Spring has sprung

Spring has sprung
Roses at the Cottage

Thursday, 20 September 2012

The Skipping Girl Sign

I skipped along Victoria Street (often called little Vietnam) to the corner of Burnley Street (Victoria Gardens Shopping Centre) to photograph Melbourne's oldest neon sky sign. (I wrote earlier about the Pelaco Sign)  
Daytime 'Little Audrey'
'Little Audrey' stars in this first animated neon advertising sign in Australia. She was first turned on (!) in 1938 and is now heritage listed. Advertising early 20th century Skipping Girl Vinegar (was the company bought out by a multi-national or has imported vinegar replaced it? I can't find the answer - do you know?) she's been through her ups and downs - loved and unloved - but she's resiliant and won't go away - thank goodness. The original sign was sold by the wreckers in 1968 to a used car dealership (oh how the mighty fall!) but in 1970 a smaller version of 'Little Audrey' was created. There are many theories about who 'Little Audrey' was - from a child who became a nun or the one I like better - the daughter of the local milk bar owner (almost extinct themselves). 
Nightime 'Little Audrey'
Survival looked grim in 2008 until a 'Help Audrey Skip Again' campaign co-ordinated by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria), the Heritage Council of Victoria and the Melbourne Restoration Fund ensured that Little Audrey will skip on. She once again underwent 'structural repairs (a face lift!) and significant work has been done on her electrics and neon tubing.' The mind boggles. I could do with a little of that. I'm pleased to say that she now runs on solar power in her 75th year (perhaps we can all wear a solar panel on our heads as we age!). And so she has graced our skyline since 2009 and long may she skip.

Ikea and 'Little Audrey' competing for air space
She's currently easy to spy but that may change with the amount of development going on around her. (here I go again on my hobby horse) 

Does a sign become iconic when you come upon cushions and prints in fashionable boutiques? Or when you have your own website?

Or when you see her as part of the mural on Richmond which I wrote about earlier in Our history on a wall

I think it's just a confirmation that we treasure part of our history. After all she has been part of many of our lives in some small way and her simple design has become part of the fabric of our city. So stop by when you're in the area. Take the children in the evening to see her when she's lit up. Long may 'Little Audrey' skip on our skyline.

Do you have a 'Little Audrey' memory?

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