The original document on which these web pages is based was prepared by Barbara Savill in 1987 and had been bequeathed to Judith Bilszta. Judith donated a copy of these hand written notes to the collections of the Historical Society in December 2008. Melbourne has a surprisingly short history beginning in only 1835, however it was felt that documents such as this are full of interest and deserve to be suitably prepared so as to be shared with a wider interested audience. Barbara described her work as "Brief Notes - on some of the places which, in some way, have been involved with the overall development of Melbourne with brief biographical reference to some of the people who, in different periods, were responsible for decisions of importance to this community between 1835 and 1987." Of course changes continue to occur and therefore it has occasionally been necessary to make additional comments where the buildings or people referenced as current for 1987 required further update.
Several spaces were left in the original notes for the later inclusion of biographical data which has now been added initially from Wikipedia. In order to expand this information in the future it may be beneficialy to research other sources on the internet such as the contemporary newspaper accounts available from the Trove database hosted by the National Library of Australia on http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper
Additionally there are a number of illustrations, plans and maps which have been obtained from the State Library of Victoria’s Website and which may be downloaded, copied and reprinted under the following conditions. "The State Library of Victoria is providing access to this work to support creativity, innovation and knowledge exchange. Although there are no copyright restrictions on this work, the State Library of Victoria does not endorse or support any derogatory uses of this work. In using this work you agree to acknowledge the work's creator and the State Library of Victoria as the source of the work." The main link to this collection of downloadable documents is http://search.slv.vic.gov.au/primo_library/libweb/action/search.do?mode=Basic&vid=MAIN&tab=maps&
In order to complete the following document, which is in nine parts, it may be of benefit to include two plans as follows.
- The first plan comprises the appropriate section of a larger plan printed by Sands and McDougall, and published in 1892, which summarizes who purchased the first plots of land on the Melbourne "grid". This plan includes all of the first land owners including those who may have purchased their plot after the first two land sales in 1837. The direct link to this document is
- The second comes from the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) plans for Melbourne and its suburbs which are also available from the State Library web site.
For our purposes I have used the plans published about 1895 may assist you obtain a feel for the rapid development of Melbourne over just 60 to 70 years. For example the main Melbourne plan can be found on http://digital.slv.vic.gov.au/view/action/nmets.do?DOCCHOICE=2313709.xml&dvs=1415065977777~616&locale=en_US&search_terms=&adjacency=&divType=&usePid1=true&usePid2=true
Other sources will be referenced directly within the following document where appropriate.
Barbara began her notes as follows with a description of how the project was to be presented, plus a short piece covering the background behind the establishment of the settlement of Melbourne.
"For convenience, in order to cover the whole of the immediate city area without overlapping, I have divided the city streets into eight sections commencing from Spencer Street and including the area beyond Spring Street as far as Lansdowne Street between Flinders Street and Victoria Parade as an additional section nine. Within each section I have tried very broadly to make reference to the early years, to some of the personalities and activities particularly associated with it, and with respect to indicate sites which could be considered of some historical significance in relation to some aspect of the phenomenal growth of the city of Melbourne from the point of view of its social, cultural, financial or architectural development. B. J. Savill"
This is shown in the following plan.
"It is a fact that before the Governor of New South Wales had formally consented to settlement at Port Phillip, a large number of people from Van Diemen’s Land had established themselves on the mainland along the banks of the Yarra at the western end of what is now the city of Melbourne. Sir Richard Bourke realised that he must recognise this almost defiant action by the land-hungry settlers from across Bass Straight, but he warned them that “occupation did not signify ownership”. This could only occur after a properly conducted sale of land which would take place as soon as his recognised surveyors had effected what he described as “the measurement of such parts of land near Port Phillip as it may be expedient to dispose of in the first instance”.
After sending Captain William Lonsdale to perform the duties of Police Magistrate and acting Superintendent at Port Phillip, the Governor decided that he must visit this place himself. He Travelled on the ship “Rattlesnake”; one of his party, the assistant Surveyor of New South Wales, Robert Hoddle, arriving in March 1837 to find that nearly five hundred people were already there, living in a variety of makeshift huts or camps.
After a very critical inspection of the locality, Bourke agreed that Lonsdale had done well in approving the site which had been selected by the settlers. He named the new town Melbourne after Lord Melbourne who at that time was the British Prime Minister and instructed the surveyors to lay out a township. Robert Russell, a surveyor who had accompanied Lonsdale had made a cursory survey of the area. He and Hoddle combined in working out a plan which they submitted to the Governor for approval. This town was to be one mile in length and half a mile in breadth. The streets were to be 90 feet wide, crossing at right angles one furlong apart. Nine streets were to run back north from the river. Five longer ones were to cross them running west to east. In this way the area was divided into forty ten-acre blocks.
After a great deal of argument with Hoddle, at Bourke’s insistence the survey was altered to include “little” streets 33 feet wide corresponding to the main streets running west to east. His argument was that horses and carts could thus have access to the rear of the buildings which would be erected on the main streets. This provision reduced the total area for sale so that instead of each allotment measuring two acres, each one contained only one acre 36 perches."
The following sketch shows what appears to be a composite of the first draft plus the later plans for the first land sales and it features the locations of the first “occupants”. It has been taken from the lower section of the plan printed by Sands and McDougall mentioned above.
It can be seen above that there is a creek running down Elizabeth Street, which was to become the source of considerable problems in the winter, and that some of the existing properties such as the temporary lock up are not aligned with the proposed street layout. This is because they have been set out on a north-south alignment whereas the actual plan of Melbourne is essentially parallel with the river "Yarra Yarra", as it was originally known.
First Land Sales
When Robert Hoddle conducted the first land sale in June 1837, no lots in the section bounded Spencer, Flinders, King and Bourke Streets were offered, but 100 allotments were offered in the second and fourth sections along Flinders Street as far as Elizabeth Street and in the sections 12, 13 and 14 between Collins and Bourke Streets bounded by Swanston and William streets. The average price realized was £35. The following plan is also available from the State Library of Victoria and can be used under the same conditions as stated previously. The link is
It may be worth noting that, at this early stage, the lanes are not even named and are just called "back lanes"
Bounded by Flinders Street, Spencer Street, Bourke Street and Williams Street. (including the river bank between Queens Bridge and Spencer Street)
The first allotment to be sold was at the south eastern corner of King and Flinders Streets for which John Pascoe Falkiner paid £32. At the same sale John Batman bought the allotment at the south western corner of Williams Street and Flinders Street for £60. This area was close to the river and, as almost all of the commodities needed by the settlement had to brought either from Van Diemen's Land or from Sydney, many buildings erected were associated with the storage and sale of goods.
Before the survey had been made Fawkner had already erected his first building which was being used as a hotel; but because it was located on a site which Hoddle had decide should be reserved for a Customs House, he was forced to seek another position. The whole block bounded by Flinders, Williams, Collins and Market Streets was reserved by Hoddle for public buildings, so Fawkner bought the block at the south east corner of Collins and Market Street where he erected another building which was named the Shakespeare Hotel.
The people of the settlement became accustomed to buying goods which were auctioned soon after being unloaded from the vessels which could anchor at the riverside. It was soon realised that proper wharf accommodation was needed. As a temporary measure, three waterside allotments adjoining Queen's wharf were offered for sale in August 1841. Allotment 3 covering an area of 1 acre, 14 perches was bought by George Ward Cole; allotments 4 and 5 were about half that large. Skene Craig paid £580 for number 4 and James Dobson paid £568 for number 5. Ward Cole paid £1087 for his block. Each man built a substantial wharf with suitable sheds for the storage of cargo. As the years passed and the the trade increased rapidly, these riverside allotments were acquired again by the Crown and the whole of the riverside area down past Spencer Street was occupied by wharves, each one set set apart for a specific purpose. Of course larger vessels had to anchor either off Port Melbourne or at Willianstown. It seems appropriate that some recognition should be given to this aspect of the early settlement in Melbourne and the personalities whose initiative and enterprise developed an orderly trade in the new colony.
George Ward Cole
As part of this auction trading, John Batman built a substantial two storey building at the south western corner of William Street and Collins Street. It was here that Mr. LaTrobe was commissioned as Superintendent of the Colony on October 2nd 1839. This building was sold by Batmans grandson, Robert Fennel in 1876. It was bought by the A M P Society where a new building was erected and in 1930 was sold to the City Mutual Life Insurance Company which used the AMP structure till it replaced that building with the modern complex in 1972.
The first settlers used the building materials which were available to them, so saw mills provided lumber from the neighboring hills east and north of the township, bluestone was cut from quarries not far away while bricks were made in various places. This resulted in the establishment of all the solid bluestone buildings which were erected along the streets close to the wharves which served as warehouses, bond stores and auction rooms for many years. Some examples of these can still be seen along King Street and in other places.
At the northeastern corner of Collins and King Street a similar building used in this way for many years was demolished a just a few years ago (in ). For a long time in the pre-war years of this century, Sir William McPherson, one of Melbourne's well known philanthropists, had a large engineering show room on the northern side Collins Street between King and Spencer Streets. Nearly half the section bounded by Collins, William Bourke and King Streets was allotted to the Church of England and it was here that St. James Church (later Cathedral) was built. A school was also built on some of this land. After the passing of the Education Act in 1872 the school was closed, but the church remained until it was carefully dismantelled and rebuilt on its present site in King Street opposite the Flagstaff Gardens in 1918. Further along Collins Street a great deal of rebuilding has also occurred.
With the building of Spencer Street Railway Station between 1860 and 1870 most of the buildings along Spencer Street were occupied as small businesses which catered for travellers to and from country districts. Small family hotels were built as a service to people who used country trains which left Spencer Street in the early morning or arrived late at night. Of these, Carlyon's Hotel at the southwestern corner of Bourke and Spencer Streets enjoyed popular support especially from the race-going fraternity. The Hotel Alexander at the corner of Little Collins Street and Spencer, built about 1930 was a more modern building, but in common with most of the businesses in the street, the decline in rail travel has influenced patronage received.
The M. M. B. W. building replaced the Sailor's Home (on the south side of Little Collins Street on the corner with Spencer Street) which was erected on that site in 1863. With the busy life of the port this Sailor's Home was one of the early Melbourne social service ventures to provide comfortable quarters for lonely seamen who had nowhere else to stay when their ships were in port. Along the western end of Bourke Street on the south side the hardware store known as Hudson's Stores is a Relic of the years when this part of Melbourne was influenced by the use of for the cartage of goods as well as people.
All over the world Melbourne's tramway system is known. The pioneer of this form of transport here was Francis Boardman Clapp whose company, the Melbourne Omnibus and Tramway Company, installed the cable tram lines which served Melbourne and many of its inner suburbs for more than forty years. The tramway building built in 1885 at the western end of Bourke Street is still being used. In my opinion some kind of recognition of the founder of the Melbourne and Metropolitan Tramways should be placed on this building.
Personalities/Biographic details to insert for F B Clapp and Sir William McPherson.
Bounded by Spencer Street, LaTrobe Street, William Street (west side) and Bourke Street (north side)
Some allotments in this section were offered at the land sales in November 1837 with many not being bought until as late as 1850 when the average price was £102. For many years the majority of the more distant properties were occupied by workmen employed in nearby sawmills, as wharf labourers or some other manual occupation. When country railways were built, many railway employees found this neighbourhood convenient for their work. In later years this area has largely been used for industrial purposes.
With the development of an export trade in wool and other products, new companies were formed to handle this trade. The yearly race of the speedy wool clippers carrying each years wool clip to London sale rooms led to the establishment of new agencies. The first offices of companies such as Younghusband, Dalgetys, A M L & J ? and others were to be found in either King, William or Queen Streets. The solid bluestone buildings erected as store rooms were to remain until the building boom which followed World War 2. There is a most interesting example of these buildings still to be seen at 573 Lonsdale Street, close to King Street that was originally built by Frederick Cleve as "Cleves Bonded Stores" still stands as solid as the day it was built long ago.
Robert Hoddle paid £500 for the allotment on the northeast corner of Spencer and Bourke Streets and he lived there until his death in in 1881. The property was then used as a timber mill until about 1915.
Bounded by Flinders Street, William Street (east side), Bourke Street (south side) and Elizabeth Street (west side)
This area was really the cradle of the infant settlement because of its close proximity to the river at the point where ships could anchor at what became Queen's Wharf, and because a rocky ledge, near what is now Queen's Bridge, held back the tide the new colonists could rely on a constant supply of good water. They clustered closely in this section, building small mud huts or pitching tents to live in. At the first land sales, all the allotments along Flinders Street between Queen Street and Elizabeth Street were sold; also those facing Collins Street on the northern side of that street from Elizabeth Street to Williams Street ands those facing the southern side of Bourke Street.. The average price for 99 of these allotments was £35. One allotment on the northwest corner of Collins and Queen Streets was reserved for the first Wesleyan Methodist Church.
Naturally the buildings along Flinders Street were shops and stores with direct access to the wharf. It was in this neighbourhood that some years later the manufacturing chemist Felton Grimwade built up their large and prosporous business. The people of Victoria owe a great debt to these partners.
Alfred Felton, who died on the 8th January 1904, left a very large sum of money, known as the Felton Bequest, which provides funds which are used annually to buy works of art from all over the world for the Melbourne art gallery. The Grimwade family have served the people of Victoria over many generations. Russell Grimwade was responsible for having what is called "Captain Cooks Cottage" transported from England to the Fitzroy Gardens in about 1934.
Other notable gifts made by this family to the state include many charitable donations while the family has been represented in the Legislative Council.
Biographical notes about Alfred Felton - Frederick Sheppard Grimwade http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Sheppard_Grimwade
Soon after the first land sale a small hotel licensed as the Lamb Inn was built on the northern side of Collins Street, Years later it was replaced by a larger hotel known as Scott's Hotel. For a long time this was a fashionable and convenient rendey-vous, especially for country and interstate visitors to Melbourne for social events or to attend important financial functions such as the annual wool sales. The large modern building, Temple Court now occupies this site.
Over the years this locality gradually became the financial heart of the city. Banks, insurance companies, building societies and shipping companies became firmly established and many of them erected attractive buildings. The Hall of Commerce, which was the forerunner of the Stock Exchange was built where the Stock Exchange Building is now. Many overseas banking institutions such as the Oriental banks were ready to invest in the new colony and the discovery of gold in 1851 gave added impetus to the financial stability of the state of Victoria which had gained separation from New South Wales in 1851. The influence exerted by all these big financial houses has continued and most of the area between Elizabeth Street and Williams Street on both sides of Collins Street from the south side of Collins Street to the south side of Bourke Street continues to be occupied by powerful financial companies. During the years when the main overseas transport relied on shipping there were very large offices for the various shipping companies also. It was in this neighbourhood that many of Melbourne's growing community of architects were able to demonstrate their ability.
In June 1837 Edward Umpleby paid £61 for the allotment at the northeastern corner of Collins and Queen Streets. On it he built the Angel Inn and was granted license number 6 at the first Licensing Court. In 1843 George Annand and his partner ? Smith bought the Angel Inn, surrendered the license and erected a new two storey building which was used as a general store, Annard Smith and Co. Annand who was a Scot took an active part in the affairs of the colony. He was a member of most committees formed to promote the progress of Melbourne. He was one of those who partitioned the New South Wales Legislative Council to establish voting by ballot for members of the new Victorian Parliament which was to come into being after Separation. He represented the Lonsdale Ward in the Melbourne City Council from 1847 to September 1852. When he left the Queen Street store in 1856, Annands chambers became an office block for various solicitors, gold buyers and other agents, retaining this identity until it was replaced by the E. S. & A. Bank which was built in 1884. In spite of great changes in architecture in the locality this attractive building has been preserved. Also Goode House on the south west corner of Collins and Queen Streets built about 1890 as the head office for the National Mutual Building Society. Both of these buildings give an air of elegance to this part of Collins and Queen Streets.
After the first allotments were sold, many of the buyers began to subdivide their land and as a result there was a great deal of speculation which resulted in the erection of several buildings on the original blocks of land. The effect of this subdivision can be seen all over our city wherever the buildings erected after 1850 still stand. Similarly the maze of narrow lanes and alleys which were the result of subdivision are to be seen in every part of the city. Many of these bear names which refer to early residents or to buildings which once were there.
Along the southern side of of Bourke Street, between Elizabeth and William Streets the types of businesses reflect the importance of the only form of transport available at that time; blacksmiths, wheelwrights, saddlers and harness makers were in constant demand. Many hotels provided a smith as well as stabling for the horses of their patrons. There was a constant demand also for hardware especially after water and gas were provided in the city. Along Bourke Street, just up the hill from Elizabeth Street, a new store was built for the Danks Brothers. In 1857, John, Samuel and Thomas Danks came to Victoria to open a small business in South Melbourne where they quickly gained a reputation as brass founders and manufacturers of wrought iron and gas fittings. In 1862 they moved to 42 Bourke Street West. The name of this firm has been identified with many important engineering projects and their foundry in South Melbourne employed about two hundred men. The name was changed to John Danks and Son and for more than a century this name has been associated with the hardware industry in Victoria. The Danks Bourke Street property is now the the site of the modern hardware store of James McEwan.
In 1854, midway between Elizabeth and Queen Streets, Richard Goldsbrough opened a sale yard where horses and bullock teams were sold by auction. He also began to negotiate sales of grazing and farming properties.
On the southeast corner of Bourke and William Streets William Menzies built a large and luxurious hotel about 1875 ? which especially catered for the wealthy graziers, provincial and interstate visitors. This site is now occupied by the modern building usually referred to as the B H P building.
Along Elizabeth Street from Flinders Street to Bourke Street the principle businesses catered for the every day needs of the community. Shopkeepers included boot makers, hardware salesmen, farm machinery agents, greengrocers, an oyster saloon and at the northwest corner one of the first shops was a general grocery kept by William Townsend which had opened early in 1841 and was there for more than a decade. In the wet weather all of these shops were often affected by flash floods which poured down the natural gully between the hills at the western and eastern ends of the locality. This problem continued for many years. Every little shop provided a footbridge over the street gutters and in the very wet conditions and enterprising drayman ferried people across “Townsend’s Corner” for a halfpenny per person. A huge underground drainage system was undertaken by the city council in about 1880 and this overcame the long standing problem. Further along Elizabeth Street there were shops where books, stationary and fancy goods were sold. In almost all cases at first these shops, like many others everywhere else, had small residences at the rear or upstairs. There was no sewerage, water was taken from the river and the shops were lit by kerosene lamps until the gas company was formed in 1852. The well known hardware company of James McEwan & Co. commenced business in a small shop in Elizabeth Street during the gold rush years. He provided the picks shovels and wheelbarrows for the eager prospectors heading for the diggings. The business prospered and it survived the financial slumps associated with droughts, floods, bush fires and the famous land boom years when its managing director lost all of his personal fortune because many of the trading banks were forced to close. Since World War 2 James McEwan left Elizabeth Street to take over the Danks property in Bourke Street.
A book store which catered for Victorian readers, even providing a state wide postal lending library was opened by George Robertson. Later it became a partnership between Robertson and Mullens. Under this name the business continued until it was taken over by Angus and Robertson in 1960.
Another firm which has been in business in this part of Elizabeth Street is the Melbourne Sports Depot. It first opened in about 1875 when bicycles were a new form of transport. For more than a century now it has been patronized by all sections of sports lovers in Victoria.
In the years following the gold rush, along the narrow street subdivision of Flinders Lane and Little Collins Street resulted in dozens of small businesses being opened. The invention of the treadle sewing machine led to the establishment of many small clothing factories in these narrow streets. In some cases importers could convert the buildings that they occupied so that the ground floor would provide imported dress and tailoring materials, while upstairs there would be small sewing rooms where women were employed to make up what were often called “shop goods”. Among the warehouse merchants were people like Sargoods, Patterson, Lang and Bruce, D & W Murray. Many of these men were active members of the trade organisations such as the Chamber of Commerce.
Biographical notes about Goldsbrough, Robertson & Mullens, Sargood, Patterson Lang and Bruce, Murray, George Annard and other warehouse operators if available.
Bounded by William Street (east side), Bourke Street (north side) and Elizabeth Street (west side) and LaTrobe Streets
At the second land sale, held on November 1st 1837, part of the section between Bourke and Lonsdale Street was offered, the remainder having been reserved by Hoddle for Public purposes with on allotment facing Bourke Street being granted for use as a Jewish Synagogue. The average price was £43. Between Lonsdale and La Trobe Streets the entire block still contains buildings used for Government purposes.
During the gold rush era this was the site of the Treasury Building to which the gold from all the gold fields was brought in horse-drawn drays escorted by a detachment of soldiers or specially recruited mounted police. All of these buildings between Lonsdale and La Trobe Streets in themselves constitute a memorial to the very early years of settlement and in some way seem to symbolise the vision and enterprise of the authorities at that time. In those early years the area was dominated by the high ground of what came to be known as Flagstaff Hill. It played an important role in the life of the people. On a tall mast erected on the hill, flags would be hoisted to advise the people of the town of shipping movements. Different colours were used to indicate the places from which the ships came – a flag shape denoted a ship from overseas while a pennant was the signal for an interstate vessel. The area is known to us as the Flagstaff Gardens and a Pioneers Memorial there is a reminder that the first persons who died in the colony were buried there.
Along William Street the first Exhibition Building was erected about 1855 for a big display of colonial resources held in 1856. (?) The Exhibition was replaced by the Royal Mint in 1872 and the Law Courts nearby were opened in 1884. It was natural that the legal profession would gravitate to this neighbourhood as a matter of convenience and that the first buildings which had been used should be replaced. In recent years ever more imposing buildings now occupy the area. Many of these are used as chambers for members of the legal fraternity and the names of some of these buildings, such as Owen Dixon Chambers are a reminder of the distinguished Victorians who have worked in this locality. In the area where St James Cathedral once stood a modern building known as St James Building is the only reminder of the place where the church used to be.
In Bourke Street, between Elizabeth and Queen Streets, in 1841, two farmers from Plenty – J B Kirk and John Hayten (Hagler ?) bought an acre of land which the surrounded with a high post and rail fence Kirk was granted an auctioneer’s license and they used this paddock as a sale yard where horses were auctioned. For the next eighty years this is how that land was used. They named their sale yards Kirk’s Bazaar. The early residents of the colony gave enthusiastic patronage to this venture and within a few years the crude open air sales ring was replaced by a large brick-walled structure which provided stabling, fodder supplies, office space and similar amenities around the perimeter of the property while still retaining a large open space in the centre where animals were paraded in front of the prospective buyers before being auctioned. Kirks Bazaar was known all over Australia wherever horse lovers congregate. Along the Little Bourke Street frontage there was a blacksmith’s forge with a two roomed brick cottage provided for the blacksmith who was paid “£1 per week with quarters”.
Later owners of this business included W B C Yuille whose name was also associated with the Victorian Racing Club for many years. The last owners of Kirk’s Bazaar were Campbell and Sons. In 1925 this famous landmark for almost a century disappeared when the property was subdivided and sold. As part of this subdivision, the right of way, Hardware Street at the western end of the subdivision was created. In my opinion some form of recognition of this time honoured institution which served the people of Victoria all through the years preceding the coming of motorised transport should be made as a tribute to this historic enterprise.
Further up the Bourke Street hill between Queen and William Street, St Patrick’s Hall had been built in 1849 and it was here that the first Victorian Legislative body assembled after its election in 1853. This building has also disappeared but it was close to Synagogue Lane which is now the only reminder that a Jewish Synagogue was built nearby about the same time.
At the corner of William and Bourke Streets, a large nineteenth century building, lately classified by the National Trust, was erected by the Goldsborough Company as their main business premises in 1862. It adds dignity and a sense of permanency to this section of the Melbourne financial area.
The frontage of Elizabeth Street between Bourke and La Trobe Streets has been occupied by many businesses which reflect the history of road transport in Victoria. Opposite the Post Office, McGill’s News agency has been in business there since 1856. Further along the street bicycle shops were opened soon after these machines were introduced to the people of Melbourne in 1969 and this tradition has been maintained now for more than a century. A family name associated with this industry from its inception is that of Finlay Brothers who retired a few years ago. Their great-grandfather, Mr James Finlay, a blacksmith who lived in Fitzroy, was the man responsible for the manufacture of a two wheeled vehicle which he named “The Barb”. It should be explained that this was the name of horse which had won the Melbourne Cup in November 1868. For almost a century, the Finlay family was actively engaged in the manufacture and sale of bicycles and their business premises at 358 to 360 Elizabeth Street became the meeting place for cycle enthusiasts all the year round.
On the northern side of Lonsdale Street, going up the hill from Elizabeth Street, there is a large off-street car parking business. In the 1850s this was the site of the stables for the Cobb & Co. Coach services with a number of small cottages facing Little Lonsdale Street to accommodate some of the grooms and drivers. After the introduction of railway services to country districts caused the decline in coach lines, these premises became redundant and about 1883 the property was bought by Edward Duckett. In 1849 this man had been employed as a blacksmith at Kirk’s Bazaar. With thrift and a shrewd business ability he had opened a small hardware store in Lonsdale Street on land now occupied as part of the Myer Lonsdale Street store. His trade outgrew this small building and on the site of Cobb’s old stable he built a large 5 storey store to which he transferred his business. In 1888 it was claimed to be the most modern building of its kind in Melbourne. Edward Duckett died in 1902 but the business continued to be managed by his sons. In recent years the building was demolished to make way for the latest phase in catering for motor traffic. The property is still owned by the Duckett family. This is only one of the many stores which shows the prosperity achieved through the hard work of the early settlers.
At the northwest corner of Elizabeth and La Trobe Streets stands the building known for many years as the Argus Building. In 1846 a daily newspaper named the “Argus” commenced publication in Melbourne. Its premises were in Collins Street approximately sited near that part of the City Square where the Bourke and Wills statue stands. Over the years the newspaper took its place in the community as a leader in giving the people information not only on local affairs, but as a critic or supporter of movements associated with the growth and development of the State.
In 1925 the management decided to transfer their works to a new site in larger premises. The history of the newspaper industry in Melbourne was briefly outlined in a mural which was placed on the wall in the main entrance hall of the new building. Although this newspaper ceased publication in 1955, and the property has since been sold, it is to be hoped that the brief summary of Melbourne’s newspapers as outlined in this mural will be retained by the present owners of the building.
Flinders, Elizabeth (west side), Bourke (south side) and Russell (east side) Streets.
At the second land sale in November 1837 all of the allotments bounded by Flinders, Swanston, Collins and Elizabeth Streets were offered for sale and the average price being £43. In the area bounded by Flinders, Russell, Collins and Elizabeth Streets about half of the Flinders Street frontage was reserved, at first, for public purposes. There was a proposal that a gaol and a court house should be placed there, but this was not proceeded with. Then it was for a time as a hay and corn market. Finally the corner was granted to the Church of England and the first St Paul's Church and school was erected about 1850.
Along Flinders Street importers and agents took advantage of the site being close to the wharves to build warehouses and small factories. Many of the buildings which were first used as stores and warehouses became clothing factories after the invention of the sewing machine. The Sargood family came to Melbourne in 1850 and founded one of these soft goods businesses in Flinders Street. A son, William, was to become the first Minister for Defence in the Victorian Parliament and his knowledge of men and military affairs was to have a profound influence on the military forces in Victoria up to the time of Federation of the States. In the section between Elizabeth Street and Swanston Street William DeGraves used his building as a flour mill. This pioneer came from Hobart in 1839. For more than twenty-five years he was actively engaged in a variety of business ventures. As well as being a miller, he was an importer, a director of one of the first banks in addition to having an interest in the railway companies and a gas company. After building a very large bond store at the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets, he lost his fortune in a series of unsuccessful ventures in 1869. All his properties were sold to pay his debts and he went back to Hobart where he died in 1883. He is remembered by the naming of the narrow lane known as DeGraves Street and also the subway of that name which leads to Flinders Street Station.
Another rash venture in Flinders Street was an elaborate three story building built by John Hodgson and known to the colonists as Hodgson's Folly. It was later altered and became the Port Phillip Hotel. About 1880 the Mutual Cooperative Store replaced part of the spectacular building. It was a very convenient shoppers centre for train travellers and closed about twenty-five years ago.
The corner block where Prince's Bridge Hotel is now was bought by John Batman for £100. On this site he built a fourteen roomed house which was let to Mrs. Nicola Ann Cook. part of the house was her family home and the rest used in about 1852 as a school. It was probably the first school opened in Melbourne. the younger members of the Batman family were among the children who were educta\ed there. Across Swanston Street and beyond St Paul's there was a large timber yard known as Cannon's Yards. It was there for many years. About 1880 Ball and Welsh opened a large department store which, like the Mutual Store, competed for the custom of train travellers. In 1895 the Melbourne Herald which had become an evening paper leased the former DeGrave's warehouse at the corner of Flinders and Russell Streets and used these premises for their publishing works until the present Herald buildings were erected further east in Flinders Street in 1923.
As in every other part of Melbourne, after the land was first auctioned, there was speculative buying and selling with the result that along the narrow streets that had been originally planned to give access to the rear of the buildings facing the wider streets, buildings having a frontage to the "little" streets were erected. These buildings serving all kinds of purposes - coach builders, tailors, bootmakers and many others all crowded into these narrow thoroughfares. All over the city this occurred and between these buildings easements and alleyways were created to provide access to the rear of these tenements. Gradually Little Flinders Street assumed a new character. From Queen Street to Russell Street it became the recognised wholesale trading area - all kinds of imported goods, crockery, glassware, manchester goods, clothing and dress materials were the main articles for sale. Buyers from retail stores in the suburbs and then country towns would all converge on "the Lane" as it came to be known. Commercial travellers employed by these various warehouses would travel the length and breadth of the state with samples of the goods available from their respective firms and a vigorous trade between country stores and the warehouses provided employment for hundreds of men.
As a result the Commercial Travellers Association was formed about 1885 and eventually their club rooms were set up in Commerce House in Flinders Street. This form of trading gradually changed after the improvement of motor transport and an improved telephone service over the past forty years. Among the principle wholesale traders were firms such as Patterson, Lang and Bruce ? and David W Murray. (Biographical details of Warehousemen if available.)
John Batman bought the land at the corner of Collins and Swanston Street for £60 and his friend John McNall ? bought the next block facing Collins Street for £44. Batman built a solid two storey building at the corner which he leased to be used as a hardware store. John McNall opened a butcher's shop.
Soon after the Melbourne City Council was elected the properties on all the streets were numbered. In the streets running east and west; Flinders, Collins, Bourke, Lonsdale and La Trobe the numbers began at Elizabeth Street so that the allotments from there to Spring Street were defined as, for example, Collins Street East while those towards Spencer Street were, For example Collins Street West. Thus the south western corner of Swanston and Collins Streets became 60 Collins Street East. After John Batman's death 1839 all of his properties were sold and in 1845 This corner became Walter Powell's Hardware Store. It was to continue as a hardware store until 1902. The proprietors then were Chambers and Seymour who moved to a new store at 247 Flinders Street and sold the Collins Street corner to Gustave Dammon who had first opened a Tobacconist's shop on the opposite side of Swanston Street in 1859. In 1884 he moved to the north west corner of Swanston Street where he built up a very successful business. In 1888 the City Council changed the numbers in the streets running east to west to start from Spring Street and continue all the way to Spencer Street. This eliminated the old confusing east or west numbering and 60 Collins Street became 221 Collins Street.
In 1902 Gustave Dammon bought Chambers and Seymour's property at this address and for the next sixty years the corner was known to people all over Victoria as Dammon's Corner. About 1966 a modern multistory complex was built on this site by the Westpac Bank. Is it too fanciful to suggest that Gustave Dammon's long association with this corner has some claim to be remembered?
The site where the Manchester Unity Building now stands was bought by Henry Howey in 1837 for £45. It was sold to Germain Nicholson in 1845 and opened a grocery store which was there until 1884 when he moved to Elizabeth Street. After Mr A Damman ? vacated the premises in 1902, a new building was erected and the ground floor business was a jeweler's shop conducted by Stewart Dawson & Co. until 1932 when the present Manchester Unity building was erected.
Along both sides of Collins Street the same pattern of small shops were to be seen until the great prosperity of the state after the gold rush era led to a great rebuilding program on both sides of Collins Street about 1870. While the Banks concentrated on the south side of Collins Street, the shops on the other side offered luxury goods - furs, clothing and musical instruments. Allans and Kilners were very well known names in that area as the places to buy a grand piano or to be taught music or singing.
For many years between 1865 and 1890 it was part of the social scene to shop or promenade on the north side of Collins Street between Swanston and Queens Street. This was dubbed by writers and reporters as "Doing the Block". At first this craze was indulged in on Saturdays from about midday until about three o'clock. Football clubs complained that the Saturday afternoon matches were prevented from starting until after three o'clock because players liked to take part in in this weekly stroll. About 1875 it became an important event in the social whirl to be seen descending from one's carriage in that area on Thursday afternoon between 3 and 4 o'clock. Exclusive clothing stores along the street such as Mobray and Lush catered for a select clientele who seemed to consider that Thursday afternoon was THE TIME to be seen entering such sacred portals. It became such an extravagant social event that even Punch made cutting references to this affectation.
The first owner of the north east corner of Collins Street and Elizabeth Streets was James Ross who paid £32 for it. A few months later he sold it to Alexander Brunton. A two storey brick shop was built on the site and was leased to Michael Cashmore who, with his partner Samuel Emmanuel, opened a drapery store which they named Victoria House. in 1844 this partnership was dissolved and Michael Cashmore carried on the business. In addition he found time to be a meat inspector for seventeen years, a director of the first gas company, a trustee of the Jewish section of the first Melbourne Cemetery as well as being a member of the Melbourne Town Council in 1842 and becoming the councillor for the La Trobe Ward after the City Council was created in 1849. Much more could be written about the first shop keeper at number 1 Collins Street. He left this site in 1875.
In 1876 the executors of estate negotiated a new building lease with William Alston ? a tobacconist who replaced the drapery store with a larger and more up to date building. In 1903, still under the terms of the building lease, Mr Alston ? erected the present building which is on the corner. When he acquired the freehold of the next allotment on the Collins Street frontage he made further additions to the building. In 1912 he purchased the freehold from the Brunton Estate. The site was known for many years in this century as Alston's corner.
The Block Arcade nearby, built about 1908, was one more of these small shop arcades which had been well liked in Melbourne ever since the Queen's Arcade was first built at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale Streets in 1850.
Between Swanston Street and Russell Street along the south side of Collins Street, St Enock's Church built in 1850 was on the site where the Auditorium Building stood until recently being converted to a men's wear store. Further along there were millinery shops and similar fashion houses until they were replaced by the types of buildings which are there now.
On the other side of the street, next to the Town Hall, stands the Atheneum Building. On this site in 1841 the first "Mechanics Institute and School of Arts" was erected and from this institution a great deal of cultural development of Melbourne was generated. The founding members were were men from all walks of life - tradesmen, scholars, professional men and business men who, from the earliest years encouraged the establishment of libraries and of cultural interests all over the state. In 1872 the name was changed to Melbourne Atheneum and a new building was erected. For more than 140 years this society has consistently and continually been identified with the cultural development of this state. In my opinion some recognition should be given to the long service rendered to the people of Victoria by the Melbourne Atheneum.
Along the south side Bourke Street, between Elizabeth and Russell Streets many changes have occurred. Big jewellery, crockery and glassware stores have replaced buildings which once pioneered moving pictures. For many years Coles Book Arcade was a Burke Street landmark. In 1927 it was replaced by the famous "nothing over 2/6" variety store of G J Coles which closed this year. The Royal Arcade, built in 1869 has survived and another business long associated with this section of Bourke Street was Edments. While at the corner the Leviathan Building has been a clothing store since about 1865.
East of Swanston Street on the south side for nearly seventy years the variety theater the Tivoli was a popular entertainment house. Many Australian musicians or singers were given an opportunity to gain experience or achieve success by appearing at the Tivoli. Nearer to Russell Street another variety theater named the Bijou closed about 1940.
Personalities Damman, Cashmore, Germain Nicholson and Alston.
Elizabeth Street (east side) La Trobe Street, Russell Street (west side) and Bourke Street (north side)
The opening of the Post Office at the corner of Elizabeth Street and Bourke Street in 1841 was a factor in attracting retailers to open shops in the neighbourhood. In the years between 1841 and 1857 Bourke Street between Queen Street and Russell Street began to assume a character of its own and as time passed, it was to become the people's street. Many firms were to have a long association with retail trade among them being Robinson and Moffatt and Buckley and Nunn. Both these stores commenced about 1855. Robertson and Moffatt were bought by Sydney Myer in 1922 after he had absorbed at least four other businesses with a frontage to Bourke Street and all of these properties are now part of the Myer Bourke Street Store. A new building for Mars? Buckley was erected in 1907 and this is now known as David Jones. Further along new clothing stores have covered the site of Cobb & Co's booking office. Across Swanston Street other well known stores such as Joy? and Gibson, Treadways and others have long since disappeared. A memorial tablet at the entrance to Coles Bourke Street Store briefly records the life of the Theater Royal which was there from 1853 until it was replaced by a drapery store about 1927.
With the coming of motion pictures in the early years of this century, many of the shops and halls along this part of Bourke Street were converted to picture houses. Many were ill equipped or cruddy furnished, but they met the needs of the film goers. It was not until the 1930s that more luxurious cinemas such as the Capitol, the Regent or the State Theater in Flinders Street were opened. The preservation of these places has not survived the competition of television.
With the coming of motor transport some of the pioneers of this industry opened show rooms along Russell Street.
In Little Bourke Street on the south side of the street between Elizabeth and Swanston Street, the big drapery stores extended back to Little Bourke Street, but on the north side there were a good many small family businesses. Melbourne's first Mayor, Henry Condell had a brewery near the Elizabeth Street corner until he went back to England about 1852. It is not generally Known that the Town Hall clock was presented by his son after the new Town Hall was built in 1867.
Other small businesses include plumbers, tinsmiths, bootmakers, saddlers and others. Some had been there since 1855; but in 1924 when Sydney Myer wanted to build what was to be known as the Lonsdale Street Store; all of these little businesses were forced to move or retire. There was John Coutie ? who had opened his boot making shop at 19 Little Bourke Street East in 1854. He had to move across Elizabeth Street to the south west corner of Little Bourke and Elizabeth Streets when Robertson and Moffatt extended their store and he was in his new shop for more than sixty years. This name can still be seen on that building. Pettit Bros. had been basket makers at number 5. They moved out to Richmond. At number 21 a leather worker's business specialising in high quality workmanship in the production of saddles, harness and other kinds of leather goods had been bought by Charles Bully and Edward John in 1862. Fifteen years later Charles Bully with a nephew to help was carrying on the family business. In 1928 Frederick Bully, who was now the proprietor, transferred his business to 380 Elizabeth Street just past La Trobe Street. This building had originally been a hotel licensed under various names from the days of Cobb & Co. until it was delicensed in 1918. Mr. Bully adapted the building to meet the requirements of his workmen. In 1987 this business, now conducted by Robert and Maxwell Bully, is still as busy as ever. There can be very few businesses in the heart of the city which can claim this long family association with the same business and in the same locality. Is it reasonable to suggest that some recognition be paid to to these long-time city rate payers?
On the east side of Swanston Street in 1856 there were small shops all along Little Bourke Street up past Russell Street with several boarding houses on both sides of the street. Withe the decline in alluvial mining, hundreds of prospectors drifted back to try to find work in Melbourne. Among them were large numbers of Chinese migrants who had been very cruelly treated on the Ovens River gold fields. Looking for somewhere to to get cheap accommodation they gradually began to occupy premises in Little Bourke Street. By 1864 most of the buildings between Swanston Street, across Russell Street, on to Stephen Street were used as businesses conducted by Chinese residents. There were tea and coffee importers, cabinet makers, a general store, etc. Chong Che Cheong was a Chinese doctor, Yen Chuen a herbalist and chemist, Sun King Cheong a general merchant and importer. This was the beginning of what is now called Melbourne's China Town. In 1895 Chinese business men of all kinds occupied all the premises between Exhibition Street (formally Stephen Street) and Swanston Street. For a short time about 1875 there was a Joss House not far from Swanston Street. The Methodist and Prebyterian Churches conducted Chinese missions, one at 194 Little Bourke Street and the other near Brown's Lane. There was also a Chinese club house.
One of the most influencial business men in Melbourne was Kong Meeng Lowe. Born in Penang in 1831 he was well educated and at the age of 16 he went to Mauritius for further study. He was a gifted linguist being able to read and write six languages. He came to Melbourne in 1854 as the owner of several vessels sailing between Australia and China. In 1860 he married a girl from Tasmania. His home for many years was in Clarendon Street East Melbourne. His first office as part of his business of importing was in Flinders Lane, but he very soon moved to 177 Little Bourke Street East. Besides supporting all the philanthropic achtivities in Melbourne, he became especially interested in the welfare of the Chinese migrants and was a prime mover in the establishment of the Chinese Club House. He consistently supported every activity which worked for the betterment of living and working conditions for the Chinese folk living and working in Melbourne. Kong Meeng Lowe died in 1888. He was buried in the Church of England section of the Melbourne General Cemetery at Carlton. His funeral was attended by all sections of the community; shop keepers, financiers, shipping agents, members of all professional, legal and academic groups, plus many others. All paid tribute to this fine citizen. It seems fair to say that he was one of Victoria's great pioneers.
Along Lonsdale Street, between Elizabeth and Russell Streets, a somewhat different atmosphere prevailed. Along the south side of the street as far as Swanston Street there were a number of small hardware or leathergoods shops. The Queen's Arcade which was built in 1850 was not well patronised and within a decade had become a timber yard. Across Swanston Street the Melbourne Hospital had been built and was growing as the city grew. St James Church was near Elizabeth Street and the Wesley Church near Russell Street. Some of the doctors who were connected with the hospital built their homes along the eastern end of Lonsdale Street. When the Kew Melbourne Hospital was built and finally occupied after World War 2, it was decided to transfer the unique Queen Victoria Hospital ( staffed and managed by women for women as a memorial to Queen Victoria) to the old Melbourne Hospital. On the land reserved by Hoddle for the hospital, which was still vacant, one of Melbourne's great philanthropists provided the money for what has been known as the Jessie McPherson Hospital. Sir William McPherson's generous gift provided this annex to the "Queen Vic". This hospital has served the people of Victoria since 1847. When the new hospital is opened at Clayton the site will be used for some other purposes. Should we allow all those years of service, experiments, dedication and compassion to be forgotten?
The library next to the hospital came into existence in 1856 and for many years housed the nucleus of what is now the State Art Gallery. Across La Trobe Street that enormous educational institution known as R. M. I. T. had a humble beginning when, in 1887 its founder Francis Ormond, in spite of public apathy, persevered with his dream to provide technical education for the sons of tradesmen or workmen and opened what he called The Working Man's College. This man's work in this field and in many others should not be forgotten.
What is now known as the Magistrates Court at the corner of Russell and La Trobe Streets was first built as Melbourne's Law Courts in 1843. The present building was erected in 1902.
Personalities; Francis Ormond Kong Meeng Lowe.
Flinders Street, Russell Street (east side), Bourke Street (south side) and Spring Street
Above the Herald and Weekly Times building, the eastern end of Flinderes Street was a residential area until early in the 20th century when large motor show-rooms were built there.
Along the eastern side of Russell Street, between 1870 and 1880, the headquarter's of Melbourne's detective force was established. When this department moved some years later, one of the new buildings erected in this neighbourhood was to be used as a hostel for young women under the auspices of the Young Women's Christian Association. This organisation was there for many years after the hostel was closed.
At the corner of Collins and Russell Streets, Dr. Beaney, one of the surgeons who practised in Melbourne, built his home and used part of it as a private hospital. This building was later aquired as the premises of the Alexandra Club and within the last few years has been incorporated into a new multi story complex which occupies most of the land facing both Collins Street and Flinders Lane. On both sides of Flinders Lane there had been buildings which were used either as small warehouses, doctor's rooms, or small hospitals. Some of these being small maternity hospitals and were where the Collins Street practitioners treated their patients. One building may be specially noted. In order to help stamp out the cruel disease of tuberculosis, the Federal Government introduced a plan for free X-ray examination. Milton House in Flinders Lane was equiped to provide this service and it must be very rewarding to all those who worked in this program to know that the incidence of this illness has been almost completely eliminated.
Both side of Collins Street from Russell Street to Spring Street were mainly doctor's residences as early as 1870. Two very exclusive hotels; the Oriental on the south side and the Oxidental on the north side catered for wealthy provincial, interstate and overseas visitors. These buildings and many others dissapeared with the ruthless post war building programme which has been allowed to be carried out in this neighbourhood. A few of the old pre 1880 houses have been allowed to survive, Dr. Howitt's house at number 1 Collins Street is one of them and its restoration by the State Government has been welcomed. On the opposite corner Andraston? House was renovated many years ago and retains its character as the site for doctor's rooms. Just below Anzac House, which came into existence after World Wae 1, stands Portland House. This building was erected by one of Melbourne's early financiers as a wedding present for one of his daughters in 1873. Henry Miller (often dubbed Money Miller) was born in England in 1809. With his parents he came to Australia in 1833 and came to Melbourne in 1840. He commenced business as a money lender in Collins Street with rooms next door to the Argus building. He was active in all kinds of business enterprises, was one of the founders of the Bank of Victoria and became a Member of Parliament. When he died in in 1887 his fortune of more than £2,000,000 was divided among his family of six sons and three daughters. One of his sons bequeathed a number of large and valuable paintings to the State Art Gallery.
Further down stands the Melbourne Club; its architecture an example of what architects in Melbourne were designing in 1858.
Discussing the character of the various streets in Melbourne in 1870, a writer said said "Collins Street is too exclusive in its very variety - not altogether aristocratic but, when it ceases to be Fasionable, it goes into a business or profession with a vengence. Its two ends are intensly merchantile or intensly medical. Its rows of shops are all for the upper ten thousand ? familys ? and where the shops terminate, some other provision is made for a class equally wealthy. The medicoes at the Melbourne Club end are somehow balanced by the merchants of Union Club at the other. Midway, even the retailers are wholesale in their responsibility. The very sweet shops have an air; and the proprietors wrap up copper change in paper."
The south side of Bourke Street in this area was dominated for almost a century by the Eastern Market which was situated on the corner of Stephen Street (later Exhibition Street) The first market opened there as a wholesale fruit and vegitable market during the early years of the gold rush. The new market covered an area of 2 1/4 acres was built in 1875 and was used in various ways until it was replaced by the Southern Cross Hotel soon after World War 2.
Alongside the market the Eastern Arcade had been built on the land where the luxurious and traditional, but ill-fated, Haymarket Theater had been built by George Coppin in 1863. In this arcade, 42 shops on the ground floor and 32 on the first floor housed several small drapers, bootmakers, herbalists, tailors, dressmakers, milliners, confectioners, as well as a chiropodists, a coach proprieter, a rubber stamp maker, a tea room, wine saloon and, at the entrance, the Eastern Arcade Hotel. Further along towards Spring Street the Polytechnic Institute had been built as a place of entitainment. Later, for a time, it became the city headquarters for the Y M C A and when that organisation moved out, it was taken over by the Salvation Army about 1894. It has been the property of this body ever since. The old White Hart Hotel at the corner of Spring and Bourke Streets since it was licensed not later than 1853. After many alterations and extensions it has finally become an annex of the Windsor Hotel - first erected as a non-licensed Temperence Hotel named the Grand. Like the Federal Coffee Palace at the corner of King and Collins Streets, the Melbourne Coffee Palace in Bourke Street and the Victoria in Little Collins Street, it was an attempt by temperence supporters to provide unlicensed hotel accomodation for families during the years before the turn of the century. Influenced probably by the dreadful depression and poverty of the infamous Land Boom period this venture was not very successful, and when a license was granted, the Grand became the Hotel Windsor.
On the south side of Bourke Streetnew buildings housed the large furniture firms where hire purchase as a form of easy finance was first introduced to Melbourne by the Nathan family which has had a long association with the Melbourne business world.
Bourke Street (north side), Spring Street, La Trobe Street and Russell Street (east side)
On the northern side of Bourke Street, a norrow right of way named Market Lane is a reminder of the Eastern Market that was diagonally across the street. The building beside this lane, now a cafe was built as a hotel in 1867. Its bluestone foundations and solid brick walls give it an air of permanency. In design it is similar to many other buildings being designed by such well known architects as Reed and Baines, John Hill or Nathan Barnet at that time. The land in this neighbourhood had been sbmitted for sale in 1840 and the average price for a block was about £440. The first business on this particular allotment was a butcher's shop, the proprietor being Patrick O'Brien. He was soon followed by Henry Bignall who was there from 1850 until 1867 as a butcher. Further along the street other butchers were in business at various times. T K Bennet and Woodcock were well known and William Angliss was an even later butcher in that neighbourhood. The many generous gifts given by Sir William Angliss to the people of Victoria should be remembered. They include the William Angliss Food Trades School, the hospital at Ferntree Gully and others.
Biographical details of Sir William Angliss
From the early 1850s much of this area became identified withy entertainment in Melbourne. Between Exhibition and Spring Street the Salle de Valentino was a favourite resort of musical evenings as early as 1851 and Rowes American Circus was attracting audiences round the corner near Lonsdale Street. In 1853 Astleys Amphitheatre with a riding school next door occupied the site where the Princess Theatre is now. A theatre of some kind has been on that site now for 130 years. The Palace Theatre built close to the Bourke Street corner about 1900 has been used as a religious centre for some years now.
At the corner of Exhibition and Lonsdale Streets, where the Comedy Theatre is now, George Coppin erected hi Olympic Theatre in 1854. This was a prefabricated iron building commonly known as the "Iron Pot". It was burned down in 1866.
Along the other side of Ehibition Street a row of small dingy shops and houses were pulled down to be replaced by a theatre which we know as Her Majesty's. The Comedy opened in 1928.
Along Russell Street and Exhibition Streets other small shops, which had outlived their usefulness, were replaced by show rooms where motor car agents plied their trade. Amomg them such businesses in the motor world as Tarrant, Kellow Falkener and many others will be remebered.
Biographical details about these personalities.
Some reference may be made to Gordon House and the men who were responsible for it - George Coppin, E L Fox (perhaps Zox?) and William Forster. The career of Coppin in the theatre is well known, but he was also an idealist always ready to support any philanthropic cause which was for the betterment of some dissadvantaged group. As well as being the founder of the Old Colonist's Home at North Fitzroy, he had established a fund for sick and out of work actors and was active in other similar matters. In 1887 he became associated with E L Zox, Francis Ormond and William Forster in founding the Gordon Boys Institute which was an undenominational and non-sectarian organisation planned to help homeless boys in Melbourne. He and his associates chose the name of Gordon as a tribute to the memory of the hero of Khartoum, General Gordon, hoping that the bravery of this unfortunate man would be an example and encouragement to their protegees. These were the years of hardship associated with the Land Boom and there was a great deal of poverty and unemployment. In providing a refuge for the homeless boys these compassionate men were trying to deal with one of the terrible problems of thase difficult years. E L Zox was a member of the Victorian Parliament. Like Coppin he was an idealist and was keen supporter of all temperence movements in Melbourne. The third member of this group was William Forster who came to Melbourne as a child with his parents in 1852. He served an apprenticeship as a saddler and became a very successful business man. He saw the need for giving encouragement to the teenage sons of working people and in 1883 had founded the Try Boys Society. This body set up club rooms in suburbs such as Prahran and South Melbourne where boys could receive tuition in hand crafts such as carpentry, boot repairing, etc. as well as enjoying the company of their contenporaries without getting into mischief. In 1886 he formed the City Newsboys Society with similar objectives. It is easy to understand that his sympathies were readilly enlisted to support the building of Gordon House. While Francis Ormond was not one of the founders, he made more than one large donation towards the cost of the building. It is a sad reflection on our society that after the deaths of these generous pioneers, the aims and objectives of the Institute were forgotten and for many years, Gordon House was allowed to slide down and down until it became a cheap doss house for derelicts. Since World War 2 the premises have been remodelled as a modern commercial venture. Although it retains the name it was given a century ago, it seems that the origin of this place has been long forgotten.
Eastern Hill - Beyond Spring Street, along Gisbourne Street, Across to McArthur Place to Lansdowne Street, Gipps Street, Albert Street and Victoria Parade.
A good deal of this neighbourhood has been associated with churches and other cultural activities since the early years of settlement and to some extent reflects the cosmopolitan character of the early Melbourne community.
St Paul's Church has been on its present site since Mr La Trobe laid the foundation stone on June 18th 1846. From the steps of this church Melbourne was proclaimed a city.
In later years a jewish Synagogue was built opposite St Peter's facing Albert Street. In 1898 a row of small shops and houses were demolished to be replaced with the headquarters of the Melbourne Fire Brigade. Around the corner in Victoria Parade the Salvation Army built its training barracks early this century (20th)
In 1857 a grand procession and ceremony celebrated the beginning of Melbourne's reticulated water supply from the Yan Yean Reservour. The main valve for the supply was turned on at the spot which was almost the highest point on Eastern Hill. Many years later with the increased supply of water from other reservours, the old "Water Tank" was removed and the site is now occupied by the Eye and Ear Hospital.
Along Albert Street the Victorian Artists Society building was erected about 1869. This society has retained its palce as a support for Victorian artists ever since.
On land reserved for church premises for the Roman Catholic Church, St Peter's Cathedral was built. Lack of money made this a long term project and its imposing spires were not added until 1954 as part of the Melbourne Centenary celebrations. A girl's school - the Catholic Ladies which was built near the cathedral was pulled down about 25 years ago.
Across Gipps Street, at the corner what is sometimes called Tasma Terrace, the little old bluestone Lutheran Church with its school has been there ever since it was built in 1874. For many years altenate services were conducted in German. Behind this church the Unitarian Church built a little later, faced Gipps Street. It was pulled down about 10 years ago. The residences for the ministers of both these churches were built along the street beside the Lutheran Church. A large area of land in this block had been granted to the Prebyterian Church in 1850. On part of this land the (?Chalmers?) Church had been built and during the ministry of Reverend Adam Cairns this church had a very large congregation. The building could seat one thousand people. In January 1874 advertisements in the Melbourne papers called tenders for the erection of a new school to be built on part of this church property with the building facing Lansdown Street. It was to be the new Scotch College. This school, first opened in Spring Street in 1851, had outgrown its present quarters and a new building was urgently needed. Scotch College was conducted on this site until after World War 1 when the scholl was transferred to its present location in Glenferrie Road. This historic site was then used for the building of St Andrew's Hospital. The last of the old Chalmers Church buildings was finally removed about 10 years ago.
The importance of Robert Hoddle's original plan of reserving particular areas for public purposes is to be seen in the large Government buildings which cover a gerat deal of the remaining land between Lansdowne Street and Spring Street. The classical style of architecture seen in the Treasury building and Parliament House seem to symbolise the care and thought the early authorities gave to the buildings of "Marvelous Melbourne"