The Eastgate name and its association with the furniture Industry dates back to the early 1900’s when Harold Eastgate commenced his employment as a young teenager with a local furniture manufacturer.
Documentation found to date indicates that after a time in the industry Harold Eastgate commenced business in partnership with Arthur Jelliffe. The partnership between Harold Eastgate and Arthur Jelliffe continued for an unknown number of years before being dissolved. In 1919 Harold Eastgate began manufacturing furniture under his own name in premises located at Weltham Street, Flemington.
The business was incorporated under the name H Eastgate Pty Ltd Shareholders â Harold Eastgate, Grace Eastgate (wife). The business also used the trading name Eastgate Productions which was later, (1951) incorporated, and used in conjunction with the name H Eastgate Pty Ltd. The business rapidly expanded, necessitating the purchase of a property at 131 Brunswick Road, East Brunswick.
These premises were destroyed by fire in October, 1929. Then on 24/12/1929 progress ever being the motto of Eastgate The Salford Investments Pty Ltd was incorporated to purchase land at 509 Albion Street, Brunswick. Shareholders â Harold Eastgate, Grace Eastgate (wife). In the following months a building, the most up-to-date of its kind, was erected on an area of 1 _ acres, which all and sundry considered much to large at the time, as the depression period (1927-1932), had just been entered upon. The property was expanded in latter years and ultimately occupied 4 acres of land with buildings in excess of 160,000 square feet, making it one of the largest furniture manufacturing operations in Australia at that time.
1927-1932 Depression Years
From 1921 to 1927 there was a period of progressive development in furniture manufacturing throughout the Commonwealth, but after 1927 a decline commenced and this continued steadily until 1932, when the full effects of the depression were felt and the value of output fell away almost to one-third of that of the most prosperous year, 1927.
Jack M Eastgate joined his uncle Harold’s business and completed his trade as a cabinetmaker. Apart from a period of overseas service during the war, Jack remained an employee and was ultimately rewarded by his uncle for his loyalty when inheriting the business in 1964.
1939-1945 SECOND WORLD WAR
H. Eastgate Pty Ltd and The Prestige Furniture Co Pty Ltd continued producing furniture during this period, as well as providing assistance with the war effort by producing, among other things, ammunition boxes for the armed forces.
This period marks the beginning of the television era. The Prestige Furniture Co Pty Ltd and to a lesser extent Eastgate Productions Pty Ltd began producing television/ stereo Cabinets for local and overseas companies, notably Thorn, Healing and Sanyo. This became a major part of The Prestige Furniture Co Pty Ltd business until the mid 1970âs when all contracts terminated.
DEATH OF HAROLD EASTGATE (aged 68 years). A charismatic character well known and liked throughout the Melbourne business, social and horse racing fraternity. Died Of cancer after a period of ill health.
Circa 1967 – 1968
Christmas 1967 saw the final closure of H Eastgate Pty Ltd and Eastgate Productions Pty Ltd furniture manufacturing operations at Albion Street Brunswick. Prestige Holdings Pty Ltd acquired property at 49-53 Plateau Road Reservoir and relocated The Prestige Furniture Co Pty Ltd television/ stereo manufacturing business to there.
The furniture business of Schotchmere Furniture Pty Ltd, previously located in Scotchmere Street Nth Fitzroy and then in Weston Street Brunswick was acquired by The Eastgate Prestige Furniture Co Pty Ltd. The company then began producing the Queen Anne furniture previously being made by Schotchmere Furniture Pty Ltd.
Adrian O Ranson accepted the offer to purchase shares in The Eastgate Prestige Furniture Co Pty Ltd and commenced full time employment as General Manager/Financial Controller.
The company faced one of the toughest periods in its history when it experienced an 18 month period of recession. During this time orders dried up and the business, along with many other similar businesses who were fortunate enough to survive., was forced to operate on a four day basis until times returned to normal.
In 1995 , after recovering from the early 1990’s recession, the country became awash with cheap imported Queen Anne furniture from Indonesia and other overseas countries. At this point the company began to focus more on the prestige end of the market. Bedroom furniture became the main focus of attention, with an emphasis on the use of more solid timbers. The change required a major update of equipment. Acquisitions of modern high tech computer controlled machines from Italy and Germany were an essential requirement to ensure the future survival of the company.
DEATH OF JACK MONTAGUE EASTGATE (aged 79 years). Jack M Eastgate was not unlike his uncle Harold, displaying an air of confidence at all times and an unsatisfiable love and passion for all things to do with the thoroughbred horse racing industry throughout Victoria and Australia. He made many friends and gave generously of his time and money to that cause.
In 2001 the name of the company was simplified toEastgate Furniture Pty Ltd and has continued on under that name to the current date. The current times have again provided a new challenge for the industry with government tarifs now being totally removed and the influx of imported product from China and other similar low cost countries.
A skilled and committed group of employees combined with modern equipment, up to date knowledge of our market, customer needs, a strong focus on quality Australian made product and a guarantee of service to the discerning customer are again essential to the survival of the company.
Whilst there are no Eastgates actively involved in the business at present their legacy remains strong and will live on as part of the company’s rich and proud history.