The Forgotten Factory is the history of one of Australia's most iconic brand names: G&E Rodd.
From June 2016 to January 2017, researcher, author and curator, Clunie Walker, delved tirelessly into the forgotten history of St Kilda, and discovered an extraordinary story of innovation, entrepreneurialism, craftsmanship, and a saga that would encompass two World Wars,
The Great Depression, and the journey of a young family emigrating first to New Zealand, and then Australia.
George Rodd was a jeweller in Greeves Street, St Kilda, while his brother Ernest was a grocer in South Melbourne. In 1919, they created
G&E Rodd – a small enterprise that would soon explode into the Rodd Silverware empire spanning over half a century. Their factory complex, located on the site of The Laneway Artspace and the surrounding buildings, was once the might of the St Kilda workforce. Its iconic sign, once an integral part of the Barkly Street streetscape, was all but forgotten.
The Forgotten Factory is presented in three specially curated components:
The Rodd Collection features rare and precious pieces of Hecworth, APEX and Rodd – together in a display of classic refinement of jewellery, electro plated nickel silver (EPNS) silverware and gold-plated cutlery that was produced throughout the factory.
The Bruce McCullough Collection features photographs of the original layout, functions and includes precious, never-before seen
historical photos of the St Kilda Rodd Factory, generously provided by Bruce McCullough, Former Director and Manufacturing Manager, RODD New Zealand.
Researched and written by Clunie Walker, The History of G&E Rodd eBook is a fascinating account of the Rodd family – from their humble beginnings as struggling emigrants to the peak of internationally recognised entrepreneurial success.
About the exhibition
The Forgotten Factory exhibition opened at The Laneway Artspace on Monday 30 January, 2017, and after two extensions by public demand, closed on Sunday 9 April. Discussing the origins of the exhibition, Geoffrey Williams, Founding Artistic Director, The Laneway Artspace said,
'I was keen to find out the history of our part of St Kilda, and it was fantastic to discover that such a significant part of our history had occurred, literally, right on our doorstep. The story of the Rodd family and how progressive they were as entrepreneurs, employers and members of society is fascinating. It is wonderful that the exhibition will live on, and continue to grow, on this dedicated website and in the pages of our eBook.'
Photography: Gail Bond, Danny Akker, Geoffrey Williams, Bruce McCullough, Zoe Turner, Clunie Walker, John Wesley, Tim Swampy and Bill Bachman. © 2019. All rights reserved.
About Clunie Walker
'History in my family is, ironically, genetic. My mother, Lily Hayes’ passion for British history, my brother Ian Walker’s fascination with ancient mathematics, and my late cousin Dr John Samuels – archaeologist, archaeology in law consultant and advisor to developments including The Stonehenge Project and The Channel Tunnel. We all have that inclination to dig further, to investigate, to discover the truth of the past.
I like to focus my passion closer to home with local history, and The Forgotten Factory is a prime example of my enthusiasm for history on my doorstep. Local history adds an extra layer to our everyday life – creating a bond with the environment that soon, undeniably, beckons your soul.'
Image courtesy Anseh Sh. © 2019. All rights reserved.
Geoffrey Williams, Bruce McCullough, Carol McCullough, Tobias Nash, Local History Assistant Port Phillip Library Service, Nan, Sally, John Rodd and family, Elizabeth Scammell, Anthony Stutterd, Rodd-Perry, David Walker, Geoffrey Oliver, Kelvin McCahon, Maurice Henry Jones,
Billie Low, Jeffrey Deslandes and family, Brian Goldberg, Anthony Elrington, Dianne Nickel, Sabina Reynolds, Carol Robinson – Gemtation Jewellery, Sue Kiss Von Soly – Jeweller and Watchmaker, Michelle Harrington, TWISK, Eventfinda, Tim Swampy – St.Kilda Images and Stories, OnlyMelbourne, Neil Morrall, Peter Jones, Julie Smith, Peta Hanrahan.