George Coppin - Entrepreneur Extraordinaire in Colonial Victoria.

17th October, 2017

Bob Slater from Rotary Club of Kew presented a talk to the club on the Life and Times of George Coppin.

George Coppin was one of the great characters of 19th Century Victoria.

His first love was the Stage, and he was proud to describe himself as a Comedian. But he was much, much more than that.

In all respects he was an entrepreneur, and he displayed this characteristic as a politician (both colonial and municipal government), in sport, in the arts, in entertainment, in Freemasonry, and in philanthropy.

It was a game of Heads and Tails (toss of a coin) that led George and his wife to immigrate from England to Australia rather than destination USA (arriving in 1843) but one that meant that this colourful character would lend his lasting legacy to Australia to the arts (Theatre), Sport (Cricket and Football), Politics and Business

As a Theatrical Manager, Politician and Grand Master of the Grand Lodge of Victoria in 1883 (before the formation of the United Grand Lodge Of Victoria in 1889), George was also a successful and unsuccessful business man going through many peaks and troughs during his life.

George is credited for many things during his life including managing theatre companies, campaigning for a post office Savings bank, becoming director of the Commercial Bank of Australia (now part of Westpac) and the launching of the first balloon flight in Australia on 1st Feb, 1858, from Richmond to Brunswick. (The launch site was the Coppin Gardens, only a small amount of which remains today - Charles Evans Reserve - next to the South Eastern Freeway and near the Sportsgirl Head Office.

Bob Slater is a member of the Rotary Club of Kew and a former CEO of the Old Colonists Association, an organisation formed by George Coppin in 1869 so well knowledgeable in the achievements of George during his lifetime.  He also presented a vision of creating a statue in honour of George Coppin, suggested to be located in front of the Victorian Arts Center. The aim is to have this installed in the 200th Anniversary of George's birth (8th April, 2019.)

If you are interested in becoming a part of a project team to help bring about this vision, please contact:

Stuart McArthur, Rotary Club of Southbank stuart.mcarthur@rotary.to

Bob Slater, Rotary Club of Kew.

For more info, here are some of the links where I sourced this information:

George Coppin - Wikipedia

George Selth Coppin, Comic Actor & Entrepreneur (1819-1906) - Museums Collection Victoria

Location of the launch of the First Balloon Flight in Australia - Google Maps

Cremorne Gardens and now Charles Evans Reserve - Wikipedia

Bob Slater speaks to the Rotary Club of Carlton

Bob Slater speaks to the Rotary Club of Hawthorn

Her Majesty's Theatre


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