22nd December 2023

Department of Commerce of USA, Special Consular report


In 1916 this report was released for the benefit of American manufacturers, giving them information about potential markets around the world. It included a list of Australian dealers and importers, “dry goods” stores and clothing factories . One of these were Denniston & Co, Flinders Lane.

 Denniston & Co,  91-93, 95-101 Flinders Lane.

The Age (Melbourne), 19th December 1936 page 8.

The firm was established in 1896 by  James Denniston, his sons Henry Brian and Charles Ernest, and Ernest Pearson as ‘Pearson & Co’. to utilise the products of the Doveton Woollen Mills, Ballarat. Henry’s father, James F. Denniston was the manager of the mill, and Pearson a large shareholder. The land boon collapse of 1892 had placed great pressure on finance and business. The mill felt the only way to survive was to be allied with a clothing manufacturer. They were at first located in Lt Lonsdale, then Russell streets, before moving to Flinders Lane in 1907. They had been renamed  ‘Denniston & Co P/L’ in 1905 after the retirement of Mr Pearson.

The Age(Melbourne), 15th August 1905 page 9.

James Denniston died in 1916, aged 72 years. The mills were sold to the Myer Emporium in 1918.

The Herald (Melbourne), 6th May 1930, page 24 . Charles Edward took over management of the mills from his father.

The firm prospered post federation with the removal of interstate custom duties. During WW1 they produced large volumes of military garments.  They bought the Yorkshire Textile Mill in Brunswick in 1925 to source cotton tweeds. In 1930 the firm occupied a large frontage with 2 neighbouring buildings from 91-3 and 95-101 Flinders Lane, producing high quality men’s and boys’ clothing, and women’s tailor-made coats. 

Mr Henry Brian Denniston died in  August 1938, aged 64. He had been born on the way to Australia on the steamer Great Britain in 1874. A disastrous fire destroyed the factory in April of that year, although they temporarily moved to Swanston Street then rebuilt at 95 Flinders Lane, retaining the facade (c.1907) but building a 2 story saw-tooth factory behind this. The firm supplied woollen cloth for the military during WW2. Charles died in 1944.

The Flinders Lane building became a restaurant in the 1986.

Google Street View, 2021. 91-93 is the red brick building at the far left, 95-101 is the restaurant.


In 1911 Solomon Davis, tailor, whose backmark may be seen on uniform buttons (see the tailors page) was charged with stealing cloth from Denniston & Co. He was meant to be supplying Denniston with knickerbockers made from their own cloth made at the Doveton Mill, but was using some of it to make and sell some for his own profit. See http://www.austbuttonhistory.com/branded-buttons/branded-buttons-tailors-buttons-s-z/

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