R.F. Scott is a true Ballarat institution.
Having sold firearms and fishing tackle from its Lydiard Street premises for over 100 years, it’s reputed to be the oldest continuous presence for a gun shop in Australia.
Sadly, all things must change, and R.F. Scott is on the move.
Owner Gary Huntington is the first person to admit a deeply sentimental attachment to the building that has seen generations of hunters and anglers come through its doors, whether from Ballarat or far overseas.
“It’s had a real rich history, this shop. The previous owners never had to put it out there. They said, ‘No, people know who we are and where we are...’”, says Mr Huntington.
The previous owners were of course the Pollocks, and for many, many years before that, the Butlers. The Butlers took over the shop after the original owner, Richard Scott, allegedly disappeared on safari in Africa.
“When I first came in here in 1970 – I was born and bred in Melbourne, but I used to come up to this shop because it was so good – the old fellow Bobby Butler, he bought 50 brand new .303s in the grease, and he was selling them for $50 each,” recalls Mr Huntington.
But times certainly have changed, and along with them gun laws and people's’ understanding of firearms. The old shop is no longer secure enough for Mr Hutchinson’s liking, and a lack of parking and rear access means people have to walk along Lydiard Street with their weapons to enter the shop.
“The old farmers still run in with their shotguns. In the 70s and 80s that was accepted, you didn’t even think about it – but not now. We have to put big bars in the front and we don’t want it looking like a gaol.”
R.F. Scott was also the setting for an episode of the Dr Blake series. The producers searched for another location in order not to inconvenience sales, but nothing else matched the ambience of the Lydiard Street premises. They even used Gary’s own collection of vintage .303s and Martinis as set dressing.
Gary Huntington says Scott’s used to have the building next door as well, and the whole window was full of pistols and revolvers on display, as well as an historic longarm display. They’re no longer on show, and Gary says that’s due to a regrettable change in society.
“Somebody would drive a vehicle through the window in two seconds,” he says.
R.F. Scott will continue selling firearms, as it’s done since 1886, from its new premises in Howitt Street, Wendouree.
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