Photo reveals thriving skin trade

SKINS: John O’Brien was a skin and wool merchant who traded in the early decades of last century on the corner of Clinton and Auburn streets. Photo: supplied

SKINS: John O’Brien was a skin and wool merchant who traded in the early decades of last century on the corner of Clinton and Auburn streets. Photo: supplied

Skins were once sold in great numbers in the local district, if a photo from the Goulburn Post’s historical calendar for 2017 is anything to go by. 

The month of October features a photo of John O’Brien, Skin and Wool Merchants, a Goulburn business that operated in the early decades of last century on the corner of Clinton and Auburn streets. 

In the photo, the sign reads ‘Cash buyer for skins, hides, tallow, horse’s hair, bones, and other items’.

The cart is laden with skins; a vast quantity of them spilling onto the street.

It makes one wonder if this was an extremely large bounty – thus the photo?

Gordon Thompson, from the Goulburn and District Historical Society, said Mr O’Brien operated his business on the premises between 1904 and 1927.

“G.L. Cooper occupied the building before him,” Mr Thompson said.

“I do not know how long Mr Cooper was there, but I assume he had the same type of business,” he said.

In the Goulburn Evening Penny Post of June 23, 1904, Mr O’Brien advertised: ‘Having started a business in shop corner Auburn and Clinton St, formerly carried on by Mr G.L. Cooper, I beg to advise I am a cash buyer of wool, sheep skins, hides, marsupial skins, horns, bones, rags etc, at the highest market prices.’

He described himself in the ad as the late manager of Towrang Fellmongery (a dealer in hides or skins). 

There is some conjecture as to when the the buildings were constructed.

“An 1882 aerial drawing of Goulburn shows the building on site,” Mr Thompson said.

“The 1941 council rates books showed that Mrs Agnes McGuire paid the rates and the buildings (42-44 Clinton Street) were described as shops.”

The site was cleared before the foundations for the electricity building were started in June 1948.

“The former electricity building still stands is on the south-west corner of Auburn and Clinton streets and is now occupied by Peter Mylonas Real Estate as well as Curves health studio,” Mr Thompson said. 

An obituary for Mr O’Brien, in the Goulburn Evening Penny Post of July 4, 1927, describes him as “widely known throughout the city and district and admired and respected for many acts of kindness and charity”. 

“Mr O’Brien took an active interest in public affairs and was an Alderman of the city for a long period,” it reads.

“He was also a prominent member of the Catholic Church and interested himself especially in that church’s efforts on behalf of the sick and needy.”

Mr O’Brien was a native of Ireland who came to Goulburn in 1901 as the manager of Wheatley’s Wool Scour at Towrang.

Smartphone
Tablet - Narrow
Tablet - Wide
Desktop