Hotham History Project – Rough Diamond

After the business of the meeting, there will be a reading from the play Rough Diamond, by John Baldwin Buckstone, as a precursor to a performance to be staged by the North Melbourne Library and the Hotham History Project later in the year. The play has been chosen because of its connection to North Melbourne. In 1885 Rough Diamond was performed in the library to aid the Benevolent Asylum. In the cast was Marian Dunn, the widow of Marcus Clarke, author of For the Term of his Natural Life. In 1886 the play was performed again in the North Melbourne Town Hall as a benefit for Marian Dunn. The ticket reproduced above is held in the Local History Collection of the North Melbourne Library.

What is the Hotham History Project?

It is a group of residents and friends of North and West Melbourne who are interested in exploring the history of this fascinating old part of Melbourne. We are publishing our work in a continuing series of short books called The Annals of Hotham. So far two volumes have been published — The Melbourne Benevolent Asylum, the story of North Melbourne’s first building, and Faithful Friends, the story of the establishment of the Lost Dogs’ Home and the Lort Smith Animal Hospital in North Melbourne. Both these books are available from the North Melbourne Library and through the Hotham History Project. Winsome Roberts’ social history of Molesworth Street is almost ready for publication and we are hoping to announce the launch shortly.

What is involved in joining?

You are invited to join the Hotham History Project as either a supporter, a researcher, a writer, an artist or a general enthusiast. The project is a legally incorporated body and the $10.00 membership fee entitles you to full member-ship. You will receive notice of meetings and activities. Activities have included history walks, showing of old films, and a historical enactment and laying of a plaque to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the first building in North Melbourne. Please join us at the North Melbourne Library on Saturday 25 May. You can make enquiries about joining the Hotham History Project at the North Melbourne Library or contact Mary Kehoe on 9329 5814.

The Local History Collection of the North Melbourne Library contains a large number of illustrations documenting various stages in the development of North and West Melbourne. The Hotham History Project and the North Melbourne Library have been unable to identify some of these illustrations.

Please contact Heather McKay at the North Melbourne Library if you think you know the location of any of the houses in these photographs.

by Mary Kehoe, March 2002. (story first published in the North & West Melbourne News.)

Do you know more about this story? Email: