The things you see in Rundle Mall

It’s been Christmas here of course. And in case that time of year isn’t busy enough, it also coincides with end of school year graduations, suppers, dinners, etc. Just as well I am a social being.

Anyways … one of the graduation events for my boys took place in the Richmond Hotel in Rundle Mall, a prime shopping spot in the heart of Adelaide. On that evening, the Smiggle shop was getting a makeover, in the form of a new overhanging verandah. And for a very short time, a section of the original shopfront was exposed.

Haigh's, its cover blown

Haigh’s, its cover blown

Wonder of wonders, a sign for my favourite chocolate – Haigh’s – established in 1915, and the oldest family-owned chocolate maker in Australia. Their chocolate speckles and scorched almonds have got me through many a crisis, and the cinema mixture has something to please everyone. As for the rocky road which is only made from Easter to the end of September – it (and its heat-intolerant marshmallow) heralds the beginning of autumn, a season which I far prefer to the arid Adelaide summer.

As you may have intuited by now, I have given the Haigh’s range a fair go over the years. However, back to the revealed sign. The Smiggle shop is at 134 Rundle Mall, but the history page on the Haigh’s website doesn’t refer to a shop at that location, and a search on Trove doesn’t find any easy reference to it either. However, the opticians is easier to locate. It seems to have been there since the 1930s, and in January 1953, FB Holding & Son advertised for a capable junior to act as receptioniste [sic] for their optician’s rooms at that address (at that stage Rundle St was still a street, it didn’t become a mall until 1976).

A capable junior as receptioniste

A capable junior as receptioniste

In March 1953, a girl, aged 16, working as an optician’s receptionist advertised for board and lodging, giving her contact details as Holding’s at 134 Rundle Street. It may not have worked out for her, however, as Holding’s were advertising for another junior receptionist within the year in January 1954. Perhaps she left before Haigh’s moved in, because who would leave after? In December 1954, Haigh’s advertises its chocolates as ‘The perfect gift! Delicious assorted chocolates or the original chocolate fruits in a wide range of beautiful gift boxes’  – that at least has not changed.

Give Haigh's chocolates this Christmas

Give Haigh’s this Christmas

When we walked by Smiggle again, just over an hour later, the sign was completely covered, and was once again a part of Adelaide’s hidden heritage.

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10 Responses to The things you see in Rundle Mall

  1. Leoni Heffernan says:

    I’m so glad you took a photo of this special part of our Adelaide history before they covered it over again…hidden forever !

  2. Jen says:

    About 4 years ago I went to see an optometrist by the name of Holding in a small street on the eastern side of the old Johnies’ car park. He wasn’t a young man and said that his father had been in practice before him so I suspect that was his father’s shop.

    • sarthure says:

      How interesting. When I was looking around on Trove this evening, I found references to Holdings as far back as the 1930s, including a few announcements where another Holding was entering the business. It looks like it was a family business for quite a few generations – that would be an interesting story.

  3. Kerry Hancock says:

    Wonderful and informative post Susan. Right place ….right time. Amazing!

    • sarthure says:

      It was also interesting to try and find the info about Haighs first and turn up nothing, but then get to it by a combination of the Smiggle’s address and Holdings Opticians – the vagaries of research.

  4. I remember that Haigs shop from my childhood – with great delight! My mother frequently took us there for a treat when we went shopping in the city. It was unusual in that as well as selling chocolates, it offered coffee, cakes, sandwiches, ice cream and Haigs chocolate sauce and most memorably Haigs chocolate thick shakes that were made with so much ice cream that the straw stood upright! Like Haigs chocolates, the food and decor were of a high quality not commonly found in Adelaide. And of course it predated Adelaide’s cafe culture (which arrived with our Greek and Italian migrants) so places like this were not common. I think they may have been referred to as coffee lounges and were more European in style.

    • sarthure says:

      That sounds wonderful, and a Haigh’s chocolate thick shake would definitely have been memorable. Don’t you reckon that there would be a market for a Haigh’s coffee lounge like this again? More versatile than Koko Black, but the same high quality and European-influenced decor.

  5. geniejen3 says:

    Would you mind if I sent a copy of the photo to Leigh Holding in Austin St?

    • sarthure says:

      That would be absolutely fine. Do you want me to send the original to you? It’s just an iphone one, but resolution is ok.

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