Talk of the dead.

John Laurens deserves to be remembered by people who live in North and West Melbourne. He was the first treasurer of the Hotham Mechanics Institute, which later became the North Melbourne Library. When you stand opposite the library on Errol Street, you will still see the words ‘Mechanics Institute’ on the wall of the building. In his role as treasurer, …

First sixty years of the Temperance Hall (part 1)

James Munro was a temperance man. He represented North Melbourne in the colonial parliament and was briefly premier of the colony. His fellow member in North Melbourne, John Curtain, was a publican. His hotel on the corner of Rathdowne and Elgin Streets is still there but recently changed its time-honoured name. Munro was English, Curtain Irish. Munro tended to side …

First sixty years of the Temperance Hall (part 2)

I don’t know if Christian groups favour a particular colour. Blue or white seem like possibilities. Temperance 1 have always thought of as grey. despite its inclination to militancy. Whatever the case, there can be no doubt that the Temperance Hall, now located at 456 Queensberry Street, changed its colours to radical red m the 1940s. As I wrote in …

Rich treasure trove of print

Trove is a true treasure. It is a free online search service that enables researchers to find information from digitised newspapers and other published sources. There, at the tip of your keyboard, are old newspapers of all sorts in facsimile and occasionally quaint transliteration. One of the newspapers in this trove is the North Melbourne Advertiser, founded in 1873 by …

Happy one hundredth to The Lost Dogs’ Home!

One hundred years ago Australia had a population of 4,820,172 people. On 12 March 1913, Lady Denman, wife of Australia’s Governor General, named the capital Canberra. Lord Denman told those at-tending the ceremony that the Australian people should not cavil at the expense of building another city because Sydney and Melbourne were already overcrowded! No one counted the number of …

At home and school in North and West Melbourne

One Saturday last November about 50 Hotham History Project members and friends gathered outside St Mary Star of the Sea to take a nostalgic walk along the streets of West Melbourne. Many had attended the King Street Primary School in the late 1940s and 1950s when their families lived in the area. Led by Lorraine Siska, who had a trolley-load …

Recollections of great days at the old pool

Laurie Davies was born 100 years ago. He lived his early life in Munster Terrace and remembered spending many hours enjoying himself at the North Melbourne Pool. Years passed and when his brother, Jim, was caretaker at the pool in the l950s Laurie taught swimming to local schoolchildren. His memories of the pool are among the archives of the Hotham …

City of Melbourne Bowls Club celebrates 150 years.

The minute book proclaiming the formation of the West Melbourne Bowling Club, on 18 August 1866, begins with these words: “At the request of several gentlemen who are desirous of having the Bowling Green of the Sablioniere Hotel Queen Street reserved for their exclusive use on certain days each week, the Proprietor has resolved on establishing the above named Club. …

The history of a West Melbourne streetscape.

Between 1853 and 1920, 1–11 Hawke Street, on the corner of King Street, had a number of small timber dwellings. After World War I, a Melbourne chemist, Samuel John Marshall, tapped into improvements in mechanisation and purchased 1–11 Hawke Street to build a medicine manufacturing facility. The building was designed by architect James A. Wood, the designer of University High …

Grate story of draining the swamp

Alluring, fascinating, intriguing. How, you may ask, can these adjectives be used to describe a drain? North Melbourne resident Geoff Leach has been interested in one ‘particular local drain since 1989. He was then living in Harris Street and a downpour caused the drain to overflow and flood the street to the depth of one metre. One night recently, Geoff …

The M.C.C.’s Own “Watergate”

Described by a local estate agent as the Melbourne City Council’s Watergate – Capel and Peel Street’s future is shrouded with secrecy. Back in 1971 the Council began buying land in the Capel and Peel Street block to form part of a proposed re-development project for the Queen Victoria Market. “This block is to be rated into a redevelopment scheme …

Plaque marks the site of wartime tragedy

0ne of North and West Melbourne’s rare public reminders of World War II is a brass plaque on an industrial site near the Macaulay railway station. The plaque commemorates the death of the pilot and gunner of a Vultee Vengeance dive-bomber which crashed there on 4 September 1943. By coincidence, I recently met a friend at the Haines Street bus …

A wander through the historical records held in the North Melbourne Library.

Have you ever wondered where your great-grandfather is buried? (Look up CD ROM: Fawkner & Coburg Cemeteries.) Who was that relative born aboard ship on the voyage out to Australia? (Look up CD ROM: Marine Births, Deaths & Marriages 1853-1920.) Want to find out the history of your house? (Look up Microfiche: City of North Melbourne Rate Books 1855-1905/1985, Conservation …

A Walk Through Time.

The story of the first hundred years of St Michael’s parish covers a lot of North Melbourne’s history, which the Hotham History Project celebrated on 8 November with a walk around the parish. We took in three interesting churches. The first was St Michael’s, where the foundation stone explains, in Latin, that it was laid by Thomas Josephus, who was …

A walk along Victoria Street.

Victoria Street is one of my favourite suburban streets. It runs from west to east across the top of the city, forming the southern boundary first of North Melbourne and then Carlton, as far as Nicholson Street, where it becomes Victoria Parade. A walk along this street reveals diverse architecture, intriguing ghost signs and a few good street-art sites. I …

On the Trail of Historic Hotham.

The Friends of St Michael’s had a very successful fund-raising day on the 13th October. Despite very cold weather, approximately sixty people gathered in Chetwynd Street to commence a fascinating two-hour walk around North and West Melbourne. Members of the Hotham History Project led the various groups, drawing on the ‘Discovering Our District’ booklets which were researched and published by …