Henry Philbrick, elder brother of Charles and George Philbrick of the tannery on Katesgrove Lane, went out to Australia to seek his fortune in 1857. After a period in the goldfields of Victoria he turned to the family trade and set up a tannery at Broadford in 1865.

The tannery was located on the main road to Sydney at the junction with Dry Creek. It had permanent water supply ‘nearly always running’ and a never-failing well. When sold at auction in 1871, the premises were described as [ref1]:

The property stands in two and a half acres of freehold land, substantially fenced with paled garden; two neat and well furnished weather boarded cottages, fowl and other outhouses; 27 tan pits, drying shed 60 x 22 feet, bark mill shed, all shingle roofed and in excellent repair. The bark mill and all the working plant are of the best class, and can be seen prior to the sale.

According to a short biography in a local directory, Henry Philbrick and his family then moved on to Rosedale where he established another tannery and, after working at Longford which was nearby, he returned to Rosedale. In 1888 he was tanning 60 to 70 hides a week and employed four people and his son [ref2].

He was not the only Reading tanner to work in Rosedale. The first tannery in the town was founded in 1858 by Paul Cansick but it went bankrupt in 1887 [ref3].

By the end of the nineteenth century Henry Philbrick had moved to Abbotsford, a suburb of Melbourne, where in 1897 he was manager of McLean Bros tannery in Grosvenor Street [ref4].

Henry Philbrick died in Melbourne in 1909 at the age of 71 and was buried in Coburg Pine Ridge cemetery with his wife Mary, who died in the same year. Despite size of this cemetery in north Melbourne, online records made it easy to find their grave.

  1. Other early settlers of Rosedale
  2. Katesgrovians in Reading Old Cemetery – John and Eliza Philbrick
  3. Katesgrovians in Caversham Old Cemetery – Charles Philbrick
  4. Smells of Katesgrove – Philbrick’s Tannery
  5. History published of Philbrick’s tannery on Katesgrove Lane
  6. Coburg Pine Ridge Cemetery


  1. Kilmore Free Press, Thursday 15 June 1871, p4
  2. Victoria and its Metropolis 1888, p382
  3. Victorian Government Gazette, 6 May 1887
  4. Sands & McDougall Melbourne directory 1897