To illustrate the current plight of the heritage-listed neon sign, the Trust organised to have Little Audrey illuminated on Tuesday night for members of the press. Everyone could see clearly what a poor state the sign is currently in, with only sections of the sign still in working order. Major parts of the sign have been affected by rust and broken neon tubing.
The Skipping Girl Vinegar neon sign remains in the dark at night.
The National Trust wants to raise $60,000 for the restoration of the sign, with additional money required for ongoing maintenance and running costs. A fund has been established and donations are currently being solicited. I hope that the Trust can raise the funds required as I’d love to see this iconic Melbourne neon working again.
This is not the first time a Skipping Girl sign has been left in the dark. The original Skipping Girl neon sign, which was crafted in 1936, fell into disrepair in the 1970′s after years of neglect. The sign was completely replaced at that time when it became evident the community still wanted to retain Little Audrey even after the vinegar factory had left Abbotsford. It was during this period that the sign was relocated to its current spot above a silver plate and metalwork factory. The factory closed in the late 1980′s and was subsequently turned into apartments. Thus the management of the sign became a complicated affair because the ownership of the sign has fallen to the body corporate by default.
Obviously the restoration and maintenance of a neon sign isn’t cheap which is why the sign has remained in the dark since 2001. When another iconic Melbourne neon, the Nylex Clock, was restored in 2005, Nylex Plastics had to outlay $300,000 for the refurbishment.
I hope that the National Trust is successful with its campaign to raise the required funds as I’d love to see Little Audrey skipping again. I know many Melburnians share my enthusiasm.
ABC News, Tuesday 6 May 2008.
Footage Copyright © Australian Broadcasting Corporation.