Finlay Brothers history site

Elizabeth Street Premises
Preserving the bicycle and
motorcycle heritage of
Finlay Brothers, Elizabeth St
Melbourne, 1900-1961.
"The Argus" article announcing 1941 opening
"The Argus" article announcing 1941 opening

Due to the poor clarity of the digitised copy, the following article was transcribed directly. 
Source: The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956), 24 April, 1941, page 9.

New motor-cycle showroom in Elizabeth Street

Building has fine display facilities

Modern showroom buildings are designed so that ample light, natural and artificial, is available to assist in the display and selling of the goods handled. Work has just been completed on a new building of this type on the north-east corner of Elizabeth and Little Lonsdale Sts for Finlay Bros. Motor-cycles Pty. Ltd. It offers excellent facilities for the display of motor-cycles, bicycles,
and accessories.

The building has a frontage of 80ft to Elizabeth St and a depth of 60ft along Little Lonsdale St, and replaces some of Melbourne’s oldest two-story shop properties. The most northern portion of the site, No. 322 was bought about 30 years ago at £100 a foot. The old buildings on the corner of the site changed hands several times in the last 15 years. At one stage a price equal to £750 a foot was paid. The new building and land now represent a capital investment of £50 000.

Finlay Bros have been in Elizabeth St for nearly 40 years. In 1903 Mr A.D. Finlay, the present managing director opened a business for the manufacture and sale of pedal cycles. Later in 1908, Australian-made motor-cycles with English engines were produced. In 1913 the firm became associated with the marketing of B.S.A. motor-cycles and shortly after the extensive factory and service station at the rear of the new building was secured.


The new showroom has three floors, and has been designed so that floors can be added with minimum of trouble. The elevations have been treated in a simple horizontal manner and faced with light pink bricks. Cream bricks have been used for the piers between the windows and for the window sills. The canopy carried as a continuous line at the head of the windows is finished in cream cement. This simple feature plays an important part in the appearance of the building.

A bold treatment has been adopted for the comer of the building, because it can be seen from the southern end of Elizabeth St. The comer has been rounded and over the upper windows 6ft deep metal letters B.S.A., have been set between vertical brick vanes. The name Finlay Bros. is in similar metal letters of smaller scale. This work was carried out by Metallic Feature Co.


Modern show windows are featured on both fronts. On the corner there is a curved glass window, the largest that has been bent in Australia. The owners have 48ft of window to Elizabeth St, and the tenants Brylaw Motors Pty. Ltd. 33ft. The Elizabeth St show windows have been set at an angle to give a natural lead-in to the entrance doors, and also to help eliminate reflection.

The new fluted or reeded glass, fixed horizontally, has been used for the top hampers of the windows. Cream tiles have been used for the window surrounds. The contractor for the shop fronts was Thos. Duff and Bros. Pty. Ltd.

The corner showroom occupied by Finlay Bros. has cream sand-finished walls. The beams supporting the concrete floor above are boxed in fibrous plaster work, and a simple flat ceiling of the same material fixed. Lighting to the showroom and display windows is from serial louvred light fittings set in flush with the ceiling. These fittings give an even distribution of a direct down light over the whole floor. In the corner display section of the floor Mercury vapour lamps have been used with good effect.


The fibrous plaster ceilings, which were supplied by G. N. Hendy, have been painted a pale blue to eliminate any reflected lighting glare.

Showroom counters have been specially designed for the display of small accessories. They are in walnut veneered plywood, with glass showcases let into portion of the top and fronts.

The entrance lobby to the upper floors is in Little Lonsdale St. The staircase is in concrete and the walls are of oatmeal-coloured face bricks finished with clean joints. A feature here is the tall corner window built up in glass bricks as a section of the wall.

The first floor is used for offices, a showroom for used motor-cycles, and a spare parts department. It is connected by a bridge with an existing store across the rear lane. Steel shelving and bins are being installed here to carry the stock of many small motor-cycle parts.


Office partitions are mainly glass and masonite sheets. Heating is by gas air circulation units placed at suitable points.

Over the concrete floors in the offices and showrooms linotol flooring in a light brown colour has been laid. This material, which was supplied by Modern Plastic Products Pty. Ltd., gives warmth and quietness to the floors.

The top floor has been planned for use as a workroom. The roof is carried on steel trusses spanning the full width of the building. This arrangement has left the floor free of columns. Corrugated asbestos cement sheets have been used for roof covering, and flat sheets of the same material for lining the underside.

The architect for the work was Mr. C. Stewart Russell, Collins St., and the builder was Clements Langford Pty. Ltd., Richmond.

Elizabeth Street Premises