Three Historical Sites

Three Historical Sites

The letter of “J.H.K.” in “The Age” entitled “Three Historical Sites” is opportune, since an illustrated brochure containing an historical review of the schools that were first established in North Melbourne is at present in course of preparation by me at the request of the present committee of the Errol Street State School. This history is to be part of the forthcoming diamond jubilee celebration of the school, which is to be held early in November next. Every effort has been made to secure a picture or drawing of the second powder magazine of Melbourne, which was built in the Royal Park, facing the Flemington Road, but without success. A picture of the first powder magazine, built on Batman’s Hill in 1848, is in existence, but official records have been searched for an illustration of the second one, but without success. An illustration of the Flemington Road powder magazine which was used as a school after the powder stored therein had been removed to the third powder magazine, which had been erected on the northern side of the Zoological Gardens, is urgently required, and if obtained, it will make the history complete. Can any of your readers help us?


In answer to “J.S.K” concerning three historical sites, I well remember the bluestone building known as the powder magazine in the Royal Park. It was later used for an outbreak of smallpox, and in later years as a girls’ home, until demolished. Its history goes further back than my recollections. Mattingley’s school was built in the early seventies (1870’s) at the time denominational schools were done away with and the present State school system was introduced. Mr Albert Mattingley conducted a private school in Errol Street, North Melbourne, a few doors from Queensberry Street, opposite the present State Savings Bank. He then was first headmaster of the Errol Street school. He has a daughter Miss Mabel Mattingley, who some years ago was a well-known singer in the cause of charity. I believe she is living in one of the suburbs. I think the school walls will have some pictures that might interest “J.S.K.”. The tunnel that is under the school started in Parkville between Park Street and Gatehouse Street where the children’s playground on Flemington Road now stands. Parkville at that time was not the model suburb it is today, but was a series of gullies, which have been filled in, and the tunnel was made to carry away the storm waters, which at that time had its exit at the corner of Curzon and Harris Streets, North Melbourne. It has since been enlarged by the City Council, and runs the full length of Harris Street, alongside the North Melbourne football ground, and is the main drain for Parkville and the east portion of North Melbourne, and in the opinion of the writer is the chief cause of the floods in South Kensington, as these storm waters have first to be carried away before the storm waters from Brunswick, Essendon, Coburg, Pascoe Vale arrive along Moonee Ponds Creek.  As they run into a swamp at the western end of dock land they have no outlet. The waters from the suburbs named are then dammed back, which caused the floods in South Kensington. The Government and City Council are shirking their duty in not making a main drain to carry the storm waters straight through to come out about Coode Island, instead of again forming what was formerly a swamp. Reverting to the tunnel under the school, I was one of the explorers? On the first occasion we were without a light. A timid lot we were. But on a second occasion with matches and candle, we were more confident. But never again! The smell was most offensive.


These letters have been collected by members of the Hotham History Project and are known as ‘The Age Letters 1934’. Click here to read the background story.

by Arthur Mattingley & T.M. North Melbourne. First published in The Age Melbourne in July 26th 1934.

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