Monday, November 9, 2015

Gordon & Gotch Building, Adelaide St

The digital revolution is well and truly upon us.

Television used to be the principal way entertainment was consumed in the home - these days you can stream anything from books to music to films and television shows at any time, right to your personal device for you to use at your leisure.

It's a long, long way from the way television appeared when it first arrived. It was only broadcast for a few hours daily, and it was very low resolution black and white images with viewing options being only a couple of stations.

Children in those days had to entertain themselves in different ways to the ways available today. These days if you ask kids if they'd like to play a game they head for their PlayStations whereas games in the past might have been draughts (checkers), Scrabble or Monopoly.

Another form of entertainment was comics. Here I'm not talking about cartoons on film or television, but magazines that usually set out a visual story-line using hand-drawn scenes.

Just as there currently seems to be a deal of criticism of computer games in terms of distracting or even corrupting today's children, there used to be similar criticism about comics. Many adults had the opinion that extensive reading of comics would result in their child becoming a delinquent. In my childhood neighbourhood many of us had comic collections and we would get together to swap titles in order to increase access. It was a hot trading environment too - popular titles could command a higher swap rate, as could the latest editions or special issues. Similarly, torn covers and missing pages would be marked down, so there was a lot for the young trader to be wary of. Here are some of the favoured titles of the day.

Many of the comic titles that were available in Australia in those days were imported from overseas, and the main importer was the Melbourne firm of Gordon & Gotch. John Gotch arrived in Australia in December 1853 chasing gold. That was unsuccessful and Gotch found himself selling newspapers for Alexander Gordon, an association which grew into a partnership. When Gordon retired in 1859 and returned to his native Scotland, Gotch bought his share and continued the business which by then was the main importer of newspapers and magazines from Britain.

Branches in Sydney and London followed, and in 1875 Gordon & Gotch opened a Brisbane branch. The business continued to flourish, being incorporated in 1895 and listed in 1897. The six-storey building below was erected in Adelaide St in 1926-7, and the size of the structure is an indication of how successful the company had become.
(Photo: BCC)

(Photo: © 2015 the foto fanatic)

The building is still standing in Adelaide St, populated with commercial tenants. Gordon & Gotch left the building in 1957 but they are a continuing player in the world of printed media, distributing more than 130 million items each year. They are now part of the PMP Group.

Click here for a Google Map.


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