#12 Oriental Bank And Allchin’s Store Audio Script

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DW The Oriental Bank Corporation was established in London in 1851. It was a large organisation with branches in Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India, Ceylon, Hong Kong, Mauritius and Malaya.The first Australian branches opened in Melbourne and Sydney in 1852. Poor management and a deterioration in economic conditions eventually forced the bank to close in 1892.
We asked Janet Groves about her grandfather’s important contribution to the early development of Mornington
JG My grandfather Thomas Cogger Allchin finished the construction of this bank in 1875 and leased it to the Oriental Bank until it wound up. He then leased it to the Colonial Bank of Australasia, who subsequently moved diagonally across the road when they purchased the larger Commercial Bank building. In the 1920s, it became Point Furnishing Store, which later became Point Hardware.
Thomas Allchin was one of Mornington’s most prominent and successful pioneers and he built many of the earliest commercial buildings, including the Tanti Hotel and the schoolhouse. He was a carpen- ter by trade and had his own clay pit and brick works on his Sutton Grange estate.
DW and what about his own home?
JG Thomas built his first house for his new wife Sarah, which was really only a shack with no doors or windows. Sarah arrived in Mornington by bullock wagon and had to sleep on the floor as there was hardly any furniture. He then built a more substantial cottage before he finally built the mansion Sutton Grange on Tanti Avenue about twenty years later. The Allchins had two sailing vessels the Gov- ernor La Trobe and Maggie for taking and bringing goods for sale. He built the tower at Sutton Grange so he could watch for the arrival of his boats with their cargo. They supplied wooden piers for the Geelong jetty and transported wood to Melbourne, returning with goods for the store.
He started on his store in 1860. This was originally just two rooms, but it was extended over time to become this rather elegant two storey building.
DW Sarah Allchin seems to have had a pretty good head for business?
JG Indeed. She ran the store and added to the stock by purchasing fabrics and sewing some fine clothing. She did however a lucky break in the early days. A friendly miller advised her to buy a ton of flour instead of the 3 bags that she had money for. He told her there was going to be what he mys- teriously referred to as a ‘combination in the trade’ and that she could pay him later. The next day flour doubled in price – a good start for the store!
Sarah was a very religious woman and founded a temperance organisation The Band of Hope, for Mornington boys and girls at Sutton Grange.
The youngest son of Thomas and Sarah, Charles Allchin, was one of the 15 drowned in the Morning- ton Football Disaster in 1892.
DW The store was one of a number of large general stores in Mornington in the early days. It was run over the ensuing years by a variety of Mornington families, the Nunns, Higgs and the Croaghs famous delicatessen among them. Mrs. Croagh relates that there was no running water until the 1930s and many stores relied on well water. In the hot weather the Croaghs used to keep their deli- catessen products cool down in the well.
The building was demolished in the 1960s to make way for a new Commonwealth Bank building which in turn was replaced by the current businesses.
Our commentary continues at number 39.

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