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.
Membership fees for 2023 are now due
Help finance the preservation of Carlton's history by becoming a financial member of the Carlton Community History Group.
The membership fee is $20 for a calendar year, and can be paid by cheque or bank transfer:
BSB: 06 3014
Commonwealth Bank Account Number: 10198637
Name of account: Carlton Community History Group
Send cheque payment to:
Carlton Community History Group
PO Box 148
North Carlton Vic 3054
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:
Note: Retail prices may be higher than the $15 stated above.
- 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
Carlton 120 Years Ago
Too Many Churches?
The Erskine Presbyterian Church was established in Rathdowne Street, Carlton, in the 1860s and by the early 20th century was facing something of a crisis. The Carlton demographic had changed since the early days and church attendance numbers were dropping off. In January 1903 the Presbytery of Melbourne North met to consider amalgamating some of churches in the area. The nearest Presbyterian church was St Andrews, two blocks south on the corner of Rathdowne and Queensberry streets.
TOO MANY CHURCHES.
PRESBYTERIANISM IN CARLTON.
At the meeting of the Presbytery of Melbourne North this afternoon, the commission which visited the Erskine Church, Carlton, submitted the following report:– The Commission would call the earnest attention of the Presbytery to the peculiar position occupied by the Congregation, and the special difficulties it has to contend with. We found in Erskine Church a united, loyal, earnest and liberal people. But we also found a small congregation struggling to maintain ordinances, burdened with a load of debt greater than it can bear. The relations between minister and people are most harmonious, and together they are carrying on a work that says much for their courage, hope, and faith. Some of the reasons for their present position are:–1. The small number of Presbyterians now in the district, in proportion to the population.
2. That a considerable proportion of the population is made up of aliens, Jews, and Roman Catholics, and those who can only be reached by special mission methods.
3. That there is a considerable boarding-house population, which is not easily brought into church connection.
4. The confined area in which the church has got to work, taken in conjunction with the fact that there are five other Presbyterian churches within a mile of Erskine church.
The courage and zeal of the minister and people in doing the work they have done through all these years, under, such circumstances, is beyond all praise. It is not within the province of the Commission to go further than to state the facts, as it found them, and leave it to the Presbytery to take them into its serious consideration, and then to act as in its wisdom it may deem best. On this subject, the Rev. J. T. Robertson submitted the following motion:–
Whereas it is commonly felt that the resources of the church available for carrying on the work of God in Carlton and its immediate neighborhood might be more effectively employed by a re-arrangement of the existing congregations and their parishes; and whereas four churches in that district being now vacant, an opportunity is offered, in the Providence of God, of considering the whole circumstances, the Presbytery appoint a committee to confer with the elders and mangers of the churches concerned, with the view of forming some judgment as to the desirability of uniting two or more of them, or in any other way re-arranging their corporate life so as to employ the resources of the church in the best way for the best interests of the kingdom of God.
He strongly supported the appointment of a committee to consider the question of amalgamating the churches in Carlton. After a lengthy discussion it was decided to appoint a committee.
The Herald, 13 January, 1903, p. 4
The United Presbyterian Church of Victoria was formed in Melbourne in January 1850, and initially the congregation met at St Patrick's Hall in Bourke Street. The Erskine Church, named after one of the founders of the secession movement in Scotland, was opened in April 1858 at a new church building in Lonsdale Street. This church was closed in June 1861, in anticipation of another church being built in the rapidly growing residential area of Carlton. In the interim, services were held at Trades Hall in Lygon Street. The crown grant of an acre of land, on the south west corner of Rathdowne and Grattan streets, was gazetted in February 1862. The church, described as "a plain, unpretending brick structure", was opened for worship in April 1862.1,2,3
Within a decade, the State Aid to Religion Abolition Act (391/1871) enabled established churches to raise revenue from the sale of pre-existing crown land grants. Under section 3 of the Act: "Denominations may dispose of trust lands granted by the Crown and apply proceeds to denominational purposes". For the Erskine Church, this afforded the opportunity to build a bigger and better place of worship, albeit on a smaller block of land. The foundation stone was laid in July 1874 and the church, designed by Crouch & Wilson, opened for worship in February 1875. A large two storey house, also designed by Crouch & Wilson, was built in Rathdowne Street in 1881, followed by a Sunday school building, facing Grattan Street, in 1889. The magnificent church spire, which would have marked the highest point in the area, later became unstable and had to be demolished in 1925, though the imposing tower was retained. 4,5,6,7
The Erskine Church celebrated its centenary in 1950, paying homage to its antecedent, the United Presbyterian Church of Victoria. During the 1950s and 1960s the Carlton demographic was changing, with an influx of post-World War 2 migration from Europe. In June 1951 the Rev. M. W. J. Geursen of the Netherlands Reformed Church, a member of the International Presbyterian Church Alliance, arrived in Melbourne to minister to Dutch migrants. Rev. Geursen was awarded the decoration of Chevalier in the Order of Orange-Nassau by Queen Juliana of the Netherlands in 1956 for service to the Dutch community. By the early 1960s, the Erskine Church was once again facing a crisis, with a dwindling congregation and increasing costs involved in maintaining the 1870s church building. The building was leased to the Greek Orthodox Church for the remainder of the decade and demolished – by Melbourne icon Whelan the Wrecker – in 1971.8,9,10,11,12
Notes and references:
1 Erskine Presbyterian Church, Centenary 1850-1950, p. 4
2 Victoria Government Gazette, 15 February 1862, p. 311
3 The Argus, 24 March 1862, p. 5
4 Victoria. State Aid to Religion Abolition Act (391/1871)
5 The Age, 17 February 1875, p. 2
6 Australian Architectural Index
7 Erskine Presbyterian Church, Centenary 1850-1950, p. 7
8 The Argus, 9 June 1951, p. 3
9 The Argus, 28 April 1956, p. 8
10 Demolition Permit D3373, 20 September 1971 (VPRS 17292)
11 Public Building Files (VPRS 7882/P1/546)
12 Graeme Butler's photos of the Erskine Church during demolition can be viewed at:
The Last Post for Rathdowne Street
Digitised Image: State Library of Victoria
North Carlton Post Office
After nearly 100 years of delivering letters and parcels, the North Carlton Post Office in Rathdowne Street closed its doors at midday on Friday 14 October 2022, and re-opened the following Monday at 607 Lygon Street, Princes Hill. The large brick building at 546 Rathdowne Street, on the corner of Richardson Street, was the first purpose-built post office in North Carlton. The vacant land was acquired by the Commonwealth Government in 1911 and plans were drawn up in 1912. While no report of the official opening date has been located, the post office was in operation by 1913. Over the years, the building has undergone several changes, reflecting developments in postal and telecommunication services. In the original floor plans, the two enclosed booths either side of the main façade are designated as telephone boxes, in the days when public telephone calls were operated-connected. External telephone boxes were added decades later to the picket-fenced area north of the building, and subsequently removed as the demand for public telephone access waned. The external brickwork has been painted over and is now a cream colour. In recent years, steps and a ramp for disabled access have been added to the front entrance.1
The need for postal and telegraph services in the rapidly-growing suburb of North Carlton was demonstrated decades before the new post office was built. In February 1888, a deputation comprising Mr Gardiner (MLA) and Councillor Mills called on the Postmaster General to open the Rathdowne Street telegraph station as a matter of necessity. The first North Carlton post office premises recorded in Sands & McDougall in 1888 was a shop at 783 Rathdowne Street, near the Macpherson Street corner. Miss Eliza White was the postmistress and she shared the premises with Mrs G. White, a stationer. In the early days of Carlton, it was not uncommon for postal services to be operated in conjunction with other businesses, such as stationers and newsagents. Miss and Mrs White remained at the address until 1892, when both moved to 797 Rathdowne Street, a short distance north of the Macpherson Street corner. The next move occurred in 1896 to 428 Rathdowne Street, on the east side, and the last recorded listing was in 1913.2,3
Elsewhere in Carlton, the post office at 146 Elgin Street was built in 1883 and officially opened in April 1884. The Carlton Post Office was closed in 2021 and postal operations were moved to the retail area in Lygon Court.4,5
Notes and references:
1 Digitised plans and historic photos of the North Carlton Post Office building are available on the National Archives of Australia website.
2 The Argus, 2 February 1888, p. 11
3 Building occupancy information has been sourced from Sands & McDougall directories and Melbourne City Council rate books.
4 The Age, 28 July 1883, p. 6
5 The Age, 2 April 1884, p. 5
The Bigamist, the Goose and the Canary Thief
Friday 16 February 1900 was Eva Dixon's special day. She was to marry her sweetheart Daniel and their first baby was already on the way. The bridal couple travelled to Lyndhurst in Rathdowne Street, Carlton, and were welcomed by Rev. Archibald Turnbull. He was a socialist clergyman, well known for his political activism, and he advertised marriage services at his residence. The wedding ceremony was conducted according to the rites of Our Father's Church and witnessed by two of Rev. Turnbull's daughters, Ada and Mary. Vows were exchanged, documents were signed and the marriage was duly registered under the names of Eva Emma Dixon and Daniel Samuels. But something was wrong. Daniel Samuels was not the man he claimed to be and his past would soon catch up with him.
To read Daniel's story, go to the Crime in Carlton page
Born on Christmas Day
"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
NEGLECT OF CHILDREN
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 and was away in Sydney for medical treatment at the time of his arrest. 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.
BRIEF SESSIONS SITTING
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?
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.
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
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
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
"No Parking" Sign in Canning Street, North Carlton
Iron Lacework, Cnr. Canning and Macpherson Streets, North Carlton
This sign on the median strip in Canning Street, North Carlton, states quite clearly:
Keep off the Grass
NO PARKING ON LAWN RESERVATION
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
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.
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
Shakespeare Street Mural
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
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
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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