, motto and colours of the club. It is undoubtedly one of the best pictures of its kind seen in Melbourne.
Punch 18 March 1909, page 16
The Sharps had been living in Falconer Street North Fitzroy in the 1890s, and both sons James, known as Jim, and Ernest Leslie, known as Les, attended nearby King’s College in North Terrace Clifton Hill. They seemed to be featured mainly in reports of sporting activities, but James was also dux of the school in 1898. Fulfilling their sporting promise, Les went on to play football for Fitzroy from 1903 to 1906, while Jim played for Fitzroy and Collingwood and was President of the Collingwood Football Club from 1914 to 1924. Both sons became photographers and joined their father in the family business. Les became very well known in professional photographic circles; he was a life member and sometime President of the Institute of Victorian Photographers. Their sister Hilda worked at the Allan Studio as a re-toucher, that critical element in ensuring clients were satisfied with the appearance of the finished product.
While the Sharp family were living in Smith Street, all three children married and moved to neighbouring suburbs Northcote and Kew. Jim married Rose Brown of Rushall Crescent North Fitzroy at St Andrew’s Clifton Hill in 1907. Les married Sylvia Carter of Michael St North Fitzroy in 1906, while Hilda married a Carlton boy in 1914, but died young in 1920.
The elder Sharps remained at Smith St until the 1940s. By this time James and Les were living next door to each other in Kew North, and their parents moved in with one of them; here Katherine died in 1945. Within a short time both sons also died, leaving Mr Sharp as a childless widower to be consoled in his last remaining years by his daughters-in-law and grandchildren.
Flight-Lieutenant Dermot Connelly (1903-1965), who was also a magician, became the new proprietor of the Allan Studio. In 1953 he opened a branch in Portland, sending his chief photographer, Mr K Hammett, to take charge of the up-to-date business. The 1950s and 1960s saw the production of many photos of magicians, and J.C. Williamson stage performances. During Connelly’s period the studio expanded into the neighbouring shop to the north, number 320, but by 1974 had reverted to the single shop at number 318. In the 1980s, after 100 years on the Collingwood side, the Allan Studio crossed the road to Fitzroy, but did not survive.
318-320 Smith Street in 2018
|Date of Marriage
|Katherine Cornelia Pierce, c. 1861-1945
|James 1882-1945, Ernest Leslie 1885-1946, Hilda (Briggs) 1887- 1920
|Status of Building
|318 Smith Street
|Status of Building
|318 Smith Street
|22 March 1948
The Age; The Argus; Sporting Globe; Punch; Fitzroy City Press; Australasian; Mercury and Weekly Courier; Portland Guardian; Collection of J.C. Williamson production records and ephemera, 1923-1964.