Front cover of the 'Sydney Railway waltz' 1855  by William Paling, courtesy National Library of Australia nla.mus-an6340871

Front cover of the 'Sydney Railway waltz' 1855 by William Paling, courtesy National Library of Australia nla.mus-an6340871

Music is an integral part of our society, and something that 2ser promotes. So today Lisa and Mitch had a look at a musician and an entrepreneur who promoted music in Sydney. He is a Dutchman who came to Sydney in the mid-19th century and left his mark on Sydney. His name is William Henry Paling.

WH Paling, Courier Mail, 22 October 1953, p11

WH Paling, Courier Mail, 22 October 1953, p11

Paling arrived in Sydney in 1850s. In 1855 to celebrate the opening of the first train line from Sydney to Parramatta, Paling composed the Sydney Railway Waltz, complete with locomotive sounds – the rhythm of the train, the sound of the whistle. You can view the complete sheet music on the National Library’s website http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-an6340871 and listen to it here on the Australian Railway Story site,  as performed by the NSW Transport Insitute Band.

He put on concerts and taught music at private colleges, but it was his music shop that really took off.

William Paling was the founder of WH Paling & Co. It became a Mecca for Sydney’s music lovers. He imported musical instruments and published and distributed sheet music. Palings Christmas annual with new and poplar songs with choruses was very popular festive season entertainment in the 1880s and 1890s.

Paling moved with the times. As his business grew he moved from Wynyard Square to George Street, eventually building a large showroom at 338 George St and associated music practice rooms in Ash Street. These buildings were connected by Palings Lane.

He  embraced the latest technologies for music, selling the Edison phonograph and later in the 20th century his music store sold radio sets and promoted the latest movie stars at the talkies.

Paling was also a generous philanthropist. He donated a large farm at Camden and £10,000 to establish the Carrington Convalescent Hospital. He also served the community, as an elected alderman for Petersham Council from 1876 to 1889. He was Mayor in 1881-2, apparently the very first Dutch-born mayor in Australia.

Paling died of a heart attack in 1895, and is buried in Waverley Cemetery.

The name of Palings survived in the music chain stores that William founded. Palings stores survived into the 1980s and until their closure claimed the mantel of the oldest music shop in Sydney.

 

For more on the amazing William Paling see the Dictionary’s entry by Edward Duyker http://dictionaryofsydney.org/entry/paling_william_henry

and the Australian Dictionary of Biography

http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/paling-william-henry-4356

W.H Paling & Co., 356 George Street, Sydney, courtesy State Records NSW 4481_a026_000041

W.H Paling & Co., 356 George Street, Sydney, courtesy State Records NSW 4481_a026_000041

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