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Bidding to light the Skipping Girl again

G8th May 2008

C4 Comments

Tart, heritage

The National Trust has launched a campaign to raise $60,000 for the restoration of the Skipping Girl sign.

The National Trust of Victoria has launched a campaign to raise $60,000 for the restoration of a much-loved Melbourne icon, the Skipping Girl vinegar neon sign in Abbotsford.

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.

More information about the heritage-listed sign is contained in a National Trust Fact Sheet and on my Melbourne Neon website.

Below is a story that was featured on ABC1 Melbourne’s news bulletin on Tuesday night about the campaign, with footage of the illuminated Skipping Girl Vinegar sign.

ABC News, Tuesday 6 May 2008.
Footage Copyright © Australian Broadcasting Corporation.



4 responses to “Bidding to light the Skipping Girl again”

  • Written by Ann Warr (nee Benjamin) on 20 June 2008:

    Re the Skipping girl Sign.The sign was in fact re-erected above the Crusader Plate factory, following negotiations with Neon the owners of the original sign. Crusader Plate was Not a “Crockery Factory” but a maufacturer of Silver Plate and other metal works. Mr father Mr John(Jack) Benjamin was the managing director and put a lot of work into achieving the restoration. I was present at the lighting of the new sign, when a song written by Barry Humphries was sung by Shirley Jacobs (folk singer). Other members of our family were also present and remember the occasion well. My father would be thrilled to know of the present move to have the sign restored. I remember watching the original sign from the front window of my Aunt’s home in Hodgson Street Kew.

  • Written by Adam Dimech on 22 June 2008:

    Thanks for that important correction and nostalgic insight, Ann. It is good to see history repeating insofar as the restoration of the sign is concerned.

  • Written by Yvette on 22 April 2009:

    Hi Adam,

    There has been a lot of publicity recently surrounding the restoration of Little Audrey and I thought your readers may be interested in an update on the iconic Skipping Girl Vinegar sign.

    Little Audrey has recently been pulled down for restoration thanks to AGL Energy who will get her skipping again with renewable energy: 100% GreenPower.

    Fast Facts:

    • The Skipping Girl Vinegar sign was first erected in 1936

    • Principal sponsor AGL, along with National Trust of Australia (Victoria), the Heritage Council of Victoria, Melbourne Heritage Restoration Fund and other public donors will bring Audrey back to light by late May

    • Little Audrey has been switched off since 2001

    • AGL will power the Skipping Girl Vinegar sign with AGL Green Energy, the retailer’s 100% GreenPower accredited product, over the next five years

    • Skipping Girl Vinegar sign is now included on the Victorian Heritage Register of the State’s most significant places & objects

    AGL, General Manager Retail Sales & Marketing David Hamilton said, “AGL is delighted to be supporting a local project that is preserving Victoria’s history. The Skipping Girl Sign is one of the most loved and famous icons in Melbourne and we look forward to giving her back her energy so that she can skip again for everyone in the community to enjoy.”

  • Written by Adam Dimech on 22 April 2009:

    Thanks so much for the update, Yvette. I look forward to the return of Little Audrey!

    The website is good, too.

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