Vivian Lewis offices, 68 Grenfell Street, Adelaide

According to his obituary, Vivian Lewis came to Adelaide around 1889, aged 24.

He wasted no time in establishing himself among the Adelaide business community, because the 1891 Sands and McDougal Ltd South Australian Directory has an entry for "Lewis and Co., produce merchants" among the tenants of Hunter's Chambers, 68 Grenfell St. Adelaide. Given the publishing timetable it seems most likely that the Vivian Lewis presence in Grenfell Street was established some time in 1890. It continued until 1905.

By 1894, with Lewis's Ormonde Bicycle Depot established on Freeman Street, the alphabetical listing in the Directory gives us a clearer picture of activities: "LEWIS, VIVIAN, importer and manufacturer of bicycles, office 68 Grenfell-st, showrooms Freeman-st; agent Ormonde Cycle Co.", even if his residential listing (in North Parade, North Unley) still gives his profession as "produce merchant".

Lewis office at 68 Grenfell Street, Adelaide?

There is some confusion, but photograph 29 from the Lewis album may show the inside the Lewis office on Grenfell Street, c1905.

The State Library of South Australia holds a copy of the same photograph (B 24273), with the description: "Northern Assurance Co. (Fire and Life) office, 68 Grenfell Street, north side. Agents: C.L. Meyer, ca.1912". By contrast, the  picture was used in the 1905 Lewis Cycles booklet where it is captioned "Our Office: Gawler Place".

From the confusion comes an important link. C.L. Meyer, the first-listed tenant at 68 Grenfell Street in many of the directory entries of the day, was the pro tem Company Secretary of the Lewis Cycle Works Limited at the time of its (unsuccessful) launch in 1896. Clearly he and Vivian Lewis shared business interests. I will investigate further as time permits.

The Lewis office was listed at 68 Grenfell Street until 1905. At this time the business reorganised, with the motor interests moving to the newly-erected Motor House on Victoria Square and the cycle interests consolidating at the original Ormonde Bicycle Depot building, whose address was by now 31 Gawler Place. Space was found to consolidate the offices on the Gawler Place site: if the photograph in the 1905 Lewis Cycles booklet didn't truly show "Our Office: Gawler Place" it at least indicated the correct address!

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