Martin & Pleasance, History

  • Date Established:
  • State:
  • Suburb/Town:
  • Variations on Business Name:
    Kidner & Gould, Homœopathic Chemists
    Gould & Son, Homœopathic Chemists
    Gould & Martin, Homœopathic Chemists
    Martin & Co., Homœopathic Chemists
    Martin & Co., Melbourne Homœopathic Pharmacy

(Material researched & presented by Barbara Armstrong)


Based on information from Martin & Pleasance, plus recent original research by Barbara Armstrong. 

See also articles by Barbara Armstrong:




               Martin & Pleasance Building (completed in 1890)

            Facade detail showing date of establishment as 1860             

                       Photo courtesy of Peter Torokfalvy

The origins of Martin and Pleasance date from late May 1860 (not 1855 as published elsewhere).  The pharmacy could not have been established in 1855 because Mr Kidner, the original owner of the pharmacy, did not arrive in Australia until 1857, and he did not arrive in Melbourne until around February 1858. 


In May 1860 Mr Kidner announced that he was going to establish a homœopathic pharmacy in Collins Street, and that he was entering into a partnership with Mr Edward G. Gould.  Mr Gould was formerly a dispenser at the London Homœopathic Hospital, and had  just arrived in Melbourne from England. According to the shipping records, at that time Gould was aged 19.


The homœopathic pharmacy was named “Kidner and Gould”, and was originally located at 102 Collins Street East (from May 1860), after which they moved to 90 Collins Street East (from October 1860).


After Mr Kidner moved to Adelaide later in 1860, Mr Edward Gardiner Gould became the sole owner of the pharmacy. In mid-1861 it was realised that Mr Kidner was not going to return to Melbourne, so the business was advertised under the name Edward G. Gould. Eventually he renamed it “Gould and Son”.


Recent research has proved that Edward Gardiner Gould was one of the sons of the Edward Gould who established Edward Gould & Son at 32 Moorgate Street in London. Dr James Emery Gould, who also came to Australia, was another son. The English Census records imply that the English pharmacy was established some time between 1851 (when Edward senior was listed as a porter) and 1861 (when Edward senior was listed as a homœopathic chemist). The London business went on to publish several books on homœopathy.


In 1863 Edward Gardiner Gould also opened a homœopathic pharmacy in Geelong.


In 1864 Mr Richard Joseph Henry Martin joined the business, and as a result in 1868 it was renamed “Gould and Martin”. Gould was recorded as being in London during 1871 and 1872, but during 1873 his private residence was 7 Eden Terrace, Dalgety Street, St Kilda.



                      An advertisement in 1873

An 1873 advertisement states:


“Gould & Martin, wholesale and retail Homœopathic Chemists” and “Established in 1860”.


The firm of Gould & Martin advertised in country areas, an example being in the Portland Guardian and Express during February and March 1874. In this advertisement they stated:


“Gould & Martin, having been asked at various times for imported medicines, take this opportunity of stating that they have never kept them nor will they sell any but those prepared on their premises as they can rest assured of their purity and correctness, nor will they be answerable for any medicine not bearing the label of G&M.”



                                                   Melbourne Town Hall

                             (Martin & Pleasance building on far right of picture)

                                                             Source:  Postcard c. 1906


Edward Gould returned to Europe, where he studied medicine in Ireland, and then practised medicine in several locations in England. He left Mr Martin as the sole proprietor.

In 1874 and 1881 the business was named “Martin & Co., Melbourne Homœopathic Pharmacy”.


During 1877 Martin & Co. established a branch at Pitt Street in Sydney, but it appears that this was unsuccessful, as there wasn’t an entry in the Sydney directory for 1879.



                                             View looking West down Collins Street

                                 (Martin & Pleasance building on right side of picture)

                                                                         Source:  Postcard c. 1906

Around June 1877 the business moved to new premises across the road at number 85, next to the Baptist Church. Originally the shop was located as part of a very old existing two-storey building.


Charles Pleasance, born in 1850, came to Australia from England in 1855. He studied chemistry and was articled to “Gould and Martin” before becoming one of the owners. He became partners with Mr Martin in 1878, although the business continued to be listed in the directories as “Martin & Co” until 1883, at which time the entries in the directories were changed to “Martin and Pleasance”.


In 1878 a subsidiary of Martin & Co. was established at 81 Chapel Street, Prahran, which subsequently was run independently by George Pleasance.


The 1884 edition of Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory recorded that at that time RJH Martin lived at Harcourt Street, Hawthorn. Charles Pleasance lived at Kensington Road, South Yarra.


In 1886 Charles Pleasance became the sole owner of “Martin and Pleasance”. Mr Martin moved to Perth and ran Martin & Co. there.


Along with “Poulton & Son”, Martin and Pleasance supplied the Melbourne Homœopathic Hospital with its remedies, although other homœopathic chemists also had successful tenders (see Seelenmeyer).


During 1890 the old building was replaced by the current larger building, which was called the “Pleasance Building”. The 1892 edition of Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory listed the pharmacy at Collins Street (with the same address re-numbered from 85 Collins Street East to 180 Collins Street) and the phone number of Tel. No. 1659.  From 1892-1898 there was also a branch of the Martin and Pleasance pharmacy at what is now numbered 453 Burwood Road, Hawthorn on the corner of John Street.  The property is now owned by Swinburne University which has retained the facade of the terrace of shops.  They have also preserved a 'ghost sign' on the side of the building which advertises Dr Henry Wheeler.



           The new Martin & Pleasance building 1890

                           Etching from an article featured

              in the Australasian Journal of Pharmacy, 1890


With the financial crash of the 1890s many businesses went bankrupt, and Mr Pleasance became a tenant of the building. In 1904 the building was renamed the Edwards building. However, Martin & Pleasance continued to operate from the same location.  


Charles Pleasance was elected third Lord Mayor of Melbourne from 1904-1905.


                              Martin & Pleasance building in 2008

The building behind the tree (to the left of the white-columned Baptist Church on far right), is the second site occupied by Kidner & Gould, now called Martin & Pleasance.  The pharmacy moved there during the 1870s. 


This building is at 176-180 Collins Street, but was originally numbered 85-89 Collins Street East. (The original site of the pharmacy was across the road, opposite the Church).

                                     Photo courtesy of Peter Torokfalvy



The son of Charles Pleasance, Frederick, continued to run the family business after Charles. Succeeding Frederick were the brothers Charles and Phillip Pleasance.


The company still operates, although it is no longer owned by the Pleasance family, and the business no longer operates from Collins Street.



©   Barbara Armstrong     




  • Created:
    Wednesday, 17 June 2009
  • Last modified:
    Saturday, 01 July 2017