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, an inner suburb 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 newsletter, like us on facebook, share your recollections and participate in our meetings and activities.


Special Zoom Presentation
Tuesday 29 June 2021 @ 7.30 pm


Photographer: John Thompson
The Inner Circle Line, near the North Carlton Railway Station, in the 1960s

On Tuesday 29 June 2021 @ 7.30 pm, you can enjoy two illustrated presentations on aspects of the transport history of Carlton from the comfort of your own home:

To take part in these presentations you will need to register. Email Jeff at jeffann@bigpond.net.au and a link will be sent to you in the days before the presentation.


Shirley Reid
Belle of the Ballroom


Image: The Argus Week-End Magazine, 5 November 1949, p. 5

With her distinctive auburn hair and glamour girl looks, Shirley Reid cut a fine figure on the dance floor. But there was more to competitive ballroom dancing than wearing high heels and elegant dresses. Shirley, who lived in Amess Street, North Carlton, spent many hours of practice perfecting her art. She was rewarded in July 1947 with the title "Belle of the Ballroom of Australia".

DANCING AND DANCERS
SOME IMPORTANT TITLES STILL TO BE DECIDED

With the completion of the Amateur Open and Tango championships of the Victorian Society of Dancing last week, the competition season is well under way. During the next few weeks a number of important championships will be held. The biggest of the competitions still to be held are the Australian Dancing Society championships, which commence on August 23, and the old-time championship of the V.S.D. on August 21. The A.D.S. titles will be decided during a week's festival of dancing at the Exhibition Buildings [in Carlton]. The four main sections of the A.D.S. championships are the fresher, novice and open amateur, and the professional titles, for which Victorian and Inter-State couples, will compete. In addition there will be a jitterbug contest. The prize for the winning professional couple will be an overseas trip for the London "Star" championships of 1948. The old-time championship of the V.S.D. is the counterpart of the just-completed modern championship, and is also regarded as one of the most important events of the Victorian dancing season. The title will be decided at Brunswick town hall.

Two other big events of interest to dancers are the Inter-State freshers' competition, of which the final will be decided at the Trocadero Palais on Monday, and the provincial old-time championships of the V.S.D. Heats and semi-finals of the inter-State freshers' competition have been running for a number of weeks. The V.S.D. provincial championships will be held at St. Peter's Hall, Ballarat, on Saturday. Miss Shirley Reid, who won the title of Belle of the Ballroom of Australia at Sydney Trocadero two weeks ago, will be guest at Bon and Noel Gibbins' gala night at Moonee Ponds town hall on Monday. The other 40 finalists of this contest will also be present. Miss Reid, who comes from North Carlton, was judged Victorian winner at Heidelberg town hall. She then went to Sydney and gained the Australian title.

The Age, 24 July 1947, p. 7

Shirley was voted "Personality Girl of Danceland" in 1947 and she went on to be a Victorian entrant in the Miss Australia Quest in 1949, when she was 21 years of age. Her image appeared in local and interstate newspapers and, in a celebration of the colour red, she was photographed with Caulfield Cup winner "Red Fury" and a "red-coated" collie dog at Flannery's stables in Mordialloc. Shirley Reid did not win the title of Miss Australia – that honour went to Margaret Hughes of Rose Bay in Sydney – but she won the heart of fellow dancer Michael Davis. Their engagement was announced in The Herald in February 1950 and they were married in St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne, in December of the same year.1,2,3,4

Notes and References:
1 The Herald, 14 September 1949, p. 13
2 The Argus Week-End Magazine, 5 November 1949, p. 5
3 The Herald, 22 February 1950, p. 17
4 Weekly Times, 20 December 1950, p. 47


The Bank Manager's Confession

Donald Vernon Cantwell was a rising star in the world of banking. The Melbourne-born lad joined the staff of the English, Scottish and Australian (E.S. and A.) Bank as a junior clerk in 1909 and, over the next two decades, he worked his way up to senior positions of accountant and branch manager. Cantwell served in World War 1 and was wounded in action in France. While overseas, he married Jessie Thomson, the daughter of shipwright Duncan Thomson, in Edinburgh in June 1919. Two months later, the newlyweds boarded the "Ceramic" bound for Australia, arriving there at the end of September 1919. 1

In 1930, Cantwell was appointed manager of the Carlton branch of E.S. and A. in Swanston Street and his career path was assured. However, his private world was falling apart. He had been living beyond his means for some time and had falsified bank transactions to make up the shortfall. In a letter to the branch inspector, Cantwell made a full and frank confession and tendered his resignation. The matter could have been dealt with internally by the bank but, because Cantwell had abused his position of responsibility as branch manager, he was prosecuted in July 1930.

BANK MANAGER SENT TO GAOL.
CONFESSES HE TOOK ABOUT £500.
Expenditure More Than Income.

Before Mr. Bond, P.M., in the City Court yesterday Donald Vernon Cantwell, 37 years, bank manager, was charged with having on 16th May last, while a servant of the E.S. and A. Bank, stolen £16 2/0, and with having on 14th April stolen £162 10/.

Mr. A. L. Read, who appeared to prosecute for the bank, said the accused was the manager of the Swanston-street branch of the E.S. and A. Bank. On 16th May accused prepared a debit note purporting to represent the amount of exchange on London payable in respect to an amount of £300, said to have been the amount represented in a transaction of the Australian Tie Company, which had a current account at the bank. The exchange rate was set down on the debit note at 5⅜ per cent. Accused, it was alleged, presented the note to a teller in the bank, who paid Cantwell the money. With regard to the amount of £162 10/, the same procedure was followed. A debit slip was prepared by accused in respect to a cheque for £2500 by Steele and Co. Pty. Ltd., which was also supposed to have sold money in London to the bank, and in this instance the exchange rate was 6½ per cent. The allegation was that both transactions were bogus.

Leslie W. Male, inspecting officer of the bank, said accused entered the bank's service in 1909, and subsequently he became accountant at the bank. He became manager early this year. The writing on the debit slips was in accused's hand writing. The money had not been accounted for by Cantwell. On 24th May last accused handed witness a letter signed by him and addressed to the branch inspector. The letter contained the following confession: –

It is with extreme regret and shame that I have to confess I have been guilty of misappropriating the bank's funds through wrong entries in the official accounts. To the best of my belief the total is about £500, extending back twelve months. No customers' accounts are involved. I realise nothing I can say absolves me from responsibility and punishment. For some time I seemed to be living beyond my income, which, in view of my position and the circle of customers I mixed in, has not been great, although I appreciate that, in view of my age, I have been well treated by the bank. None of the money has gone in gambling, drinking, or such like vices. My habits and reputation are well known to you. The greatest factor has been a lack of care and attention to my private affairs through my becoming too absorbed in the business of the bank even in my leisure hours, and also to the fact that I purchased a motor car. I gradually fell in arrears in my private accounts. I beg to be permitted to resign on my making restitution. I make this plea not for myself, but for my wife's sake. She is not strong. The staff at the bank is blameless.

Evidence was given by representatives of the Australian Tie Company and Steele and Co. Pty. Ltd. to the effect that they did not enter into the transactions mentioned in the debit notes written out by accused. Mr. E. Gorman, K.C., who appeared with Mr. J. O'Driscoll, for accused, said accused could have obtained the money he needed from the majority of his friends. His wife had been ill for over five years, and acting on medical advice, he had sent her to her home town in Scotland. The expense had been too much for him. He would forfeit his retiring allowance of £575, so that the bank would not actually lose anything. He had given the inspecting officer every assistance in investigating the irregularities. Harry Louey Pang, a merchant, said that accused bore a fine character. If he had known he had been in need of money he would have willingly advanced accused £500. Other business men gave evidence as to the good character of accused.

Mr. Bond said it was unusual for the City Court to be asked to deal with such a case, but he had accepted the responsibility. He regretted that a man in a position of trust should have abused it. It was painful, but he would have to sentence accused to six months' imprisonment on each of the two charges, but the sentences would be concurrent.

The Age, 12 July 1930, p. 16

Donald Cantwell served three and a half months of his sentence at Pentridge prison and was released early on 27 October 1930: "By special authority (30/7031 X11289) on entering into his recognisance before a justice of the peace in the sum of £100 with one good & sufficient surety in a like amount, conditioned that for a period of two years then next ensuing, he shall (1) abstain from any violation of the law and be of good behaviour, (2) lead an honest and industrious life." 2

Cantwell was a free man but, with his sullied reputation, he was unable to work in the banking industry. Although he was serving a two year good behaviour bond in Victoria, Donald and his wife Jessie were able to board the ship "Moreton Bay" on 5 November and depart for the United Kingdom, arriving at Southampton on 13 December 1930. The couple travelled as 3rd class passengers and Donald's occupation was recorded as "cost accountant". Their initial destination was Jessie's home town of Edinburgh, and electoral rolls later show them living at several different addresses in England. Donald Cantwell died in 1973, just short of his 83rd birthday, and his estate was valued at £840 for probate purposes. His wife Jessie followed him in 1980.

Notes and References:
1 Cantwell's war service record (NAA:B2455) indicates that, in addition to his war injuries, he was treated for the venereal disease gonorrhoea.
2 Central Register of Male Prisoners (VPRS 515) Cantwell, Donald Vernon: No. 40538
3 The Age, 5 November 1930, p. 6


Garages in Carlton

1072 Lygon Street North Carlton
Image: Courtesy of the Freeman family
Herbert Freeman standing outside his house and garage in Lygon Street, North Carlton

While the first motor cars arrived in Australia in the late 19th and early 20th century, it took several decades before its use became widespread, and it was not until the 1950s or 1960s that the average family in Melbourne was able to afford one. As the popularity of the motor car grew during the first half of the 20th century, the need arose for garages to service and repair them, and to provide petrol for them. In Carlton these garages took a variety of forms – workshops that did repairs, kerbside petrol bowsers, combinations of the two, drive-through service stations, and so on. Some even provided hire cars and drivers for those who did not have their own cars. Our latest newsletter looks at some of the garages that once operated in Carlton.

Read the newsletter now.


Maria's on the Move

After more than two decades in North Carlton, Maria's Pasta has closed its retail outlet. But local residents will not have to go far to buy their fresh pasta, pasta sauces and ready-made meals. The shop has moved just across the road to 706 Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy, the original home of Maria's Pasta dating back to 1985.

Maria's Pasta made the move to larger premises at 677-679 Nicholson Street, North Carlton, in 1995. The large brick building has had several incarnations during its 135 year history. It was originally built by James Spicer, staircase maker, as a joinery factory in 1886. James Spicer died in 1893 and the factory building was bought by William Angliss, a local butcher who went on to build a business empire in the meat trade. Under his ownership, the factory became a printing works and, in 1898, it was home to Madame Demaret & Company, publisher of dressmaking patterns and the "Glass of Fashion" journal. Madame Demaret's patterns were widely sold, with agents appointed in Victoria and interstate. From 1906 to the early 1930s, brewing was the business of the day. The Stacey Brewing Company was well known for its non-alcoholic beer, favoured by temperance advocates, while Bux Brewing had its signature "Stockade" brand, made from Tasmanian hops. Then there was a succession of motor tyre businesses from the mid 1930s through to the 1970s – Thompson & Son Motor Tyres, the Indo Rubber & Tyre Company, and Firestone Australia Pty Ltd. The original 1880s brick structure was substantially rebuilt in 1944, following a fire that sent clouds of acrid smoke from burning tyres over the city and surrounding suburbs. A new roof and verandah were added in later years, between the last two businesses – A distribution centre for Sigma Pharmaceuticals and, more recently, Maria's Pasta. 1,2,3

References:
1 Business occupancy information sourced from Sands & McDougall directories and newspaper advertisements, with additional information from Maria's Pasta.
2 The Argus, 8 April 1944, p. 4
3 Melbourne Building Application Index


Calling All Gobles

Are you related to George Frederick Goble? If yes, CCHG would like to hear from you.

George Frederick Goble was born in Essex, England, in the early 1800s. He lived in England, America and Australia, and he spent his final years in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton. George married Emma Anne Faulden (Foalden) at Longford, Tasmania, in 1838 and they had six children, all born in Launceston, Tasmania. The births of four of these children were registered with the names Emily Ann, Geofred, John William and Marantheo Eliza. George Goble died at Wharton Terrace in Drummond Street, Carlton, on 13 April 1888 and he was buried in an unmarked grave in Melbourne General Cemetery. He shares the grave with John Hely, who died in 1887.

As a veteran of the American Civil War, George Goble may be entitled to a grave marker from the American Veterans' Administration. The Melbourne General Cemetery requires the permission of a living descendant for a grave to be altered. Please contact CCHG if you can assist.


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:

NO PARKING ON LAWN RESERVATION
OFFENDERS PROSECUTED

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

Reference:
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 is a Carlton institution and perhaps best known for its St Patrick's Day celebrations. The present 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 continues to trade in the 21st century and remains the only 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

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.

References:
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)


Have you seen our latest publications?

Carlton Voices
Carlton Girls
The Stockade
Walking along Rathdowne Street

Visit the publications page for more information.


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