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Haymarket Theatre


“Can’t you give it a better name? Haymarket Theatre sounds . . . well it sounds common. Why not something like the Theatre Royal down the street.”
“That’s the point”
said Coppin.
“People will immediately know where it is and that theatre is available to anyone willing to pay the price of admission, not just those wanting to be seen.”

Coppin also knew that his reputation as a comic actor in ‘commoner’ roles was how people remembered him and how he had made his way out of bankruptcy more than once. In that role he could head to the gas footlights and engage in some broad character acting and double entendre for those standing in the stalls while still weaving in some biting satire for those in the circle capable of listening between the lines. “I think the Haymarket Theatre sends the right message and will return the agreed percentage on your investment.”

It was a bold move. Coppin had already lost a large amount of money through his investment in the Melbourne & Suburban Railway Company. The construction of the major bridges across the Yarra at Burnley and Hawthorn had stretched the finances of the company to the extent where the government, who built no major infrastructure itself, had only to wait for it to look like going broke before picking it up for a song. But if you needed a song, there was always Mrs Coppin. The legality of Mr and Mrs George Coppin’s conjugation was about as reliable as Mr and Mrs John Batman’s, but in Melbourne at that time you didn’t enquire too closely.

Coppin succeeded in raising the money for his new theatre. He would no doubt be puzzled by the current fashion of actors being wheeled out to proclaim themselves as architectural experts to protest the alteration of some piece of decaying nostalgia by relabeling it 'heritage'. Coppin preferred to create and commission and build and improve society through social engineering. Among his legacy is Gordon House and the Old Colonists settlement in Fitzroy.

The Haymarket Theatre was to prove a success and the appropriateness of its name can be seen in this contemporary illustration.

You can find a comprehensive guide to markets around Australia at The White Hat Guide to Markets in Australia.