A BRIEF HISTORY
In 1884 shipping businesses James Deane and Co, Melbourne Coal Co and Hobson’s Floating Dock Co were sold to a private company directed by Hugh R Reid, Captain James Deane and Captain James McIntyre, and managed by D York Syme, establishing the Melbourne Coal, Shipping and Engineering Co. Reid held many public positions in Melbourne, including the President of the Chamber of Commerce whilst cousins and Port Phillip Sea pilots Deane and McIntyre were well known identities in shipping circles throughout Victoria.
In 1885, a brick building of three floors containing a store and offices was constructed on the subject site by builder James Carlton for the Melbourne Coal, Shipping and Engineering Co, and dubbed the ‘Shipping Exchange’ in Sands and McDougall street directories from c1892. Fire damaged the building in 1888, burning the roof and destroying the top storey and the entire contents of the building. This destruction, coupled with severe water damage to the other levels, resulted in the structure’s complete rebuilding the following year.
The three-storey building plus basement that now houses 25 King Collective and Excelon Group was erected on the site in 1889 to the design of architect Frederick Williams. In 1895 the Melbourne Coal, Shipping and Engineering Co was renamed for the last time, registering as the Melbourne Steamship Co. Until 1909 the firm operated from the ground floor of the building and Reid, Deane and McIntyre occupied offices on the first level, with the executors of Deane’s estate taking up his office from his death in 1900. Other tenants during this time included champagne and wine manufacturers, printing goods importer and oil and general merchants, among others.
By 1910 the Melbourne Steamship Co had expanded its offices to occupy all three floors of the building and by 1913 had vacated the premises at 25 King Street and re-established itself in a new building at 27-31 King Street next door. The company survived in these new premises into the 1960s, until the sale of its biggest and most well-known ship, Duntroon.
by Benjamin Tankard
The Art Commission
Australian artist Benjamin Tankard was commissioned to create a series of 9 paintings of steamships that were once operated by the Melbourne Steamship Company. Each one painted in sepia, this series is a nostalgic link to the building’s maritime history.
The artworks adorn the walls of the Collective’s boardroom, meeting room and each of the studio suites.