Grave situation at Melbourne’s Queen Victoria Market

It is thought there were more than 10,000 people buried in the Old Melbourne Cemetery. Now more than 10,000 people visit the Queen Victoria Market every day — on top of the cemetery. So much for resting in peace.

The Melbourne City Council has recently pledged $800,000 to design a multilevel car park at the market.

But all digging will have to be done by hand, because machines are not allowed to dig around human remains. The proposed redevelopment at the Queen Victoria Market is expected to cost $13 million.

Existing storage sheds fronting Franklin Street will be the site for 484 new car parking spaces, cool storage and retail spaces. Apartments are also being considered.

Lord Mayor Peter Costigan says the new car park is just what the Queen Victoria Market needs. “The current car parking facilities are filled to capacity on the main market days. This is a deterrent to shoppers and limits the opportunities to increase patronage,” Councillor Costigan said.
“With the additional spaces, we can attract more shoppers and tourists to the market.”

Market spokesperson, Carolyn Fyfe, says the exact number of people buried under the market site is unknown. According to Ms Fyfe, when fire destroyed the old cemetery’s gatehouse, all records were destroyed as well.

When a Royal Commission in 1915 first allowed the market to expand, the bodies of those who could be identified were moved to Fawkner Cemetery.

Ms Fyfe says with proposals to further expand the site, a thorough investigation of the area is required. “We can’t be sure as to the extent of human burial until we do a test dig,” Ms Fyfe said.

The City of Melbourne will consult with the Department of Human Services and Church groups about the matter before construction begins. Traders and local residents will also be consulted about the project.

Council finance committee chairman, Martin Brennan, says the project could include some residential development.- “I support any opportunity for developing more residential living in and around the city, especially in the market area,” Councillor Brennan said. “Having more people live in the city improves the way it operates.”

Councillor Brennan said although the Melbourne City Council would certainly go ahead with construction of the extra car park, he would not personally endorse the plan. “I’m less inclined to support the car park proposal. I’m not one who thinks we need more car spaces in the city,” he said.

But market spokeswoman, Ms Fyfe, disagrees. “The area desperately needs parking,” she said. “It will help local business, and local residents, who don’t like shoppers parking outside their houses.”

Ms Fyfe believes any residential development at the market would be inappropriate. “We want to be sure the Queen Victoria Market operates as a market. It would also be difficult to convince people to live on top of a cemetery,” she said. process,” he. said.

Market chairman, David Elsum, said the design and tender process will take four months. “Our stakeholders [will be] fully informed during all stages of the process,” he said. Construction of the project is expected to take 16 months.

by Christine Caulfield, September 1999. (story first published in the North & West Melbourne News.)

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