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Roller-mania in 19th century Victoria

14 December 2021

Did you know that your lockdown hobby has been thrilling Australians since the 19th century?

In this episode of Mystery Box, Senior Librarian Bridie Flynn explores the enduring appeal of rollerskating in Victoria, from it's debut in Australia during the 1860s through to the recent resurgence during the pandemic.

Drawing on the Dan Clifton Collection, a trove of rollerskating photos, ephemera and realia, Bridie spotlights a pair of rollerskates belonging to two-year-old Ruby Beyer. Ruby was the heir to Beyer roller-rink empire in the early 20th century and, alongside her sister Hilda, grew up to become one of the most popular skaters in this country.

This episode also features rare and fascinating footage from the National Film and Sound Archive that observes a bustling skating rink in Brisbane from 1909.

About Mystery Box

In the Mystery Box video series, we bring to light some of the most extraordinary items in State Library Victoria's expansive collection. Join us as we unbox unique treasures, and explore the stories they have to tell.

Find out more and view all episodes