What is Significant?
The Skipping Girl Vinegar sign is an animated neon sign consisting of a flat painted silhouette background with neon highlighting and backless neon tube on steel support substructure that simulates the figure of a girl, known as 'Little Audrey' skipping over a skipping rope with painted letters spelling 'Vinegar' highlighted with neon at the base of the sign.
The current sign erected in 1970 is not the original sign. The original was erected in 1936 and is believed to be the first animated neon sign in Melbourne. The original sign was situated above the Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory at 627 Victoria Street Abbotsford and remained there until 1968 when the company moved premises to Altona. The sign was not re-erected at the company's new site.
For the thirty-two years that the Skipping Girl sign stood above the vinegar factory it was regarded as a local landmark and a public outcry followed its removal. In response to this a campaign was undertaken to reinstate it. With the involvement of businessman John Benjamin, a new Skipping Girl Vinegar sign was reinstated on the roof of Benjamin's Crusader Plate Company, a short distance from its original location.
The new Skipping Girl Vinegar sign varies a little from the original, being slightly smaller, the girl having slightly longer hair and with her dress flying up higher at the back. Its new location is at a lower height which has reduced the prominence and visibility of the sign.
How is it Significant? The Skipping Girl Sign is of social and historical significance to the State of Victoria
Why is it Significant?
The Skipping Girl Vinegar sign is of historical significance as one of an important collection of signs marking Victoria's industrial heritage in Richmond. Richmond has the greatest concentration of surviving sky-signs in the state, which includes the Nylex, Victoria Bitter, Slade Knitwear and Pelaco signs. The signs have strong associations with the industrial base of the former City of Richmond. These electric sky-signs were once a prominent feature of the Melbourne skyline and are diminishing in number.
The Skipping Girl Vinegar sign is of historical significance for its associations with the original sign, which is believed to be the first animated neon sign in Melbourne.
The Skipping Girl sign is of social significance as a popular landmark which is referred to in popular culture, and is often included in lists of Melbourne landmarks and icons. The community response to the removal of the original sign is an indication of its social significance.
General Conditions: 1. All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric of the registered place or object.General Conditions: 2.
Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and the Executive Director shall be notified as soon as possible.General Conditions: 3.
If there is a conservation policy and plan approved by the Executive Director, all works shall be in accordance with it. Note: The existence of a Conservation Management Plan or a Heritage Action Plan endorsed by Heritage Victoria provides guidance for the management of the heritage values associated with the site. It may not be necessary to obtain a heritage permit for certain works specified in the management plan.General Conditions: 4. Nothing in this determination prevents the Executive Director from amending or rescinding all or any of the permit exemptions.General Conditions: 5. Nothing in this determination exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant planning or building permits from the responsible authorities where applicable.Minor Works :
Note: Any Minor Works that in the opinion of the Executive Director will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the place may be exempt from the permit requirements of the Heritage Act. A person proposing to undertake minor works may submit a proposal to the Executive Director. If the Executive Director is satisfied that the proposed works will not adversely affect the heritage values of the site, the applicant may be exempted from the requirement to obtain a heritage permit. If an applicant is uncertain whether a heritage permit is required, it is recommended that the permits co-ordinator be contacted.
Painting Painting will not require permit approval if the painting: a) does not involve the disturbance or removal of earlier paint layers other than that which has failed by chalking, flaking, peeling or blistering; b) involves over-coating with an appropriate surface as an isolating layer to provide a means of protection for significant earlier layers or to provide a stable basis for repainting; c) employs the same colour scheme and paint type as an earlier scheme if they are appropriate to the substrate and do not endanger the survival of earlier paint layers.
If the painting employs a different colour scheme and paint type from an earlier scheme a permit will not be required if a) the Executive Director is satisfied that the proposed colour scheme, paint type, details of surface preparation and paint removal will not adversely affect the heritage significance of the item; b) the person proposing to undertake the painting has received a notice advising that the Executive Director is satisfied. Any proposal to undertake such work should be submitted to the Executive Director, detailing the proposed colour scheme, paint type, details of surface preparation and paint removal involved in the repainting, for approval.
General Maintenance -Minor repairs and maintenance which replace like with like.
-Replacement and repair of power supply and electrical circuitry.
-Maintenance and repair of Neon tubing.
-Maintenance and repair of the metal lettering.
-Maintenance of the background assembly of the figure of the girl.
-Maintenance and repair of support structure.
-All electrical repair works provided that the animation sequencing is retained.
-Replacement and patching of minor areas of metal work in the existing sign.
-Engineering repairs and painting of the existing support structure, however any changes to the support structure or any additional structure or structural elements will require either a permit or the written approval of the Executive Director.
-Changes to the existing external fabric of the supporting building, internal works to the building and works to the structure of the building not directly related to the support of the sign are permit exempt.
Permit Policy The purpose of the permit exemptions is to allow works that do not impact on the significance of the heritage place to occur without the need for a permit. The significance of the Skipping Girl sign lies predominantly in its form, location and position. Any alterations that impact on the significant built fabric of the sign, its structure and its position and location will require a permit.
Any new works, additional structures or alterations to the exterior of the building within the registered curtilage or which may impact on any structure that supports the sign will require either a permit or the written approval of the Executive Director.
This is not the original Skipping Girl Sign and nor is it in the location of the original Skipping Girl Sign. The significance of the sign is based on its high visibility and its location on the river side of Victoria Street near to Walmer Street. In response to any future development of the building on which it currently sits or to the development of a neighbouring building that may obscure views of the sign, it is possible that the sign could be moved to a new location in the near vicinity of its current location to ensure its visibility can continue to be enjoyed. However any proposal to relocate the sign would depend on a suitable site being available and may require the amendment of the registration. Any proposal to relocate the sign will require either a permit or the written approval of the Executive Director.