31-39 Victoria Street, Fitzroy

“The Acme Shirt Factory was one of Fitzroy’s largest industrial employers, and one of the largest clothing manufacturers in Melbourne, with their main competition coming from the “Gibsonia” mills run by Foy and Gibson on nearby Argyle Street. The factory opened in 1882, and expanded quickly, partly due to their adoption of “production line” techniques and their integration of all aspects of production, from sewing to ironing to stables for delivery services, within the single factory site. By 1930, however, the factory had closed and been sold at auction. In 1941, the factory was taken over by La Mode Corsets, who operated on the site until 1963, and were then purchased by Easywear Shoes from 1963-1971. In 1977, the building was taken over by John Weller, who transformed the building into the “Universal Workshop”, a complex which included cages, restaurants, a cinema, markets, and specialist stores. The theatre on the site, known as the Universal Theatre, became a significant venue for alternative and independent theatre, particularly after the closure of the Pram Factory on Lygon Street in the early 1980s. The community radio station 3RRR also operated from the complex from 1981. This building and its many uses encapsulate the broader transitions shaping Fitzroy’s economy and landscape throughout its history.” – Lauren Piko – Yarra Past Port

CME Shirt Factory/La Mode Corset Factory, 31-39 Victoria Street – Fitzroy Industrial Walk – Oct 1992
La Mode Factories, Victoria Street, Fitzroy – held by Fitzroy Library, http://www.picturevictoria.vic.gov.au/site/yarra_melbourne/Fitzroy/15233.html

R. Aitken Pryor (Manufacturer)

This site was the location of R. Aitken Pryor’s Acme Shirt Factory in 1903. Mr Pryor had travelled from the North of England arriving in Australia in 1888, and eventually taking the manager role at the Acme Shirt Factory in 1893. The company employed more than 220 people at the time. (The Cyclopedia of Victoria, 1903-1905, Vol 1. p.561-562). There is much further information on Pryor and the output of the factory in the Cyclopedia.

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