Summary

This two piece late Victorian style wedding dress was design by costume designer Clare Griffin for the 1983 Crawford Productions mini-series `All the Rivers Run'. It was custom made for Australian actor Sigrid Thornton, playing the character Philadelphia Gordon, and worn by her during the wedding scenes, when she married the character Brenton Edwards, played by actor John Waters, on board the paddle steamer PS Philadelphia.

The dress was later sold at an auction of costumes, props and production equipment held in 1988 at the Crawfords Box Hill studios after the business was sold to the property company Ariadne.

In 2006 it was displayed at ACMI in Melbourne as part of their TV50 exhibition, celebrating 50 years of television in Melbourne.

Physical Description

Two piece wedding dress, consisting of a fitted jacket and separate long skirt: (1) Jacket made of a cream satin material, machine sewn, with clear net inserts creating a floral design. Underneath is a layer of a cream synthetic material. Inserted around the collar and v-shaped neck area are panels of a cream machine lace, pleated towards the bottom, and is edged with a wide panel of thick machine lace. The neck opening is decorated with yellow ribbon tied in a bow at the front. It has leg of mutton sleeves, decorated near the shoulder area with four pleats. The cuffs are ruched and decorated with yellow ribbon. The jacket opens down the centre back, and is secured with a row of metal hook and eyes. A row of machine lace decorates the outside of the waist area, and inside are a row of metals eyes to attach the jacket to the skirt. There is synthetic boning and a white cloth label sewn inside the jacket. (2) Long flared skirt made of panels of a cream material, machine sewn, decorated towards the bottom with a row of a wide machine lace. There is a small opening at the back, which is secured with a row of metal press studs and two pieces of white cloth tape. There are lengths of cloth tape sewn inside for attaching to undergarments (not present). There is a small cloth loop sewn into the back hem of the skirt to be hung around the thumb of the wearer so that the skirt does not drag along the ground. A cloth label is sewn into the hem of the skirt.

Significance

Statement of Significance:

This costume is significant due to its connection to the landmark Australian TV mini-series `All the Rivers Run'. It was produced by Crawford Productions for Channel 7, and was filmed at their studios in Box Hill and on location at Echuca and on the Murray River. It was based on the novel of the same name by Australian author Nancy Cato, and focussed on life on and around the River Murray before the end of the 19th century. It was the first mini-series produced under the Australian Government's tax incentive scheme `10BA', devised to encourage private investment in Australian film and television. It was also the first Australian program presold to the American cable network `Home Box Office' (later known as HBO).

It is also significant due to its links to the Melbourne radio and television production house `Crawford Productions'. Founded in 1945 by brother and sister Hector and Dorothy Crawford, initially to produce radio programs, its first release was `Melba', a dramatisation with music of the life story of Dame Nellie Melba. They went on to produce thousands of hours of radio programming, and were the first Australian company to export in a large way. When television was introduced they became the first independent producer to screen a programme. Entitled `Wedding Day' it premiered on HSV-7 in November 1956 at 9:30pm and ran for 39 weeks. It went on to produce numerous programs, many which went on to become some of Australia's most popular programs, including Consider Your Verdict, Division 4, Homicide, Matlock Police, The Box, The Sullivans, Cop Shop, Carson's Law, The Flying Doctors, The Henderson Kids, State Coroner and The Saddle Club.

Due to ill health, Hector sold the company in 1987 to property company Ariadne, who in turn sold it to WIN TV's parent company Oberon Broadcasters, who were mainly interested in the company's program library, in 1989. Production gradually decreased over the next decade. By the turn of the century only one program, The Saddle Club', was being produced. The company's studio complex site at Box Hill was sold to Bunnings in 2005. Crawford Productions is now a three person operation located in Docklands.

It is also significant due to it links to the City of Echuca, specifically the Port of Echuca. Founded in 1853, Echuca became the largest inland port in Australia, second only to the Port of Melbourne. The town became the trading hub for businesses from as far away as Queensland, utilising the Darling and Murrumbidgee Rivers to transport wares like wool and harvests of wheat, eventually by rail to the Port of Melbourne.

The centre of Echuca during its heyday was the huge red gum wharf built in 1865, which fell into disrepair during the 20th century as Echuca's importance waned. In 1973, tourism was the new business in town, and restoration work began on the wharf. When the mini-series `All the Rivers Run' screened, first locally and then internationally, business boomed. The historic port is now home to the largest collection of paddle steamers in Australia. Many of them have been fully restored and offer daily cruises along the Murray River.

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