The Palings Building in these pictures is a heritage-listed retail building located at 86 Queen Street, Brisbane City. It was designed by Richard Gailey as one of a row of four identical buildings that in 1885 replaced the former convict barracks. Paling & Company purchased the music business from Richard Thomas Jefferies in 1886. Jefferies was not just the owner of a music business but also conducted several choirs. In 1872 he founded the Brisbane Musical Union. Its current name is The Queensland Choir, which celebrated its 150 anniversary in 2022.
Paling did not but did not occupy the building until 1888.
Two of the four buildings have since been demolished while a third survives but is incorporated into another building. The Palings building was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992.
Dutch-born William Henry Paling had emigrated from Woerden to Australia in 1853 and had established himself in Sydney in the 1850s as a tutor of piano and violin, composer, concert performer, the initiator of several music societies, and a soloist violinist, retailing musical instruments and sheet music. In the 1870s and 1880s, Paling was active in local government and philanthropic work.
In 1884, Paling had opened a branch of his business in Toowoomba before establishing the Queen Street store a few years later. Although there were several other music and musical instrument sellers in Brisbane in 1888, Paling & Co.’s store flourished, and for nearly a century they were the leaders in the sales of records, sheet music and pianos in Queensland.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Paling’s piano tuners travelled throughout Brisbane and the Darling Downs, and recitals (until 1930) and tutoring (until the early 1940s) were offered at the Queen Street store. A third Queensland store was opened in Townsville in 1923. In the 1920s, the firm “diversified”, with the sale of radios and phonographs. From c. 1914 to 1974, Paling’s Queen Street store also offered Brisbane’s leading theatre booking service.
William Henry Paling died at his Sydney home in 1895
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