• Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • Looking up and down Federal Street Rainbow in the early 1900s.

Last Updated on May 6, 2021

Looking up and down Federal Street Rainbow in the early 1900s.

Many Rainbow Nuggets in this archive. Plenty of great colorisations and a few that just made the grade but are of historical significance.


Click on any image to see a bigger size. Right click on a PC, or hold the image on a phone, and you will presented with a new menu that will allow you to make further use of the image, such as grabbing a copy.

Image 1

I chased this photo around in circles for months, and finally settled on a suitable description.

RAINBOW OF TO-DAY. 1910 page 9, gives an incorrect description:
Another good view, showing the Rainbow Manufacturing Co.'s commodious and well equipped general store. But Dawson's Rainbow Manufacturing Co. was in Railway St, round about where Ron Ismay's business is now.

Stan Fisher gives it as Federal St 1912, in his Autobiography "Team Work" but only the year is wrong. As Stan was only 2 years and four months old when the buildings burnt down, I'll accept that he was mid-guided with the year.

To the best of my ability and with the information I have been able to gather up, my description is given at the link below:

Image 2

Federal st Rainbow. Cust (Stevenson) and Dart stores late 1920s to early 1930s. (Mecca was being built in 1935) A mixture of horse and cart as well as Rag top Automobiles.

Image 3

Mal Drendel
That would be where "Strauss Bros" Holden dealership was. GREAT photo.

That Fleet of cars at Strauss's Garage 1926.
What are they?

This vehicle ID took me about 3 months of part time Googling, but I was determined to find it. A large percentage of vehicles in the world during these years, was made up of Ford, followed by Chevrolet and derivatives, but I knew it was none of these.

The distinctive inverted "V" shape along the bottom of the windscreen was the best clue, but it also made it very hard to find. I found Wolsley, Riley, and Cubitt (very rare) with this feature, but none of them matched in with the Federal St vehicles in the old photo.

Then I came across the Fiat. Fiat selling in Rainbow in 1926 I hear you say! Well if the very first car in Rainbow came all the way from Belgium in 1910, then why not an Italian car in 1926? There were many models of the Fiat in 1926. Different body shapes, different engines, and very different add on parts. Some of these add on parts may have been fitted on the Australian Models, and some may have been left off.

Try Googling "Fiat car 1926", then click on images. You will see many with the inverted "V" windscreen and a grill that looks very much like a "T Model Ford" unit.

 Note*** During WWI. Italians and Japanese were our allies. That all changed for WWII.  Japanese firm Isuzu was building British Wolseley cars from 1918, which was the first car ever produced in Japan. By 1929 the Japanese were producing their own.

Other Victorian dealers such as Les Hare Garage & Engineering Works, Morwell, Victoria were selling Fiat cars in the mid -1920s.

Fiat 509 Torpedo1926

Image 4

This is one of my favorite photos of the Federal Street Group. As I cranked up the colour, the "Yellow Brick Road" appeared and revealed so much infinite detail. The three rows of teams moving up and down the street. The triangular timber tree guard damaged by one of the team no doubt. The flow of the dip in the street passing over King Street, and all the way down to the house on the corner of Darts Avenue and Taverner street that you all know so well. It is still there.

Still searching for a Facebook thread on this one.

Image 5

Bullock Team Federal Street Rainbow 1905

Here is a bullock team. Could even be Cheryl's Grandfather "Happy Jack Hutchins". 

Rainbow's coffee palace is the first building on the left of the image. Also used to house train travelers. Pulled down about 1924.

This photo is taken from near the Commonwealth Hotel in Federal St, and at the back of the wagon, you can see the Saddlers on the corner of Federal and King St.

It shows firstly the Coffee Palace on the corner of Railway and Federal St, then the Cust buildings, which comprise The Argus, Kendall the Chemist, Cust and Co, Butter factory Lane, and then the Dart buildings which includes McDonald and Merrittt.

The wagon masks out what is today the two stone buildings of Thomas, and Dunn, as well as the Post Office.

The Argus moved next to where the Vogue is today, and the Chemist moved into the new Cust brick buildings.

All of the Cust and Dart buildings were fully rebuilt by October 2010, and all in brick or stone.

All of the new Dart buildings from Butter Factory Lane, to the Post Office, still stand today (four shops), and three of the Cust buildings at 3, 5, and 7 Federal St are still standing.

The new Cust buildings were taken over by Alfred Stevenson when they were rebuilt. At some point the main Stevenson (Cust) buildings vanished and the Mecca was built in their place.

Image 6

A.G. Strauss General Merchants. Federal Street Rainbow.

Still searching for a Facebook thread on this one.

Image 7

A.G. Strauss General Merchants, National Bank, Eureka Hotel (single story) Rainbow. Postcard 1907.

Note the height of the trees.

Image 8

Leanne Purdy South

Not sure if you have seen this one before, but I found it whilst looking for something else.

Description Of Content: Two barbers in the doorway of 'W, Bandel, Hairdresser'. Acquisition Information: Copied from Russell Hall, 1986 Acknowledgement: The Biggest Family Album of Australia, Museum Victoria

One of the flags in the window appears to be Japanese, which means it was during WWI when Japan was one of the allied powers (friends of ours), along with Italy. 🙂All of that changed during WWII.

Image 9

Fine general view of "Cust's Buildings," Rainbow.
This runs from Butter Factory Lane on the right, through to what I called shop 1 in previous posts.  It is actually shop 1 today, if you count from Norm Mathews shed back down Federal St. The Oyster Bar can be clearly seen as shop 3.

Above Stevenson's store, you can see a large set of what looks like a raised ceiling and sky light openings. This above roof structure can be seen in many early photographs. It is about where the Mecca is today. I believe shops 1, 2, and 3, are actually 5, 7, and 9 Federal St Rainbow. I feel the best way to identify these old buildings is to use the current correct post office addresses. So the Oyster Bar was at 9 Federal St Rainbow.

Image 10

Federal St. Rainbow. Mecca 1940s.

Still searching for a Facebook thread on this one.

Image 11

Federal Street 1920-30s ?
Looking towards Eureka Hotel from around the front of the Mecca.

Still searching for a Facebook thread on this one.

Image 12

Mal Drendel:
Going through my grandparents photos and I found this one. I thought, "Crikey, this looks like Rainbow". Got out my "1910 Rainbow book" to check for any similarities and the photo is in the book! I don't know if it's been posted before but here it is.

Cust sold it to Stevenson around the time he decided to leave town. Mind you, this is a far better quality photo than the one I have, so I'll store it away. You can see more details such as the reflection of the shops opposite in the windows, and see the line of prams outside the shop?

It is 3 to 15 Federal St. Stevenson' shops were replaced by the Mecca.

Here are 3, 5, and 7 Federal St, which still exist.

Image 13

A view looking from around the old Rainbow Cafe towards King and Federal Street.

Still searching for a Facebook thread on this one.

Image 14

I know someone will ask, "Where was this?" I have no real idea, but again at a guess, based on 1910 photos of the location of other buildings of the day, King and Federal Streets. I am thinking with the lay of the land, and the building seen up the side street, that could well be the back of the Eureka hotel in King St. Yes, there are two businesses in the one building on the corner, a bicycle shop and a Greengrocer and Fruiterer. Again in what I have called "Wild West Facade" shop fronts.

From the booklet "RAINBOW OF TO-DAY. 1910"

Compiled and Published by J. EDWARD ROBERTSON. OCTOBER, 1910.

Mr. R.H. GRAY, Fruiterer and News Agent, Stationer, etc. Mr. R.H. Gray has been established in Rainbow some 3 years, and conducts in a most creditable manner a large and flourishing fruit, vegetable, and news agency business; also, he holds several agencies. His commodious premises are in Federal-street, and one portion is always well stocked with vegetables, fruits, etc., which are obtained from various markets three times each week. The other department is devoted en the news agency and stationery, and Mr. Gray is sub-agent for the " Weekly Times," " Herald," and " S.A. Chronicle."

Image 15

It isn't hard to pick where the Saddlers were located. You can pick the shop on the left hand side of it very easily. See picture below.

From the booklet "RAINBOW OF TO-DAY. 1910"

Compiled and Published by J. EDWARD ROBERTSON. OCTOBER, 1910.
Messrs. W. & T. Livingston, Saddlery and Harness Manufacturers, Federal Street, Rainbow. 

Messrs. W. and T. Livingston's saddlery and harness establishment has enjoyed gradually increasing prosperity during the past five years, and today it is a very up-to-date business in every respect, employing a large number of competent workmen; in fact, a few years ago only one hand was employed today there are six.

Image 16

Federal St Rainbow 1911

I think this photo was on the Vic library site. There would have been two sets of pole systems, one for power (32VDC) and one for telephones. In other photos, you can see the telephone lines on a pole right outside the post office, that has many insulators installed, so my guess is that this is the butter factory power distribution that went straight down the centre of Federal street.

However it is an important clue to the age of many other photos, as you can see the height of the trees, and the installation of the electric power distribution.

I have placed a second Facebook thread here, as there is more info on the 32VDC power system. And I know I have the years of operations logged somewhere. I just have to find them.

Image 17

Farrall's Garage corner of King and Federal Street Rainbow. Not a good original shot and not a good conversion, but worthy of storing it here.

Still searching for a Facebook thread on this one.

Image 18

Bullock Teams. King and Federal Streets.
Was a hard conversion. I think the photographer had a camera dipped in tar.
Year? Tree heights = 1909-1910?

{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}