By Narelle Coulter
When fire damaged two buildings in Lonsdale Street in September the flames revealed hidden sections of Dandenong’s history.
The fire peeled away modern hoardings, revealing the hand-painted signs on the original brickwork advertising the former tenants of the two old buildings – Judd’s Men’s Wear and Finlayson’s Pharmacy.
According to records compiled by the Dandenong and District Historical Society, 277 Lonsdale Street was first occupied in 1870 by William Thomson who ran a newsagent. In 1912 it became a watchmakers and in the 1920s a drapery owned by PH Tullett.
George Judd took over the building in 1932 opening Judd’s Men’s Wear. The Judd family later ran an electrical store there.
Number 275 Lonsdale Street was first occupied in 1870 by storekeeper S. Smithson. In 1912 it became Couves Pharmacy. It remained a pharmacy under numerous different owners until the 1960s.
On Wednesday 25 June 1952 the Dandenong Journal reported that Mr Finlayson had sold his business.
“After having successfully conducted his well-known Lonsdale St. Pharmacy for approximately 20 years, Mr. A. G. (Bert) Finlayson has disposed of his business to Mr. Charles McKeon, of Beaumaris, an ex-Serviceman, who has previously conducted successful pharmacies at Wyong (N.S.W.) and Elsternwick.
“Mr. McKeon takes over on July 1st, and as a young businessman will receive a cordial welcome.
“He intends to take up his residence here as soon as possible.
“After a long and successful business career Mr. Finlayson intends to go into well-earned retirement and take things easy.
“The many friends of Bert and his wife will be pleased to know that they intend to continue to live in Dandenong.
“Next Saturday they will leave on a 3-weeks’ trip to Cairns – and may they strike better weather than we’ve been having here!”
In 1946 the Journal reported on a dramatic incident at Mr Judd’s store when a thief “dashed through closed glass doors in a bid to escape”.
According to the paper’s court reporter “while serving another customer in Mr. G. F. Judd’s shop, Mr. Les Judd saw a man slip a suit-length into his kitbag.
“When taxed with the theft the thief dashed straight through a closed glass door in an effort to escape, but was grabbed and detained until the arrival of the police.
“The accused John Ernest Williams was charged with stealing a 3½ yards grey suit-length valued at £3/10/-, the property of G. F. Judd, of Dandenong.”
The accused was found guilty and paid a £15 fine.