Harry Drew was a somewhat eccentric if popular cab operator in High Street Northcote. He operated a waggonette between Clifton Hill and Robbs Parade, Northcote, charging 3d per trip. He also operated a second waggonette which ran from Preston to Lonsdale Street for 6d a trip.
During the 1860s and 1870s carters wagons used High Street to cart Northcote bricks throughout Melbourne’s suburbs. Drew was always on the look out for bricks which had fallen off these wagons. He would invariably stop and pick up any stray bricks he found, irrespective of how many passengers were sat in the back of his wagon. It was said he built his out house entirely out of scrounged bricks found this way.
It is a measure of the man that despite his relatively humble social position virtually every commentator or local historian of his generation felt compelled to mention him. In 1918 ‘Merdna’ a local resident writing of Northcote in the 1860s and 70s, talking about a local act of vandalism against Francis Beaver, a local Member of Parliament said
“….the names of those who took an active part in the frolic was kept a secret for many years…..a very popular cab driver, Drew by name, who was suspected of knowing more that he cared to tell about that memorable night’s doings, but to his credit the genial cabby never divulged what done or who did it.”
Drew lived opposite the Preston Arms Hotel, in Preston. He was clearly deceased by 1879 as the Argus reported that his business was sold off to finalise his estate. The goods auctioned included a:
"waggonette, cab, four horses, several sets of harness, stable utensils, household furniture, etc."
Forster, Harley W. (1968). Preston Lands and People. Melbourne: Cheshire.
Swift, William George (1928). The history of Northcote: From its first settlement to a city. Northcote, Vic: Leader Publishing.