294 Victoria Street

294 Victoria Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
photographer: Stephen Hatcher 2022

Also known as Black & Spence Confectioners, earlier known as Black Brothers Confectionary. Source: source: Sands & McDougall directory 1895
Previous Address 294-298 Victoria Street was previously known as 48-50 Victoria Street, Hotham before street renumbering. Source: source: Sands & McDougall directory 1895

Timelapse Building Images


Elements of this buildings Victorian heritage can be seen by looking down the side and up at the distinctive detail on the chimney, its brickwork and the masonry treatment around its side windows.

photographer Stephen Hatcher


source: http://maps.melbourne.vic.gov.au/


Acknowledgement: original photo donated to Hotham History Project photographic collection in 2022 by Gerri Hopper of Kew East.

source: the Hotham History Project collection

Land Details

  1. 1895 MMBW map
  2. Compiled Crown Record Plan

Building Details

No Entries Found

Subsequent Building Alterations

Other than the 1940s alteration to its facade, the original fabric behind this Victorian building once occupied by highly regarded manufacturers of Black and Spence Confectioners is mostly intact. The 1940s alterations can be undone and this building can be returned back to its original Victorian grandeur in the future. It is one of a small number of an early confectionery industry building still in existence and its original structure must be retained for the benefit of future generations.

Architectural Features

    No Entries Found

Heritage Significance and Listings

Heritage Listings and Explanatory Notes


From To Owner More Info Data Source
to date Private source: Hatcher Index
8/7/1864 Mr. C. H. Cleary, first Crown land purchaser
abt 40 thousand years earlier 1835 Boon Wurrung and Woiwurrung (Wurundjeri) peoples of the Kulin Nation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_Victoria source: Hatcher Index


From To Resident More Info Data Source
to date Private source Hatcher Index
Black and Spence Confectionary source: Hatcher Index

Social History

1937  The Story of Our Secondary Industries.

How Great Industry Grew from Small Beginnings.
ACCORDING to authoritative estimates the people of Australia buy more than £6,000,000 worth of confectionery every year (retail figures), the consumption of sweets per head of population being valued at slightly more than £1. Almost the whole of the vast quantity of confectionery consumed throughout the Commonwealth nowadays manufactured in Australia. From a small arid crude beginning in the early years of colonisation the sweet-making industry has grown to huge proportions, spread throughout all States of the Commonwealth, and attained such a state of efficiency that it is capable of supplying confectionery in range, variety and quality comparable with the products of the best factories of Europe and America. The industry affords direct employment to about 7000 people, and pays nearly £1,000,000 a year to them in wages and salaries. Also it absorbs vast quantities of raw materials from other Australian industries. Like other great industries of this young nation, the confectionery-making industry has encountered many hardships and difficulties. Its pioneers had to fight hard with the assistance and unswerving support of “The Age” — alone of the daily papers in Australia — for protection against imports from old-established factories overseas; and in later periods there have been desperate struggles to survive through trade depressions and other forms of adversity. Now it is one of the major secondary industries of Australia, possessing some of the largest and best-equipped confectionery factories in the British Empire, and one of the largest in the world.
Confectionery is classified as a luxury, but it is claimed to be one of the most “essential luxuries.” In all places, in good times and bad, there is always a demand for it. The growth of the sweet-making industry in Australia has been somewhat spasmodic, in its earlier phases it was confined mainly to the production of boiled hard panned and other simple forms of sweets. The higher classes of confectionery were imported, and the pioneers of the industry in Australia had a hard struggle to secure and maintain business in competition with the importing houses. The introduction of protection was of vital importance to the confectionery industry by enabling local manufacturers — though some of them are snobbishly ungrateful to-day — to increase their plant and their range of manufactures. At the inception of Federation the confectionery industry was well established throughout the Commonwealth, in the first four years of federation the number of confectionery factories increased from 71 to 79, and the number of employees from 1845 to 2418. By 1913 there were 99 factories and 3480 employees. Then came the Great War, and with it a sudden expansion of the confectionery industry throughout Australia. Shipping of luxuries ceased, and Australian confectionery manufacturers were left with a clear field for the supply of chocolates and all high-class sweets on the Commonwealth market. They rose to the occasion, and by the end of the war the output of confectionery in Australia had increased by more than £1,300,000 (from £1,657,045 in 1913 to £2,969,537 in 1918), while the number of factories had increased to 147, and the employees to 5850. Since then the industry has continued to progress, except during the grim period
at the recent world-wide depression. Several large overseas manufacturers have established factories in Australia, and the amount of confectionery now imported Into the Commonwealth is negligible.
Early Manufacturers.
Records of the confectionery trade show that as far back as the mid-fifties of last century three factories were engaged in the manufacture of confectionery in Melbourne. They were those of Messrs. Dillon and Barfoot, in Sydney-road, Brunswick (next to the Sarah Sands Hotel); Messrs. J. and R. Black, Madeline-street, Carlton (near Carlton Brewery), and Mr. T. H. Nott, Bourke-
street east, Melbourne. A Mr. William St. Paul, who was associated in the business with J. and R. Black, subsequently opened a confectionery factory with his brother Ralph in Flemington-road, North Melbourne. The firm of J. and R. Black was established
by two brothers from Scotland, James and Robert Black. Robert worked for a time on the gold fields, but returned to Melbourne, and with his brother set up a bakery and confectionery business. The partnership was dissolved a few years later, and Robert
Black entered into another with Mr. J. B. Spence, a young man who had served his apprenticeship with Dillon, Burrows and Co.
The firm of Black and Spence carried on business as manufacturing confectioners for many years, and after the passing of the original partners was continued by Mr. Spence’s sons. Under the name of Spence Brothers the business is still carried on at Victoria-street, North Melbourne, by Mr. B. Miller, a son-in-law of one of the Spence brothers. In the volume “Victoria and Its
Metropolis,” published about fifty years ago, it is stated that Thomas Henry Nott, a native of Bristol, arrived in Melbourne
with, his wife in 1853. About 1850 he commenced business as a manufacturing confectioner at Carlton, where he continued for about eight months, and then entered into partnership with a Mr. Matthias. A brother of Mr. Nott also was associated with him. The firm opened business in Swanston-street, removed after a couple of years to Bourke-steet, and after carrying on business
there for eighteen months the partnership was dissolved. Mr. Nott opened another factory, in Punch’s-lane, and remained there till 1870, when he removed to 31 Little Lonsdale-street, and shortly afterwards opened retail branches in Swanston-street and Elizabeth-street. In 1880 he took a lease of premises at 69 Collins-street east, and subsequently removed to a shop in Collins-street, opposite “The Age” Office, where the business was carried on until recent times. Mr. Frederick John Nott, a son of one of
the founders of the original business is still alive, and his sons are associated with the confectionery trade. Messrs. Dillon and Burrows. Prominent amongst the pioneers of the confectionery industry in Australia was Henry Burrows, a native of Jersey, one
of the Channel Islands, who came to Victoria in 1852. The gold fields were the attraction, but although he was reported
to have been fairly successful as a miner, he saw better opportunities in business than in the hectic and hazardous search
for gold. A year after his arrival in the colony he was back at Melbourne. He began business in Madeline-street, but subsequently joined the firm of Dillon and Barfoot, confectionery manufacturers, of Brunswick. The senior partner in the firm was Mr. W. H. Dillon, a native of Cornwall, who arrived in Melbourne in 1851, and opened the factory with Mr. Barfoot. After a time Mr. Bar-
foot retired, and the firm removed to Latrobe-street west, purchased the works of a larger enterprise (the Excelsior Company, owned by Whittingham Bros.), and laid the foundations of what was to become one of the largest confectionery factories in Australia. In 1878 Mr. Dillon died, and was succeeded by his son, Mr. W. H. Dillon. Later, Mr. A. R. Warden and Mr. G. H. Burrows were added to the firm, which further extended its operations by taking over various factories, until in the eighties
the firm had nearly 300 employees. One of the earliest pioneers of the industry was James Long, a Tipperary man, who came to the gold diggings in 1853, settled in Ballarat and there founded a confectionery manufacturing business which subsequently was converted into a large biscuit-making establishment. The firms of Gourlay and Morrison, West Melbourne, and Bennett Brothers, were prominent manufacturers in the seventies.
A French Confectioner.
For the introduction of chocolate creams and the more choice varieties of confectionery into the Australian manufacturing sphere, M. Giraud, a Frenchman, was mainly responsible. In the sixties he was a leading man in the industry. He opened a factory at the east end of Bourke-street, but the business was not a success, and Giraud accepted an appointment as manager at Whittington Bros.’ Excelsior confectionery factory, in Lonsdale-street, where he had Mr. W. H. Dillon and Mr. Henry Burrows, founders of the firm, of Dillon, Burrows and Co., pioneers of the confectionery industry in Victoria. Mr. W. H. Dillon and Mr. Henry Burrows, founders of the firm, of Dillon, Burrows and Co., pioneers of the confectionery industry in Victoria. a larger plant at his disposal. His sweets won prizes at exhibitions in 1861 and 1866, and they were acclaimed as the best in Australia. By this time numerous manufacturing firms had been established, and there was keen competition in the growing industry. The firms of Walter Lucas (a son-in-law of Mr. W. H. Dillon) and Miller and Thompson were prominent in the trade. Another Frenchman, M. Jasper, put Confectionery Factory of Messrs. Dillon and Barfoot, Sydney- road, Brunswick (next to Sarah Sands Hotel), in 1854. Confectionery Factory of Messrs. Dillon and Barfoot, Sydney-road, Brunswick (next to Sarah Sands Hotel), in 1854. additional capital into the business of Whittington Bros., but Giraud was said to be an extravagant manager, and eventually (in 1872) the factory was sold to Dillon, Burrows and Co. The Lucas family continued in the trade for many years. Their first factory was in Swanston-street, but later a new one was built in a’Beckett-street, where the business was conducted till it was taken over by Dillon, Burrows and Co. Another manufacturer of that period was C. F. Bates, whose factory was In
East Melbourne, on part of the site now occupied by the Victoria Brewery. Mr. Bates also conducted retail shops in the
city, first in Swanston-street, on the present-site of Queen’s-walk, and later at the corner of Swanston-street and Flinders-lane.
The “Old Victorian.”
One of the most progressive firms in the seventies was the Victorian Confectionery Co., established by a German, a Mr. Buhler, in a factory at the corner of a’Beckett and Elizabeth streets. Unlike the Frenchman, Giraud, Buhler was a shrewd business man, and soon his products were competing seriously with those of the leading factories. To check the progress of the new firm Dillon, Burrows and Co. reduced the price of their sweets almost to the level of production costs. Buhler’s newly acquired trade then fell away more quickly than it had been gained, and the employees were called together to consider the position of the firm. One of the apprentices, it is recorded, suggested that Buhler should advertise for a partner with capital. The hint was taken, and
Buhler secured as partner Mr. R. Strahan, a wealthy farmer and investor from Ballarat district. The firm then removed to larger premises, consisting of a three-story wooden building formerly occupied by the refining works of the old Victorian Sugar Co., on the south side of the river, near Princes-bridge. Several changes of partnership took place in subsequent years, and until In 1885
the business of the Victorian Confectionery Co. was sold to Dillon, Burrows and Co. A new factory was built on the site near Princes-bridge, but in the meantime powerful rivals had arisen in the industry, and a few years later the old firm went down under the force of adversity in the land boom period. The business was bought by McPhillamy Bros., of Sydney, and Mr. Burrows was retained as an employee in the store. At a later period the factory was purchased by Mr. Abel Hoadley, founder of the confectionery business which is still carried on in the same locality under the name of Hoadley. The present company, Hoadley’s Chocolates Ltd., was formed in 1913 to take over the business of Abel Hoadley and Co. Amongst the employees of Dillon, Burrows and Co. was Mr. A. W. Allen, who was retained on the staff when McPhillamy Bros, took over the factory. Later
Mr. Allen opened a factory of his own in Brunswick-street, Fitzroy, and afterwards moved to North Melbourne. Eventually he joined Mr. J. C. McQuade, founder of the Amazon Confectionery Co., and a number of other prominent men in the industry, in establishing the firm of A. W. Allen Ltd., South Melbourne.
Mac. Robertson’s Unique Career.
The outstanding romance of the industry in Australia is associated with the firm of Mac. Robertson’s. The career of the boy who set up a lolly factory in the household bathroom, hawked his wares on foot amongst the confectionery shops of Melbourne, and eventually became the millionaire proprietor of one of the largest confectionery factories in the world, is now as well known to Australians as the history of Dick Whittington. Macpherson Robertson, the son of Scottish parents, who came to Victoria in the gold rush period, was born in I860 on the gold fields in Ballarat district. When he was six years old the family returned to Scotland, and young Macpherson, who was the eldest child, was sent to earn his living at a tender age. In the course of his boyhood in Scotland, in the little seaport of Leith, he worked successively at ten different occupations, the last of which was in a
confectioner’s shop. The family returned to Melbourne in 1874, and on the way from the ship to their new home in South Melbourne Macpherson, then 14 years of age, obtained a job at a butcher’s shop. At the first opportunity, however, he secured employment In the confectionery trade. While employed as an apprentice at the old Victorian Confectionery factory he paid one Ben Jonas, a senior employee, £1 to teach him to make sugar toys— small figures of horses, dogs, mice and other animals, shaped in plaster moulds. After serving his apprenticeship Macpherson Robertson worked in other factories — Walter Lucas’s, a’Beckett-street, and Black and Spence’s, Victoria-street, North Melbourne. The hours were from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and the wages 35/ a week, later raised to £2 2/. By 1880 he was a first class lozenge maker, and Mr. C. F. Bates engaged him on piece work rates which enabled him to earn up to £3 2/ a week. It was at this stage, however, that Macpherson had decided to begin  manufacturing for himself, an ideal which he had enter tained from the days of his apprentice ship when he paid Ben Jones to teach him the art of making sugar toys. So, with the full approval and encouragement of his mother, Macpherson, not yet twenty years of age, left his job and became a manufacturer on his own account.
Growth of Great Enterprise.
His initial factory plant comprised a tin pannikin and a stove made from a nail can, set up in the bathroom at the little home In Fitzroy. Three days a week wore devoted to making sweets, and the other three days were spent, from early morning to late night, hawking the goods on a tray, from one end of the suburbs to the other, even as far out as Willlamstown. In time an old
tricycle was procured, for delivery purposes, and later a one-horse waggon. Larger premises near by were rented for the factory, and at the end of five years Mac. Robertson had forty employees. At the end of twenty years he was the leading confectionery manufacturer in Victoria. With the advent of federation the business of the firm extended to the other States, and more additions were made to the factory. During the war period further expansion of the already large enterprise took place. To-day the works of Mac. Robertson’s comprise 17 large factory buildings with modern plant and machinery, occupying an area of
thirty acres in the heart of Fitzroy. This huge enterprise, which began without capital 57 years ago, now employs more than 2500 people, and pays in wages about £500,000 a year. The founder, now Sir Macpherson Robertson, was knighted in 1932, and is noted for his public benefactions as well as for his outstanding business acumen. He still directs operations at his huge factory
every day, and is known amongst his employees still as “Mr. Mac,” the name which remains on the sign over his office door.
Firms from Overseas.
A more recent, and highly important, development in the industry in Australia has been the establishment of branches of great overseas chocolate factories in the Commonwealth. The factory of Nestle’s, at Abbotsford, Sydney, which was established in 1916, is declared to be the largest chocolate factory in the southern hemisphere. It employs nearly 1000 people, and is noted for
the beauty of its surroundings and the facilities afforded for the exercise and recreation of its staff. Another large factory of the same kind is that of Cadbury-Fry-Pascal, on the picturesque banks of the Derwent River, Claremont, near Hobart, Tasmania, where many varieties of chocolate and other sweets are made. The firm of A. S. Murray and Co. (Australasia) Pty. Ltd., Brunswick, Melbourne, is a branch of a large English confectionery firm, and as a result of the high duties imposed in recent years under the Scullin tariff, the English firm of Rowntree’s is also manufacturing confectionery in Australia.
Other Developments.
Amongst other notable developments in the industry in recent years has been the rapid progress made by the company known as Griffiths Sweets Pty. Ltd. in the production of confectionery. The name of Griffiths had been associated with the manufacture of chocolate for fifty years or so when the firm of Griffiths Bros, some years ago contemplated reconstruction, and a new company, Griffiths Sweets Pty. Ltd., was formed to purchase the chocolate and confectionery, business of the old firm as a going concern. The new company began operations on 1st June, 1932, with Messrs. H. Henderson and H. Hunt joint managing directors, and although founded in the depth of the depression the business has made uninterrupted progress, and now, holds a high place in the confectionery industry. The names of all who played important parts in building up the confectionery industry In Australia are too numerous to mention. One of note amongst employees of the industry was Thomas Geddes, who took a leading part in the movement for an eight hours working day, and in the campaign for a high duty on imported confectionery. An other outstanding employee was Robert Gordon, first secretary of the Confectionery Employees’ Union, originally formed as the Victorian United Confectioners’ Society in 1883. Victoria is the location of the greater part of the industry, but there are large
confectionery factories also in the other States. Sweetacres (James Stedmar Henderson Sweets Ltd.), Sydney, is one of the largest. Plaistowe and Co. Ltd., Perth (established in 1890), manufacture 800 varieties of chocolate and confectionery. Adelaide possesses one of the oldest confectionery firms in Australia, that of W. Menz and Co. Ltd., founded in 1850 by the grandfather of the present directors. This firm is engaged also in the manufacture of biscuits. It may be of interest to mention here that most of the liquorice confectionery consumed in Australia is manufactured in Melbourne by Australian Liquorice Pty. Ltd., Brunswick, a company formed in 1923 by a number of leading manufacturers in various States.
Of 157 confectionery factories in the Commonwealth, according to latest published statistics (for 1935), 68 are in Victoria. 59 in New South Wales, 15 in South Australia, 9 in Queensland, 6 in West Australia and 1 in Tasmania. The number of employees stands at 7000, and the annual output value is set down as £4,464.590. The total value of all confectionery imports for the year was only about £22,000.


1897 The North Melbourne Gazette.

Factory Breaking.
The factory of Black Brothers, Victoria street, confectioners, was broken into on Tuesday night, about 2.30. A man named Michael Kelly, who resides at 121 Hawke street, West Melbourne states that he saw two men break into the factory. He left a young man named Duncan watching them while he went for the police. Duncan states that he saw the two men emerge from the building,
carrying a bag full of goods. On the premises being examined it was found that a bag of sugar (7oIb) and some pence, of the total value of £0.15s, had been stolen.

source: The North Melbourne Gazette

1886 The Hotham Shooting Case.

At the Hotham Police Court yesterday, William Arthur Cook was presented on a charge of shooting at Miss Tailor with intent
to commit murder, on the 14th Inst, at the establishment of Messrs Black and Spence, Victoria street. The prisoner appeared
to be suffering from the effects of great excitement. Sergeant Corbett informed the bench that the necessary evidence was in the
possession of the police, but that they were prevented from going on with the case by the critical condition of Mr King, who was shot in the arm. Mr. Black, whose knee was much injured by a fall in a struggle with the prisoner was not allowed to leave his bed by his medical attendant. Constable Dunlop said that he had visited both Mr King and Mr Black, and neither was able to be present. He, therefore asked for a further remand for one week. The prisoner, in answer to the usual question, said that he did not object to a remand, which was granted by the bench.


1883 The Confectioners Strike.

There is no change to report is the strike of confectioners’ employees. With the exception of the establishment of Messrs Black and Spence, where only comparatively few hands are employed, all the manufacturing firms in the city have ceased operations.
Nearly 150 hands are out from Messrs Dillon and Burrows factories in Latrobe-street and Yarra bank about fifty from Cox and Grant’s, and the other smaller firms range from five to twenty hands. The manufacturers say that they will not accede to the dictatorial terms of the employers, hut are willing to grant the reduction of hours, providing a corresponding, redaction of wages will be accepted by them. There has been a considerable reduction of hours granted by the manufacturers during the last
couple of years, and the time previous to the present strike was nine hours and a half per day for five days and five hours and a half on Saturday, The actual bone of contention between employers and employees is five hours, and the former assert that they cannot afford to make such a large concession. On the other the employes demand their terms without abatement, and so the matter stands. The wages of the employes ranges from 10s for boys to £3  10s for first-class hands.


1883 The Tariff Commission.

Mr. Robert Black, of Black and Spencer, confectionery manufacturers, stated that he agreed generally with Mr. Burrows. The prices of confectionery before the imposition of any duty were much higher than at present. The manufacturers met monthly, and arranged the prices. If there was no sugar duty or machinery duty he thought the confectionery duty might be reduced. He was about importing some patented machinery, on which he would have to pay £40 duty, and which could not be manufactured here. The prices of confectionery here were now 50s per cwt for boiled, and 60s for dry.


1883 Manufacturing Confectioners Association.

The annual dinner of the Manufacturing Confectioners’ Association was held on Wednesday evening, at Clements” Hotel. Mr
Henry Burrows (of Dillon, Burrows, and Co) was in the chair, and Mr. Robt Black (“of Black and Spencer) in the vice-chair. The
toasts included “Success to the colony,” coupled with “Intercolonial free trade and immigration and the Victorian Chamber of
Manufacturers” Mr. J. B. Whitty (of Lewis and Whitty) responded to the latter, he being ex-president of the chamber. He said
that the chamber had in the early stage of its existence many struggles, but nearly all the prominent manufacturers were now associated with it, and he trusted that before long every manufacturer would deem it advisable to be enrolled with them. A leading article in The Argus of the previous day had questioned some portions of a speech he had made at the chamber a few nights previously, but he held to what he had said though he gave The Argus the credit of having criticised him in a most friendly and liberal spirited manner. Several songs were volunteered, and an agreeable evening spent.



The strike amongst the journeymen men confectioners commenced yesterday About 150 of the employees assembled m the forenoon at the Trades hall, and it was decided that ‘he men should not return to work unless the concession they ask for viz, eight hours labour per day without any redaction m the present rate of wages was granted The action of Messrs Black and Spence in at
once agreeing to adopt the eight hours system was favourably mentioned, and it was understood that should any of the other
employers agree to adopt the system, the men employed at such factory should at once return to work.


Context and Streetscape

The property is situated within the municipality of the City of Melbourne. We respectfully acknowledge it is on the traditional land of the Kulin Nation.
source: https://www.melbourne.vic.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/history-city-of-melbourne.pdf
historical map source: https://www.slv.vic.gov.au/search-discover/explore-collections-format/maps/maps-melbourne-city-suburbs

This information must be verified with the relevant planning or heritage authority.


Other Information


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