Carlton Community History Group

ABN 89 670 391 357

The Carlton Community History Group (CCHG) was established by a committed group of people interested in the history of Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill, three inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. CCHG was incorporated in 2007 and launched at the Carlton Library in 2008.

We invite you to explore this website, find out more about us, read our quarterly publication Carlton Chronicles, like us on facebook, share your recollections and participate in our zoom meetings and activities.

Inner Circle Line

The Inner Circle Line : The Melbourne suburban rail line that disappeared
By Jeff Atkinson

This book tells the story of the development of Melbourne's suburban rail lines, and in particular of the ill-conceived inner circle line that ran through the inner northern suburbs from 1888 until its final closure in the 1970s. It tells of the political events that led to the line being built, the life and death incidents that occurred along the line when it was in operation and, after it had closed, the struggle of a residents' group to have the land and station building converted into facilities for community use.

Available for $15 (plus postage if applicable) by mail order from CCHG, or from the following retail outlets:

  • Carlton Library, 667 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton
  • Railway House, 20 Solly Ave, Princes Hill
  • Royal Historical Society of Victoria Bookshop, 239 a'Beckett Street, Melbourne
  • The Rail Fan Shop, 4 Churchill St, Mont Albert
  • Train World, 290 Bay St, Brighton
Note: Retail prices may be higher than the $15 stated above.

Carlton 100 Years Ago
Picking the Wrong Pocket

Constable Bourke was off duty and out of uniform, but the savvy Carlton policeman knew something was up. A would-be pickpocket, George Bray, had chosen the wrong target and this landed him in the City Court in October 1923. The offender, who had prior criminal convictions and had exhausted his pleas of leniency, was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment. George Bray was an inveterate pickpocket and, within months of his release from prison in 1924, he was back behind bars. As his rap sheet (VPRS 515/P0/36902) shows, he was in and out of the Victorian prison system until 1941. After his release, he may have gone interstate and graduated from picking pockets to more serious crimes. A man named George Bray, of a similar age and description, turned up in Adelaide and was reported multiple times in the South Australian Police Gazette. He gained a reputation as a standover man and was charged with violent robbery in November 1942. Eight years later, in November 1950, George Bray was found murdered in the Adelaide suburb of Morphettville, thus ending his life of crime.

Melbourne, Monday.

While waiting in a crowd returning from the show, at the Bourke street tram terminus, near Spencer street, on Friday afternoon, Constable Bourke, of Carlton, who was in plain clothes and off duty, felt a hand enter his hip pocket. Turning swiftly round, the policeman saw a young man standing behind him, but with the constable's move, the hand was adroitly withdrawn. Moving unconcernedly away, Bourke decided to become a spectator, and kept the young man under observation. Watching closely, Constable Bourke saw the suspect lift up the coat of a man in front of him, and insert his hand in the man's hip pocket. Stepping up the constable quickly seized the wrist of the young man before he could withdraw. At the City Court to-day, George Bray, 23 years, was charged with being a suspected person, and with loitering with intent.

Bray pleaded not guilty to both charges, but was convicted. Detective Grieve stated that he had known Bray since he was a boy in knicker-bockers, when he had commenced picking pockets. A number of prior convictions were acknowledged by Bray, who was sentenced to nine months' imprisonment.

Ballarat Times, 2 October 1923, p. 7

In the same month of October, another police officer used his olfactory senses to "diagnose" what could have been a medical emergency, but turned out to be a case of public drunkenness. "Pinkie" is a slang term for cheap or home-made wine.


"Pore thing, look at 'er lips. It's 'emorridge, I'm sure!" Men and women gathered around the prostrate form of a female, whose head was resting against a tombstone, and whose face was softened by the proximity of bunches of pansies and violets recently placed on a grave in Melbourne Cemetery. Her eyes were closed. "I'm sure it's 'emorridge; look at the blood! Send for the police," persisted the sympathetic woman. Other sympathisers gathered round the prostrate form and uttered kindly words into apparently deaf ears. At intervals the suffering one moaned. "There's more 'emorridge comin', I'm sure," still persisted the sympathetic woman, as she gazed at the fluid flowing from the mouth of the woman, whose head still nestled among the pansies and violets. A constable came and sniffed suspiciously. "Pinkie, not 'emorridge," was his laconic verdict.

At Carlton Court Mr. Wade, P.M., fined her 10/ for being drunk and disorderly in a public place. The "pore thing" was not present in court.

The Age, 25 October 1923, p. 12

The Flock Factory

Photographer: Charles Nettleton
Digitised Image: State Library of Victoria

Carlton looking east towards Cardigan and Lygon streets in 1870
The flock factory is the large building with the domed roof, to the left of the Builder's Arms Hotel

In the early decades of Carlton, there were no mandatory planning or building regulations in place. The provisions of the "Act for regulating buildings and party walls and for preventing mischiefs by fire in the City of Melbourne", commonly called the Melbourne Building Act (1849), did not apply north of Victoria Street until the 1870s. In this largely unregulated environment, Carlton developed as a mix of houses, shops and factories, often in close proximity. One such building was a flock factory, operated by Allan Kinsley Tronson and James Hill, on the western side of Lygon Street, south of Queensberry Street. In 1864, Tronson & Hill took over James McKenzie's coffee and spice grinding factory, which had operated on the site since 1855. The land, one of six crown allotments in the block bounded by Lygon, Queensberry and Cardigan streets, was granted to Frederick Griffin in 1853. Under leasing arrangements, the lessee could build and retain ownership of structures on the site, and houses of predominantly timber construction had been built in the immediate surroundings. Flock was in demand in Victorian times, for embellishing decorative wallpapers and, at the lower end of the production scale, textile waste was processed as shoddy, for use as mattress and furniture stuffing. Tronson & Hill received an "excellence of manufacture" award for its woollen flocks and shoddy in the Inter-Colonial Exhibition of 1866-67. The word "shoddy" clearly had a different meaning in the flock industry, compared to the derogatory term in use today.1,2,3

The flock manufacturing process, while not as hazardous as some industries, involved the use of machinery for shredding and processing textile materials, and carried the added risk of airborne dust and fluff. In December 1866, there was an accident at the factory which, according to different newspaper reports, was either "slight" or "serious". Damage to the machinery was estimated at £50, but fortunately there were no injuries to the workers. A year and five months later, in May 1868, two Tronson & Hill workers – Louise and Dennis Lynch – died in tragic circumstances. Allan Tronson gave evidence at the inquest on 18 May and confirmed that three members of the family – Ann Lynch and her adult children – were employed at the factory and were paid piece work rates. He considered that they could have earned more money if they applied themselves to the job. Louise was the most efficient of the three workers and she could earn 15 shillings a week, while the combined family income was only about 20 shillings. Mr Tronson stated that he had no idea that the family was in such distress and he assumed that Louise was in receipt of an allowance. Louise was a single mother with two small children and she received no support from the father William Fowler, a theatre worker, who was away in India. She was the main breadwinner for the family and had to take the children to work with her, a practice that would not be allowed in factories these days. Her mother Ann, a widow, was often the worse for drink and her younger brother Dennis was not much help. Dennis came to work one day, at the behest of his mother, but he was sent home because he was obviously ill. He never returned and he was dead within the week. The police and a doctor went to the Lynch family home on Friday 16 May and they were shocked by the squalid conditions in the two-roomed house, off Madeline Street. Louise and Dennis were near death, and their mother Ann was in a drunken state. The brother and sister were taken to hospital, while arrangements were made for the care of Louise's children and Ann was taken to the watchhouse to sober up. Louise died in the early hours of Saturday morning and her brother Dennis lingered on for another day. The cause of death, originally thought to be from starvation, was found to be typhoid fever, a bacterial disease commonly associated with conditions of poor hygiene and sanitation.4,5,6,7,8

1869 was a momentous year, in which the flock factory was destroyed by fire and two people close to Allan Tronson died. Around midnight on 6 August, a fire broke out and, fuelled by combustible materials stored on the premises, quickly engulfed the building. The glow from the fire lit up the night sky and attracted a large number of spectators. The fire soon spread to the nearby timber houses in Clare Place (off Lygon Street) and Hotham Place (off Cardigan Street and backing onto the factory). Built with inadequate fire protection, one house after another succumbed to the flames. Most of the occupants were asleep at the time but, by some miracle, they were able to escape and there were no casualties. As the new day dawned, the full extent of the devastation emerged. The flock factory was a smouldering ruin and sixteen working class families were homeless. The rental properties in Clare and Hotham places were insured, but there was no insurance cover for the tenants' furniture and personal property, most of which was lost or damaged in the fire. The Carlton Fire Relief Committee was promptly established to collect and distribute public donations to compensate the tenants for their losses. The situation was different with the flock factory. The business was valued at £3,000, but insured for less than half the value. In the immediate aftermath of the fire, The Herald published a statement that on 25 July Richard Fraser Tronson, Allan Tronson's half brother, "… went down on his knees and prayed fervently that his brother's place might he burned down and that his business might be ruined". Richard categorically denied the claim, but a whiff of conspiracy lingered on. Just one week after the fire, the business partnership between Allan Kinsley Tronson and James Hill was dissolved by mutual consent. The agreement, dated 12 August 1869, was published the following day in newspapers, together with a notice advising settlement of outstanding accounts. The timing seems extraordinary, however the business decision may have been made before the fire and the public notice of dissolution was simply a formality. There was a possibility that Mr Hill left the business for health reasons. James Hill signed his last will and testament on 7 September 1869, the same day he died at his home in Berkeley Street, Carlton, aged 32 years. In his deathbed will, he named William Gill (merchant) and Allan Tronson (flock manufacturer) as executors, trustees, and guardians of his young son Walter Hill.9,10,11,12,13,14,15

Meanwhile local residents, who had witnessed the devastation of the fire, were not happy. They petitioned against the re-establishment of the flock factory, on account of the dust and effluvia emanating from it, and the injurious affect on their health. Councillor McPherson gave notice of motion to the effect that the Governor-in-Council should allow a by-law to be passed, extending the present Melbourne Building Act to Carlton. This was not actioned until a few years later and, in the interim, unregulated building construction continued. The cottages of Hotham Place were rebuilt in brick and the street was renamed Ievers Place. Allan Tronson had a new business partner, Joseph Rutherford, and under their direction, the flock factory rose like a phoenix from the ashes. Tenders were advertised in September and October 1869 for building and repair of equipment and, by the time Charles Nettleton took the photo in 1870, the new factory dominated Lygon Street. As the year drew to a close, Allan Tronson's half brother Richard – the man who had allegedly prayed for his business to burn down – died in November 1869. Richard, who was drunk at the time, was hit by a horse-drawn cab and taken to hospital. His right leg was so badly broken that amputation was the only viable treatment option and, with the limited infection control procedures in place at the time, gangrene soon set in. Richard Tronson died a few days later and the cause of death was a compound fracture of the leg, gangrene and delirium tremens. Once again, Allan Tronson was called to give evidence at the inquest, which was held at the hospital on 9 November. He stated that Richard Fraser Tronson, aged about 46 years, was his half brother. Richard had served in the army in India and had arrived in Australia about four years ago, where he had led a disreputable life. Twice, in May and June of 1868, he was brought before the court on charges of drunkenness. He was a grocer and spirit merchant by trade, but he was better known on the streets of Melbourne as a vendor of songs.16,17,18,19,20,21

With production capacity restored after the fire, the factory in Lygon Street continued to operate for the next thirty years. In November 1882, fire broke out in a flock chute at the factory but, unlike the fire of 1869, it was quickly brought under control by the workers. However the damage, estimated at £150, was not covered by insurance. Allan Kinsley Tronson, the original partner of the flock business, died at his home in Drummond Street, Carlton, on 18 Nov 1884. He was 50 years old. Probate was granted to John Davies and William Simpson, as executors of his estate, and in March 1885 Tronson's share of the business was sold to Joseph Rutherford. Frederick Griffin, the original land owner, died in England in 1885 and probate was granted to G. Fitzmaurice. Griffin's extensive real estate inventory included a four-roomed cottage on the factory site, the property of the deceased, and all other "removable" buildings were the property of the lessees. In May 1890 there was another fatality involving a worker employed at the factory. Alfred Cecil Loder, an engine-driver, was using a grindstone when his left hand was caught and crushed in the machinery. The hand had to be amputated but, unlike the case of Richard Tronson's broken leg, the stump was healing well. However, Loder contracted pneumonia and died in hospital. He had no known relatives in Victoria and left behind his fiancée, Elizabeth English. William Rutherford, foreman, gave evidence at the inquest in June 1890. He stated that the accident could have been prevented if Loder had used a clamp, instead of his hand, to hold the machinery in place. Loder had a history of drunkenness, though not in recent years. The coroner ruled that the cause of Loder's death was acute pneumonia and not as a result of the hand injury. Rutherford's safety record was in the clear.22,23,24,25,26,27

Two years later, in 1892, there was a spate of burglaries in Melbourne and the flock factory was one of its intended victims. On Friday 30 September, at the close of business, Joseph Rutherford locked up the factory and office, as per usual. When he arrived the following morning, he found that the side door to the building had been forced and the office was in a state of disarray. Items had been removed from around the iron safe, possibly with the intention of taking it away or blowing it open. However, it seems that Mr Rutherford had outsmarted the would-be burglars. After a previous burglary, he placed a notice on the safe stating: "This safe is empty and contains books only". The burglars, who were obviously literate, took him at his word and abandoned their nefarious quest. Joseph Rutherford died at his home in Elgin Street, Carlton, on 15 October 1899. He was 77 years old and had outlived his fellow flock manufacturers Allan Tronson and James Hill. The death of Rutherford also marked the end of the flock factory, after 35 years of operation. Rutherford's probate documents included a detailed inventory of plant, equipment and materials, including bales of shoddy in various grades and colours. The estate was valued at £7,228 6 shillings and 10 pence and his housekeeper, Eliza Jones, received the generous amount of £500 "for her faithful services". The residue of the estate was divided equally between the Bendigo Hospital, Melbourne Hospital, Austin Hospital for Incurables, Women's Hospital and Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children (both in Carlton).28,29,30,31

When the last trace of flock and shoddy had been cleared out, the factory at 53-55 Lygon Street was taken over by the Melbourne Glass Bevelling & Silvering Company. The factory site was acquired by the Government of Victoria in 1977 and, together with the surrounding properties acquired in 1980, was redeveloped as R.M.I.T.'s Carlton campus. Ievers Place (née Hotham Place) was acquired by Davies, Coop & Company Pty Ltd in 1934 and the "ramshackle old cottages" were demolished to make way for a new cotton finishing mill. Building regulations had changed since the early days and, to assist in slum clearance, the Melbourne City Council allowed the company to build across the dead-end laneway, thus shortening the already-short street. Apart from the street sign, all that remains of Ievers Place is the laneway entrance, immediately north of Mary's Terrace at 50-56 Cardigan Street.32,33

1 Act for regulating buildings and party walls and for preventing mischiefs by fire in the City of Melbourne, No. XXXIX, 12 October 1949
2 Land ownership and occupancy information has been sourced from land title records, Melbourne City Council rate books and Sands & McDougall directories.
3 The Argus, 14 February 1867, p. 1 supplement
4 The Argus, 18 December 1866, p. 4
5 The Age, 18 December 1866, p. 5
6 Louise Lynch: Inquest (VPRS 24/P0000, 1868/152 Female)
7 Dennis Lynch: Inquest (VPRS 24/P0000, 1868/438 Male)
8 Typhoid fever, also known as "colonial fever", is a bacterial disease caused by Salmonella typhi. The disease can now be treated with antibiotics and cases are rare in Australia and other developed countries. In May 1868, the month in which Louise and Dennis Lynch died, the Registrar-General on the vital statistics of Melbourne and suburbs noted a large increase in the number of deaths from scarlatina (scarlet fever), diptheria, croup, typhoid fever, and phthisis (tuberculosis), as compared with the previous month. (The Argus, 1 July 1868, p. 5)
9 The fire was first reported in newspapers on 6 August 1869.
10 The Argus, 7 August 1869, p. 5
11 The Herald, 6 August 1869, p. 3
12 The Herald, 16 August 1869, p. 2
13 The Argus, 13 August 1869, p. 3
14 James Hill: Grant of probate : Date of grant : 11 Nov 1869 : Date of death : 7 Sep 1869 (VPRS 28/P0001, 7/775)
15 James Hill: Will : To whom committed : A. K. Tronson (VPRS 7591/P0001, 7/775)
16 The Argus, 23 August 1869, p. 4
17 The Age, 23 August 1869, p. 2
18 The Argus, 4 September 1869, p. 6
19 The Argus, 9 October 1869, p. 3
21 Richard Fraser Howson [sic]: Inquest : Cause of death : Accidentally knocked down by a cab (VPRS 24/P0000, 1869/917 Male) Note: Richard Fraser Tronson's inquest report is incorrectly recorded under the surname "Howson".
22 The Age, 18 November 1882, p. 5
23 Allan K. Tronson: Grant of probate To whom committed : J. A. Davies and W. T. Simpson : Date of grant: 18 Dec 1884 : Date of death: 18 Nov 1884 (VPRS 28/P0001, 28/827)
24 Allan Kinsley Tronson lived at 2 Louisa Terrace, Drummond Street, on the corner of Queensberry Street.
25 The Argus, 2 March 1885, p. 7
26 Frederick Griffin: Grant of administration : To whom committed : G. Fitzmaurice : Date of grant: 6 May 1886 : Date of death: 8 Jul 1885 (VPRS 28/P0002, 32/846)
27 Alfred Cecil Loder (Loader): Inquest : Cause of death : Pneumonia : Date of hearing: 10 Jun 1890 (VPRS 24/P0000, 1890/818)
28 The Herald, 1 October 1892, p. 1
29 Joseph Rutherford: Grant of probate : Date of grant: 15 Dec 1899 : Date of death: 15 Oct 1899 (VPRS 28/P0002, 73/429)
30 Joseph Rutherford: Will : Grant of probate : Date of grant: 15 Dec 1899 : Date of death: 15 Oct 1899 (VPRS 7591/P0002, 73/429)
31 Joseph Rutherford lived at Albury Terrace, 233 Elgin Street.
32 The Herald, 15 November 1934, p. 16
33 There are two small streets with the name "Ievers", most likely named after William Ievers, a well known house, land and insurance agent. Ievers Place is on the east side of Cardigan Street, between Queensberry and Earl streets. Ievers Terrace is on the west side of Cardigan Street, opposite Argyle Square.

The Ferguson Brothers of Carlton

Source: Jewish Herald, 11 December 1908, p. 6
Newspaper advertisement for Ferguson Brothers
"Doris Street" is a typo for "Dorrit Street", where the bakehouse was located

Have you ever tasted baked goods from Ferguson Plarre bakeries? If yes, you have enjoyed the legacy of a long line of bakers who had their origins in Carlton over a century ago. This is the story of a widow, Eliza Ferguson, and her two sons, John Albert (Percy) and James Wright, who followed in their mother's footsteps to establish successful businesses in baking and catering.

Eliza Lane Crawford was born in Brandeston, Suffolk, England in 1857 and she migrated to Australia as a child in 1862. In 1878, at the age of 21, she married John Ferguson and the couple settled at Wurruk in Gippsland. Their first son John Albert, known as "Percy", was born at Sale in 1880. Tragedy struck the family in 1881. John senior, a carpenter, was working on the roof of a railway engine shed when he fell from a height of 20 feet and sustained serious concussion and internal injuries. He never regained consciousness and died the following day at Gippsland Hospital in Sale on 19 March 1881, leaving Eliza a widow with a young baby and another on the way (or "enceinté", to use Eliza's own word). Their second son, James Wright, was born in August that year. John did not leave a will and letters of administration were granted to Eliza in lieu of probate. His estate, valued at £129 2s 6d, comprised mainly three acres of land at Wurruk and a weatherboard skillion house. Eliza received a government compensation payment of £50, wages due, a collection from her husband's fellow employees, payment by the IOR Lodge – of which her husband was a member – and donations from her family and friends. Four years after her husband's death Eliza was involved in a bitter dispute with James Wright, her uncle by marriage, who had taken charge of her finances. The civil case was heard in the Sale County Court on 20 March 1885 and Eliza claimed £92 5s for money lent and rent collected on her behalf. James Wright disputed her claim and made slanderous allegations against her character. The court decided in Eliza's favour and awarded her the full amount, plus £11 14s costs. Eliza had the sympathy and support of the local community, one of whom – a Mr Baker – organised a social evening to wish her well for the future. 1,2,3,4

How Eliza managed to support herself and bring up her two young sons is not clear but, like many other widows of her time, she may have gone into domestic service. In 1899, she took over an existing pastrycook and confectionary business, previously owned by William Glenn, at 231 Lygon Street, Carlton. Her sons, John and James, who were nearing adult age, joined her in the business. The two storey shop and residence was initially a rental property owned by Thomas Pigdon and was subsequently acquired by John and James Ferguson in 1907. Eliza expanded her business by opening luncheon rooms at 54-56 Swanston Street, near St Paul's cathedral in the city. This building was the office of real estate agents and auctioneers Carney & Kelly and the luncheon rooms were most likely on the floor above. In 1900 and 1901, Eliza advertised her premises as a good vantage point for viewing street processions. She also operated the Railway Café at 270 Flinders Street, and baked goods from Carlton no doubt featured on the menu. 5,6,7,8

In April 1901 Eliza was fined 10 shillings in Carlton Court for failing to register her factory. When the Inspector of Factories and Shops visited the premises the shop manager, possibly one of the Ferguson brothers, thought that the fee of two shillings and sixpence had already been paid, but he was unable to produce the receipt. Eliza herself did not appear in court but sent a letter stating that the non-registration was due to an oversight. In the early days at Carlton, Eliza and her sons lived on the shop premises. The electoral rolls for 1903 and 1905 list John and James as bakers and, surprisingly, Eliza as "carrier". The most logical explanation is a misprint for "caterer". Two other residents, Catherine and Minnie Ferguson (both saleswomen) were listed at the same address. In 1905 Eliza married coachbuilder Henry Freeman and she moved to the Freeman family complex in Drummond Street, on the same site developed in the 1980s as Lygon Court. Her occupation was relegated to "home duties" in the electoral roll for 1906, though it is unlikely that she would have completely relinquished her involvement in the bakery and catering business. 9,10,11,12

By 1907 John and James Ferguson, now trading as Ferguson Brothers, had bought the Lygon Street shop and were registered as tenants in common. They opened a second shop at 769 Nicholson Street, North Carlton. This was a rental property and, like their mother before them, they took over an existing business run by pastrycook Mrs Edith Smith. John and James Ferguson added to their real estate holdings and production capacity in 1909, with the addition of a bakehouse in Dorrit Street and a timber building on the corner of Lygon and Waterloo streets. In December 1910, James Ferguson lodged a notice of intent to build a house in Cardigan Street, Carlton, not far from the Ferguson Brothers' bakehouse and shop. This house, "Teanville" at 212 Cardigan Street, became the new home for James and his bride Christina Coleman, who he married at St Jude's church in February 1911. They had a daughter, Marjorie Jean, who sadly died within three days of birth in May 1912. Their second daughter, Gladys Marjorie, was born in Carlton in 1914. 13,14,15,16,17

The year 1913 saw major changes for the Ferguson Brothers. The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in April 1913 and James Wright Ferguson continued the business as Ferguson Brothers. The three Carlton properties jointly owned by the brothers were transferred to James. Christina Ferguson owned land at the far northern end of Nicholson Street, North Carlton, and in February 1913 James lodged a notice of intent to build three shops on the site. These were numbered 807 to 811 Nicholson Street and the middle shop (no. 809) became the new retail outlet for Ferguson Brothers in North Carlton. The shop's immediate neighbours were Mrs May Brown, a milliner, and Mr C.E. Taylor, a dentist specialising in vulcanite dentures. There was another pastrycook business a few doors down at no. 797 and the rental premises at no. 769 was taken over by piemaker Herbert Adams. Consumer demand must have been high to sustain three similar businesses in close proximity. Ferguson Brothers advertised regularly in the Jewish Herald and the company was granted accreditation to supply kosher products, under the supervision of an authorised shomer. 18,19,20,21,22,23,24

John Albert Ferguson was also making changes in his personal life. He married Artemisa Fortunata Maria Panelli at St Peters Eastern Hill in February 1913. Artemisa was the daughter of Italian migrants Benedetto and Teresa Panelli, and her father had a wine shop in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy. The Ferguson's first son, also named John Albert, was born in December of that year and two more sons, Alan and Robert, followed. The family lived initially at 519 Sydney Road, Brunswick, where John established his own bakery and catering business "J.A. Ferguson". The business flourished and decades later became "Ferguson Plarre", under the stewardship of the descendants of John Albert Ferguson and German immigrant Otto Plarre. John Albert Ferguson died at his home in Coburg in January 1952. His widow Artemisa died thirty years later in February 1988, at the ripe old age of 99 years. Both husband and wife were buried together at Fawkner Memorial Park. 25,26,27,28,29,30,31

James Wright Ferguson stayed in Carlton for the time being and became involved in the local community. He was appointed Justice of the Peace in the Central Bailiwick of Victoria in March 1915 – notwithstanding two minor traffic prosecutions in 1913 and 1915. In June 1914 James Ferguson made a bid for local government and stood against Carlton real estate agent Thomas Foley to fill a vacancy for Smith Ward of the Melbourne City Council. He was unsuccessful, but in February 1916 he was appointed as the sole nominee following the resignation of Thomas Foley. James served on the Melbourne City Council for the next 40 years, retiring in August 1956. He was chairman of the Markets Committee for 20 years and also chairman of the City Council's Royal Visit Committee in 1954. In recognition of his service, he was awarded the C.B.E. (Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in New Year's Honors list for 1957. His business continued to cater for private and public functions – large and small – and at times provided gratis catering services for local charities. Within the industry, James Ferguson was best known as the official caterer to the Victoria Racing Club and his busiest time was during the Melbourne spring racing carnival. In October 1930 the ovens were running hot at Dorrit Street, baking 1,000 turkeys, 150 ducks, 200 chickens, 2,000 apple pies and 4,000 dozen pastries, augmented with 500 trifles, 350 jellies, 250 fruit salads and 100 dishes of charlotte russo. 32,33,34,35,36,37,38,39

By the 1920s the remaining Ferguson family members had left Carlton. Eliza and her husband Henry Freeman moved to Auburn, where she died in 1943. The Freeman family remember Eliza as a feisty woman, who drove herself everywhere in a horse-drawn carriage and made her opinions on everything well known. Henry Freeman died at his home in Glen Iris in 1946. Both were buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton. James and Christina Ferguson moved to "Questa" in Parkville, and Christina died in May 1923. Probate was granted to James, who inherited the three shops in Nicholson Street, North Carlton. "Teanville" was sold in 1924, the Nicholson Street shops in 1926, and the original Lygon Street shop in 1929, while James retained his catering business at the Dorrit Street bakehouse. James married his second wife Eleanor Maude Eileen Casey in 1925 and they lived in Brighton and later at a guest house in Macedon. The marriage ended in divorce in 1941 and James retained custody of their daughters Cynthia and Yvonne, aged 13 and 12 years at the time. He married his third wife, Sydna Delisle, in 1942. James Wright Ferguson died in Sydney in July 1974, one month short of his 93rd birthday. His widow Sydna Ferguson died in Southport, Queensland, in September 1990. 40,41,42,43,44,45,46,47

The bakehouse in Dorrit Street remained in James Ferguson's ownership until the 1960s and was home to Nann's Pies from the late 1930s. The entire west side of Dorrit Street, together with parts of Cardigan and Grattan streets, were acquired by the Royal Women's Hospital from the 1950s through to the 1970s. Both the bakehouse and James Ferguson's former home in Cardigan Street were demolished to make way for the Royal Women's Hospital carpark and staff accommodation. The shop at 809 Nicholson Street has maintained a continuous connection with the aspects of baking trade, starting as a pastrycook business for Ferguson Brothers, and later as a cake shop. In the 1980s, the three shops in Nicholson Street were combined as Natural Tucker Bakery, which is still baking to this day. Eliza Ferguson's original pastrycook business at 231 Lygon Street is now a nail salon.

Notes and References:
1 Biographical information has been sourced from birth, death and marriage records, and newspaper family notices.
2 Inquest deposition file (VPRS 24/P0, 1881/235)
3 Grant of administration (VPRS 28/P0, 21/893)
4 Gippsland Times, 3 April 1885, p. 3
5 Building ownership and occupancy information has been sourced from Sands & McDougall directories, cross checked with Melbourne City Council rate books.
6 Certificates of title vol. 2602, fol. 322 and vol. 3213, fol. 555
7 The Age, 3 December 1900, p. 10
8 The Age, 23 March 1901, p. 12
9 The Herald, 26 April 1901, p. 5
10 Electoral rolls for 1903, 1905 and 1906
11 Marriage Reg. No. 5462/1905
12 Eliza and Henry Freeman lived at 335 Drummond Street, Carlton.
13 Certificates of title vol. 3329, fol. 665 and vol. 3343, fol.596
14 Australian Architectural Index, Reg. No. 2340
15 The Age, 29 April 1911, p. 7
16 The Age, 13 May 1912, p. 1
17 Death Reg. No. 29166/1914
18 The Argus, 26 April 1913, p. 12
19 Certificates of title vol. 3686, fols. 078 to 080
20 Certificate of title vol. 3620, fol. 978
21 Australian Architectural Index, Reg. No. 3897
22 Vulcanite dentures were developed in the 19th century as a more durable and elastic alternative to traditional dentures. The base was made from vulcanised rubber.
23 Jewish Herald, 21 September 1917, p. 14
24 A shomer is a guard or watchman. In the context of food preparation, the shomer ensures that all the ingredients and methods of cooking are in accordance with Jewish Law.
25 Marriage Reg. No. 388/1913
26 The Age, 20 December 1913, p. 5
27 Birth Reg. No. 1233/1919
28 For more information on John Albert (Percy) Ferguson, visit the Ferguson Plarre website
29 The Age, 21 January 1952, p. 2
30 Death Reg. No. 3278/1988. The death was registered under the given names "Maria Fortunata".
31 Fawkner Memorial Park cemetery records
32 Victoria Police Gazette, 25 March 1915, p. 314
33 The Herald, 11 April 1913, p. 1
34 The Age, 13 January 1915, p. 13
35 The Herald, 8 June 1914, p. 12
36 The Age, 2 February 1916, p. 15
37 The Argus, 1 January 1957, p. 1
38 The Advocate, 27 February 1915, p. 27
39 The Herald, 30 October 1930, p. 8
40 The Age, 20 July 1943, p. 5
41 The Age, 12 July 1946, p. 2
42 Death Reg. No. 4909/1923
43 191/139 Christina E. Ferguson: Grant of probate (VPRS 28/P3, 191/139 1923-09-08)
44 Certificates of title vol. 4778, fol. 474, vol. 3628 and vol. 3620 fol. 978.
45 1941/884 Ferguson v Ferguson: Divorce (VPRS 283/P2, 1941/884)
46 Marriage Reg. No. 17164/1942
47 Ryerson Index and NSW Death Reg. No. 9231/1974

Born on Christmas Day
Noel Tovey

"Every December Mumma would take me to the Salvation Army Citadel in Drummond Street. I would have my clothes changed and was given a toy for Christmas and photographed. Mumma would be given a bundle of clothing and food. After Christmas, a hand-coloured picture of me with yellow hair mounted on a card with a prayer would arrive in the post. But there was never any Christmas for us." 1

You may consider that a child born on Christmas Day would be doubly blessed, but for Noel Tovey there was no joy in Christmas. Noel Christopher Tovey was born at the Women's Hospital on 25 December 1934 and he spent his early years living in the slums of Carlton. He was the third of five mixed race children born to Winifred Ann Tovey and Frederick James Morton. His parents were not married at the time and the birth was registered under his mother's surname. However, Winifred and the children were generally known by the surname "Morton". The family lived initially at 21 Little Palmerston Street, then moved to a small two-storey house at 122 Barkly Street, Carlton. This house was the scene of Noel's early memories, which he describes in his memoir Little black bastard as: "Drunks, hunger, violence, filth, the stench of stale urine and vomit and the occasional day at St George's school was the norm and I had no reason to believe that other people lived differently." 2,3,4

Noel's father Frederick Morton, described as a "dark complexioned" vaudeville artist, was well known to police. He was a "snow" (cocaine) user and had a string of prosecutions dating back to the 1920s. Morton appeared in court to answer charges of vagrancy, drug trafficking, assaulting a tram conductor and having encouraged children to beg alms. The latter case, which took place in North Carlton in 1931, involved a group of unemployed street musicians playing in public and engaging two of their children to collect money from the waiting crowd. In their defence the performers – Septimus Ford, Frederick Morton and Henry Harold Davis – claimed to be unaware that they were committing an offence. Despite his criminal record, Morton once assisted police in gaining evidence for a conviction against Zal Markov, a Carlton chemist, for supplying cocaine without the appropriate documentation. Morton's co-operation with the police may have earned him a degree of leniency in the court system, but a child neglect case of July 1941 was more serious and warranted a custodial sentence. 5,6,7,8,9,10


With shaven head and dressed in clothes provided by the Royal Park Home, little Marion Morton, 8, and her brother Noel, 6, were present in Carlton Court today under the guardianship of a sister from the Home to hear charges against their father, Frederick Morton, of Barkly Street, Carlton, street singer. Morton was charged with having failed to provide them with adequate food, clothing and lodgings on July 2. He was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

Policewoman Catherine McKay said that she went to St. George's Primary School, Carlton, in answer to a complaint from the Mother Superior that day. She found the two children in a shelter shed, segregated from the other children. Their heads were in a verminous condition, their clothing filthy, and their shoes almost worn out. She visited the house in Barkly Street. There were vermin in the children's bed clothing and empty wine bottles under one of the beds. The children were taken to Royal Park Home, where it was necessary to shave their heads and burn the clothes.

Constable Norman H. Hume said that he had often seen men and women in a drunken condition in the house. Morton told him he did the best he could for the children, but was away working all day. Morton told the court his wife left him while he was at the Anzac Day march in April. Since then he had to look after the children. In his occupation he got a lot of free drink for singing in front of hotels, but he did not spend much on liquor. His average weekly earnings were 50/. To Detective Toner (prosecuting), he admitted that another child had been taken away from him because of neglect, but that was the fault of his wife.

The Herald, 29 July 1941, p. 4

The nuns at St George's Primary School had a duty of care in reporting cases of child neglect to police and they did so with best of intentions. However, they would not have known that their actions would result in years of physical and sexual abuse of both children at the hands of their adoptive "father". While serving his sentence in Pentridge Prison, Frederick Morton relinquished the care of his children to the Challenger family, mother and son, of Burren Junction in New South Wales. In April 1946, Arthur Neville Challenger was sentenced to two years hard labour for carnal knowledge of a girl under the age of sixteen. At the time of the trial, Marion was thirteen years old and considered by the presiding judge as "obviously willing", but this ignored the fact that she had been abused by Challenger since the age of eight. Challenger was never prosecuted for offences against Noel, who had remained silent about the abuse. It later transpired that Challenger had a criminal record for various offences and, had the appropriate background checks been done, the children should never have been placed with him.


Two offenders were sentenced to terms of imprisonment by Judge Storkey at the Quarter Sessions on Tuesday. A third defendant was discharged. Arthur Neville Challenger, 39, who since last Christmas had been living with his mother, two other people and a girl aged 13 years and ten months in an old District Hospital building, pleaded guilty to an offence against the girl on January 23. He was sentenced to two years hard labour, with the recommendation that, if possible, it be served on a prison farm. Evidence was given that the accused had been the sole support of the girl, who had been adopted by accused's mother. His Honour remarked he had obviously transgressed a trust which should have been his first consideration in life; only the fact she was not in trouble, and was obviously willing, deterred him from imposing a longer sentence.

The North Western Courier, 4 April 1946, p. 7

Frederick James Morton died in February 1943, and the children were returned to the care of their mother in Melbourne following the court case in 1946. They were back with their family but, with the ever-present problems of poverty and alcohol abuse, there was little sense of security. Young Noel became a street kid and had a few run-ins with the law, including a short stay in Pentridge Prison, where his father had also "done time". As an escape from this life, Noel discovered the world of performing arts, a positive legacy of his father's talent as a vaudeville artist. Noel's exotic dark looks – inherited from his parents' African and Aboriginal ancestries – made him a target of bullying and racial abuse as a child, but proved to be an asset on the stage. Noel took his mother's surname "Tovey" and he went on to a successful career as an actor, singer, dancer, choreographer and theatre director, both in Australia and overseas. 11

Six decades after his court appearance as a neglected child, Noel Tovey returned to tell his life's story at the Carlton Courthouse Theatre. The one-man performance, based on his memoir Little black bastard, opened in March 2003 to critical acclaim. Noel Tovey was awarded the Member of the Order of Australia in 2015 for significant service to the performing arts, to indigenous performers, and as an advocate for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and intersex community. 12

Notes and References:
1 Tovey, Noel. Little black bastard (Hodder, 2004) p. 28
2 Information on the Tovey and Morton families, and direct quotes, have been sourced from Noel Tovey's two memoirs – Little black bastard (Hodder, 2004) and And then I found me (Magabala Books, 2017).
3 Sands & McDougall directories and electoral rolls confirm that Frederick James Morton lived at 21 Little Palmerston Street and 122 Barkly Street, Carlton. Noel's birth certificate gives the incorrect address of 21 Palmerston Street, Carlton.
4 St George's Primary School was in Drummond Street, near Pelham Street.
5 The Age, 8 June 1920, p. 7
6 The Argus, 14 July 1920, p. 11
7 The Argus, 1 August 1923, p. 17
8 The Age, 21 July 1925, p. 11
9 The Argus, 1 April 1931, p. 5
10 The other child mentioned in the 1941 court case was most likely the eldest son, Frederick, who was removed from the family home in September 1940. He was sent to the Silesian College in Sunbury where he received an education. There were two younger children, Francis and Claudia, in the family. Francis was taken into care as a baby and Claudia was raised by her aunt.
11 Death Registration No. 1671/1943
12 Australia Day 2015 Honours list

Is it Curtains for the Curtin?

Image: CCHG
John Curtin Hotel, corner of Lygon and Earl streets, Carlton

Another historic Carlton hotel – the John Curtin in Lygon Street – has been sold recently and is facing an uncertain future. The hotel's licence expires in November 2022 and, depending on the intentions of the successful buyer, the popular watering hole for trade unionists, politicians, journalists and students could be serving its last drinks before the end of the year. The hotel takes its name from John Curtin, Australia's wartime Prime Minister from 1941 to 1945 and, being conveniently located opposite Trades Hall, it has a long association with the trade union movement and the Australian Labor Party. The hotel's present name is a more recent re-branding from the early 1970s. It was known as the Lygon Hotel for the greater part of its long life and was licensed to Michael O'Meara in 1859. The original early Victorian brick hotel building was replaced, or substantially remodelled, in the early 20th century, with the addition of a distinctive archway façade.

The names "John Curtin" and "John Curtain" – both Irishmen associated with politics and Carlton hotels – are sometimes confused. John Curtain was a 19th century politician, business entrepreneur and publican. He was a Melbourne City Councillor and Member of the Legislative Assembly, and licensee of two Carlton hotels – the old Leicester Hotel in Leicester Street and, most notably, Curtain's Hotel (now Shaw Davey Slum) on the corner of Elgin and Drummond streets. At one stage, John Curtain owned dozens of business and residential properties in Carlton, but he was forced to sell many in the 1880s to cover his business debts. John Curtain died in straitened financial circumstances in 1905. His name is commemorated in Curtain Street and Curtain Square in North Carlton.

John Curtin, former trade unionist and Prime Minister of Australia, died in Canberra in 1945.

Note: Hotel building and licensing information has been sourced from the Australian Architectural Index, Melbourne City Council rate books and contemporary newspaper accounts.

More Information:
John Curtin (1885-1945)
John Curtain (1835-1905)

The Salvation Army in Carlton

Image: Courtesy of Salvation Army Museum Melbourne
The Salvation Army Citadel in Drummond Street, Carlton, in the 1920s

One hundred years ago, on 18 August 1921, Commissioner James Hay opened the new Carlton Salvation Army Citadel "To the glory of God and for the salvation of the people". The distinctive brick hall was built to the same design as the Camberwell Citadel (built in 1910 and since demolished) and replaced an old double-fronted weatherboard house at 324 Drummond Street, Carlton. The Salvation Army acquired the site in December 1918, at a cost of £943, and spent an estimated £1,357 on the building. The plans were first submitted to Melbourne City Council in February 1919, but it was not until two years later in 1921 that building commenced under a new application. The location in Drummond Street was well chosen, being in the same block as the Carlton Police Station and the Carlton Court, where there were potential souls to be saved. Carlton was an economically depressed suburb in the 1920s and by the 1930s many dwellings – including whole streets – were declared unfit for human habitation. The Salvation Army played an important role in assisting the families living in poverty. Acclaimed indigenous actor, dancer and choreographer Noel Tovey was born in Carlton in 1934 and spent his early childhood years living there. In his memoir Little Black Bastard he recalls that he was taken to the Salvation Army Citadel once a year, given a new set of clothes and photographed. The studio portraits, reproduced in Tovey's memoir, depict him as a well-dressed, engaging baby and toddler – images at odds with his early life of poverty and deprivation. The Salvation Army would have helped many disadvantaged children feel special – if only for a short time.1,2,3

While the Citadel was opened in 1921, Carlton's association with the Salvation Army goes back to the 1880s, when the Army was first established in Melbourne. The salvationists made their presence felt by singing and marching in the city streets, but found themselves in breach of local regulations. In April 1883, Captain William Shepherd was fined £5, plus £5 and 5 shillings costs, for holding a procession (for other than funeral purposes) along Stephen (Exhibition) Street in the city, "without having obtained in writing the previous consent of the Mayor or Town Clerk, or having given notice to the officer in charge of the city police". Captain Shepherd was, by his own admission, a reformed prisoner who had lead a past life of sin and crime. Shepherd and his wife lived in a small cottage at 51 Lygon Street, Carlton, just a block away from the Melbourne Gaol, and he began inviting recently released prisoners to his humble home. The Salvation Army recognised the need to break the common cycle of discharged prisoners re-offending, and this lead to the formation of the Prison Gate Brigade, the first such brigade of its kind anywhere in the world. Salvation Army officers visited prisoners in the lead up to their release and waited at the "prison gate" to offer them support and accommodation to ease their transition back into civilian life. 4,5

Image: CCHG
Former Prison Gate Home at 37 Argyle Place South, Carlton

Carlton was at the forefront of the new brigade. On 8 December 1883, Major James Barker opened the Salvation Army's first prison gate home at High Ham House, 37 Argyle Place South, Carlton. The substantial two storey brick building, on the corner with Cardigan Street, was part of a terrace constructed by E. Brooke in 1873. Not all ex-prisoners stayed at the home – some were just there for meals – and not all stayed on the straight-and-narrow path to salvation, but all were accepted without judgement. The home was funded entirely by voluntary contributions of money and clothing, the latter of which was important as prisoners were often discharged with only the clothes on their backs. There was even a bootmaker and tailor in attendance to repair footwear and clothing, so that ex-prisoners would look presentable for their return to society. Around the same time, in January 1884, a home for women was opened at 11 Barkly Street, Carlton, one of a pair of cottages owned by Robert Frost. This was the first, or the forerunner, of the Salvation Army's "Fallen Sisters" or "Rescued Sisters" homes. The four roomed cottage was at least twice the size of Captain Shepherd's home in Lygon Street, and it had a bathroom, which would have been considered a luxury by many Carlton households at the time. The women's home in Barkly Street operated for a short time only, as a new home was established at Montgomery House in Gore Street, Fitzroy, in late 1884.6,7,8,9,10,11

Moving forward into the 1890s, the Salvation Army established a barracks at 62 Bouverie Street, Carlton, not far from the Carlton & West End Breweries that produced the "demon drink". The Board of Public Health approved opening of the former warehouse as a public hall in February 1891. The barracks closed four years later in February 1895. In 1915, during World War 1, the Salvation Army had a crèche built on the corner of Canning and Richardson streets, North Carlton. The crèche operated as a home for young children, rather than a day care centre, as many lived there before being placed in foster care or moved to other residential facilities. The crèche children, and also local residents, received a special treat in January 1938 when the Salvation Army distributed twenty five cases of apples from the Doncaster stores. It was quite an occasion, with Salvation Army officers beating the drum and calling on people to come out of their houses and help themselves to the free apples. Post-World War 2, the crèche was taken over by the Melbourne City Council. The original two storey crèche building was extended over the next few decades to occupy the entire corner site bounded by Canning, Richardson and Amess streets. The North Carlton Children's Centre now operates as a day care centre and kindergarten.12,13,14,15

Image: CCHG
Former Salvation Army Crèche at 481 Canning Street, North Carlton

What of the remaining Salvation Army properties in Carlton? Both Captain Shepherd's cottage in Lygon Street and the barracks in Bouverie Street have long since disappeared. The original prison gate home at 37 Argyle Place South still exists and, from external appearances, looks much the same as it would have in the 1880s. The cottage in Barkly Street, now no. 152, has had a more recent makeover, with a replacement fence and decorative iron lace on the verandah.

Special thanks to the Salvation Army Museum for sharing information and images of the Army in Carlton

Notes and References:
1 The date of opening and the quotation are on the foundation stone at the front of the building.
2 Building information has been sourced from Salvation Army property records, building plans and building application files (VPRS 11200 and 11201).
3 Little black bastard : a story of survival, Noel Tovey, Hodder Headline Australia, 2004
4 The Herald, 10 April 1883, p. 2
5 The Herald, 6 April 1883, p. 3
6 The date of opening is on a commemorative plaque, on the Cardigan Street side of the building.
7 Australian Architectural Index, Record no. 77852
8 Bendigo Advertiser, 18 January 1884, p. 3
9 The cottage at 11 Barkly Street is described in the Melbourne City Council rate books, and "Mrs Russell" is listed as the main householder. Her association with the Salvation Army is yet to be established.
10 Cox, Lindsay. Beyond prison bars, Hallelujah, vol. 3, issue 1, March 2010, p. 27
11 The Herald, 14 October 1884, p. 4
12 The Argus, 4 February 1891, p. 11
13 Salvation Army property records
14 Australian Architectural Index, Record no. 80559
15 The Age, 25 January 1938, p. 17

An Echo From the Past

Digitised Image: CCHG

This postcard-sized advertisement for Echo Publishing Company Limited of North Fitzroy was discovered amongst some notebooks, meticulously handwritten by William Wilson of Drummond Street, Carlton. Mr Wilson was a student at the Education Department Training College in Grattan Street, Carlton, in the early 1900s. The advertisement served a dual purpose in promoting a book by American author Ellen G. White, and the verso could also be used as a blotter – a smart way of advertising in the days of pen and ink. Ellen G. White was one of the founders of the Seventh Day Adventist movement and her book was first published by the Pacific Press Publishing Association in 1903. This places the date of the advertisement between 1903 and October 1905, when the business name of the Echo Publishing Company Limited was changed to the Signs of the Times Publishing Association Limited. 1,2

The Echo Publishing Company Limited began as a small-scale religious publisher and printer on the corner of Rae and Scotchmer Streets, North Fitzroy, in 1886. The business expanded its operations to include commercial work, and moved to larger premises at 14-16 Best Street, North Fitzroy in 1889. The Company, run by the Seventh Day Adventists, reviewed its operations in the early 1900s and made the decision, based on its religious principles, to discontinue commercial work and leave the city. This was an early example of decentralisation and involved building a new state-of-the-art factory and housing for workers and their families in Warburton, then a small village east of Melbourne. The North Fitzroy factory was vacated in February 1907.3,4,5,6,7

William Wilson's notebooks and other documents were kindly donated to CCHG by the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. The advertising blotter is now in the local history collection of the Fitzroy Library.

Notes and References:
1 Ellen G. White Writings Website
2 Victoria Government Gazette, 4 October 1905, p. 3
3 Business address information has been sourced from Sands & McDougall directories and newspaper advertisements.
4 The Age, 30 April 1889, p. 3
5 The Age, 13 May 1905, p. 15
6 Reporter (Box Hill), 20 April 1906, p. 5
7 Table Talk, 10 January 1907, p. 24

Image: CCHG
"No Parking" Sign in Canning Street, North Carlton

Image: CCHG
Iron Lacework, Cnr. Canning and Macpherson Streets, North Carlton

Keep off the Grass

This sign on the median strip in Canning Street, North Carlton, states quite clearly:


But are parking officers from Melbourne City Council likely to cross the municipal boundary of Princes Street to issue an infringement notice? The sign, bearing the Melbourne City Council's name and coat of arms, is a relic of times past, when Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill were all part of the same municipality. North Carlton and Princes Hill were hived off from Melbourne City Council and joined the newly-created City of Yarra in the 1990s.

There are plenty of other reminders of Melbourne City Council to be found in North Carlton and Princes Hill. The coat of arms appears on the green street bollards and in the iron lacework of many shopfront verandahs. The images of fleece, bull, whale and sailing ship date back to 1843, when wool, tallow and oil were the chief exports of the colony (then part of New South Wales).

Next time you go for a walk along Canning Street, have a look the bollards and compare the coat of arms images with those on the "no parking" sign. The whale and sailing ship images have been relocated to the lower half, while the bull has been moved up to join the fleece on the upper half. The change was made in 1970 in order to have the land-based and water-based images placed, logically, on their respective levels. Why didn't someone think of that back in 1843?1

1 Melbourne Coat of Arms

Gas Lighting in Carlton

Image: CCHG
Corner of Amess and Richardson Streets, North Carlton

Note: MMBW detail plans are available online at the State Library of Victoria's website.

In the days before the advent of electricity, the streets of Carlton were illuminated with gas lighting. There were gas lamps on many street corners and several examples still remain, as truncated lamp post bases. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) detail plans, drawn up in the late 19th and early 20th century, include codes showing the location of gas lamps (G.L.) and electric light posts (E.L.P.). The two methods of illumination co-existed for a time, but electric lighting eventually took over and the gas lamps were decommissioned. The upper portions of the lamp posts were removed, leaving the decorative bases.

There are gas lamp bases at the following locations:

  • Corner of Amess and Pigdon Streets, North Carlton ;
  • Corner of Amess and Richardson Streets, North Carlton ;
  • Corner of Canning and Fenwick Streets, North Carlton ;
  • Corner of Canning and O'Grady Streets, North Carlton ;
  • Corner of Lygon and Richardson Streets, North Carlton ;
  • Corner of Nicholson and Pigdon Streets, North Carlton (Removed in October 2019) ;
  • Corner of Lygon Street and Argyle Place, Carlton ;
  • Corner of Rathdowne and Barkly Streets, Carlton ;
  • Corner of Swanston and Pelham Streets, Carlton.

Image: CCHG
Corner of Nicholson and Pigdon Streets, North Carlton
The lamp post was made by "D. Niven and Co., Iron Founders, Collingwood".
The base was removed from the street corner in October 2019.

Little but Fierce

Photo: CCHG
Shakespeare Street Mural
North Carlton

Have you see the new mural facing the mini park in Shakespeare Street, North Carlton? The text "Little but Fierce" is taken from William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream and was suggested by a local resident. The full wording is: "And though she be but little, she is fierce". That Shakespeare Street is "little" there is no doubt. The street is narrow and runs for one block only, between Drummond and Lygon Streets. For the "fierce" side of Shakespeare Street, we need to look back in history.

Shakespeare Street was the scene of at least two shooting incidents, one fatal, in 1922 and 1944. The street was identified as a "slum pocket" by the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board in 1936-37. The people of Shakespeare Street had a battle on their hands in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Housing Commission of Victoria condemned five cottages on the south side (nos. 7 to 15 inclusive) as unfit for human habitation. The cottages were demolished in January 1970, leaving a vacant space ready for development. Without doubt, the fiercest battle fought in Shakespeare Street was in the 1970s, against the inappropriate building of a block of cluster flats on the south side of the street. Residents and other concerned citizens took action, at their own expense, by cleaning up the vacant site and creating a mini park for the benefit and enjoyment of the community. They bravely put their money where their mouth was, so to speak, and entered into an agreement with the City of Melbourne to buy the land. Decades later, the mini park and its new mural remain a tribute to the power of community action.

More information on Shakespeare Street
Related items:
Shooting in Shakespeare Street
The Penny Dreadful

The Munster Arms

Princes Street is the dividing line between Carlton and North Carlton, and a major thoroughfare for east-west traffic. When the lights turn red at the Canning Street intersection, few travellers could fail to notice the distinctive Edwardian building on the south west corner. The Dan O'Connell Hotel was a Carlton institution and perhaps best known for its St Patrick's Day celebrations. The former hotel building is over 100 years old and was designed by Smith & Ogg and built by C.F. Pittard in 1912. It was named after Irish political leader Daniel O'Connell (1775-1847), but the Irish connection goes back even further, to a earlier hotel on the same site.1

The Munster Arms Hotel, named after the province of Munster in the south of Ireland, was first licensed to Margaret McCrohan in 1875. Her application of 8 June was initially opposed, and the close proximity of two other hotels - the Pioneer hotel and United States Hotel - may have been a contributory factor. The application was postponed for 14 days and the licence was granted on 22 June 1875. The original building was described as a small brick hotel, with nine rooms, a bar and a cellar. Mrs McCrohan and her husband Eugene ran the hotel until 1881, when the licence was transferred to George Henry (Harry) Wallace.2,3,4

Wallace held the licence for about a year only, and ran into trouble when removing an unruly patron from his hotel in October 1881. He took legal action against Daniel Dorian (Dorien) for assault, but this case was dismissed by the City Bench. A few months later on 27 February 1882, Dorian, a bricklayer, sought the sum of £300, as damages for an assault and battery, and malicious prosecution. The civil case was heard in the Supreme Court before a judge and jury. The presentation of evidence from both parties took the greater part of the day and the judge commented that the case could have been dealt with in a lower court. After a short deliberation by the jury, Dorian, the plaintiff, was awarded £5, considerably less then the desired amount.5

By the end of the month, George Henry Wallace had transferred his licence to Annie McCanny. Mrs McCanny, former licensee of the Kensington Hotel, did not have the capital to finance her new hotel business and she entered into an arrangement, to the value of £396, with the Melbourne Brewing and Malting Company Limited. Such financial arrangements were common in the nineteenth century and enabled persons of limited financial means to go into business. The brewing company acted as a de facto bank and the hotel was "tied" to the company and required to sell its beer. The bill of sale between Annie McCanny and the Melbourne Brewing and Malting Company Limited, dated 30 March 1882, includes a detailed room-by-room inventory of the hotel contents, and this gives a fascinating snapshot of the hotel in the 1880s.6

On 24 September 1882, Annie McCanny, her niece Mary Ann Cunningham and her friend Elizabeth Vernor had a frightening experience, when four drunken men forced their way into the hotel after closing time. The men went on a rampage, chasing young Mary Ann, throwing a decanter at Elizabeth, breaking a window, smashing glasses and damaging fittings. When Thomas Henderson (alias Pangburn), James Gawthorn, Thomas Whelan and John Robinson appeared in the City Court to answer the charges, they pleaded drunkenness as an excuse, and offered to make good the damage. The magistrate, Mr Panton, took a hard line and denied drunkenness as an excuse for ruffian behaviour, and he fined the men accordingly.7

Annie McCanny died intestate on 17 June 1883, aged 33 years, and she left two young sons, James and Henry. Their father, Thomas McCanny, could not be located and there was an outstanding protection order against him for domestic violence. (Ironically, the protection order enabled Annie to obtain the hotel licence because, at the time, there were restrictions on granting licences to married women.) The Melbourne Brewing and Malting Company Limited took possession of the hotel, as was their right, and the "two intelligent looking" boys appeared in the City Court charged with being neglected children. The magistrate, Mr Panton, was sympathetic to their plight, but Annie's estate, valued at £405, 8 shillings and 6 pence, was tied to the Melbourne Brewing and Malting Company Limited and there was no financial provision for her children. The boys were sent to St Augustine's orphanage in Geelong, and the Victoria Police Gazette later reported that the younger brother, Henry, had absconded in 1891.8,9,10

It could be said that the Munster Arms Hotel died with Annie McCanny. Once the administrative arrangements of Annie's estate were sorted out, the hotel was taken over in August 1883 by Mary Buggy, who paid £100 for the licence. It was during her time as licensee that the Munster Arms became the Dan O'Connell, with the new name first appearing in the Licensing Register in December 1883. The Dan O'Connell ceased trading in March 2020, a business casuality of the COVID-19 pandemic. The building was acquired by the Fitzroy Community School for use as its Carlton campus, planned for opening in 2023. The Dan O'Connell was the last surviving licensed hotel south of Princes Street, between Nicholson Street and Rathdowne Street. This area of Carlton was once populated with a number of hotels, all of which have been delicensed, though some former hotel buildings still remain. The Dan O'Connell's immediate neighbours, the Pioneer Hotel and the United States Hotel, were delicensed in 1907 and 1925 respectively.11,12

Notes and References:
1 Building information has been sourced from the Australian Architectural Index and Melbourne City Council Rate Books
2 Hotel licensing information has been sourced from the Licensing Register (VPRS 7601) and Index to Defunct Hotel Licences (VPRS 8159)
3 The United States Hotel was on the corner of Canning and Neill Streets, Carlton. It is now the Princes Hill Gallery.
4 The Pioneer Hotel was on the corner of Station and Neill Streets, Carlton. The building no longer exists.
5 The Argus, 2 March 1882, p. 5
6 Conditional Bill of Sale 60205, Mrs McCanny to the Melbourne Brewing and Malting Company Limited, 30th March 1882 (VPRS 8350)
7 The Argus, 30 September 1882, p. 12
8 Probate File of Annie McCanny, 25-885 (VPRS 28)
9 The Argus, 7 August 1883, p. 10
10 Victoria Police Gazette, 23 September 1891, p. 270
11 The Argus, 15 August 1883, p. 11.

For more stories of Carlton pubs, read our August 2017 newsletter.

A Girl in Trouble

In her recent book For a girl : a true story of secrets, motherhood and hope, writer Mary-Rose MacColl gives an account of the time she spent at a home for unmarried pregnant women in Carlton in the 1970s. Mary-Rose became pregnant at 18 and she travelled interstate, from her home city of Brisbane, to have her baby and give it up for adoption. While community attitudes towards single mothers were changing at the time, there was still a social stigma attached to being "a girl in trouble". In the case of Mary-Rose, she had left home and lied about the married man who had made her pregnant, in order to protect his identity and reputation. She kept her secret for years and it was only after the birth of her second child, a son, that the long-suppressed memories surfaced and she was able to embark on her painful journey of reconciliation and recovery.1

Mary-Rose's home during her pregnancy was the St Joseph's Receiving Home at 101 Grattan Street, conveniently near the Royal Women's Hospital, and run by the Sisters of St Joseph. The Receiving Home was first established in Barkly Street, Carlton, in 1902 by Margaret Goldspink, a well known charity and welfare worker. Within a few years, the home moved to the larger premises in Grattan Street, an opulent two-storey house designed by W.S. Law and built for Louisa Langley in 1890. Mrs Langley, who also owned the adjacent aerated waters factory, was declared insolvent in 1905, forcing the sale of the house and factory site to pay her creditors. The Catholic Church purchased the property, measuring 56 feet by 132 feet, for £2,000 in late 1905 and Archbishop Carr invited the Sisters of St Joseph to take over management of the Receiving Home in 1906. During World War 1 the building was extended, at a cost of £4,000 (twice the original purchase price), with a new wing and chapel that was officially opened by Coadjuter-Archbishop Daniel Mannix in February 1915. The land on the eastern side, towards Lygon Street, was later acquired and the houses of Grattan Terrace (nos. 81 to 99) were demolished in 1960 to make way for a new accommodation wing. 2,3,4,5,6,7,8

For nearly 80 years, St Joseph's Receiving Home offered shelter to thousands of pregnant women and also provided short term residential care to children considered by the courts to be neglected or "at risk". The supporting mother's benefit was introduced by the Whitlam Government in 1973, when it was acknowledged that single mothers needed support, not condemnation, to keep their babies. Rates of adoption, which was once seen as a convenient solution to a social problem, have dropped off dramatically since the 1970s, while the birth rate of ex-nuptual babies has risen steadily during the same period. These babies are now more likely to be born and raised in the community than in institutions. The Receiving Home closed in 1985, when it was merged with St Joseph's Babies Home to form the new St Joseph's Babies' & Family Service in Glenroy. The 1960s accommodation wing was demolished in the 1990s and redeveloped as a retail and residential complex. The Royal Women's Hospital, where many of the Receiving Home residents had their babies, relocated to new premises in Flemington Road, Parkville, in 2008. 9,10,11,12

Architect's drawing of St Joseph's Receiving Home
Image Source: The Advocate, 27 February 1915, p. 27
Architect A.A. Fritsch's drawing of St Joseph's Receiving Home extension, officially opened in February 1915.
The original 1890 building facade was replicated in the new wing, and a chapel was added on the western boundary.
The houses of the former Receiving Home are now numbered 103 and 105 Grattan Street, Carlton.

1 The Age Good Weekend, 22 April 2017, p. 22-24
2 Mackillop Family Services
3 Land ownership and occupancy information sourced from land title records and Melbourne City Council rate books
4 Australian Architectural Index
5 The Age, 13 May 1905, p. 12
6 The Advocate, 6 January 1906, p. 16
7 The Advocate, 27 February 1915, p. 27
8 Register of Demolitions, 1945-1975 (VPRS 17292)
9 Find & Connect : History & information about Australian orphanages, children's homes & other institutions
10 Births Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3301.0)
11 Australian Social Trends (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4102.0)
12 Building Application Index (VPRS 11202)

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