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 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
  • Kylie's Slow Dough, 649 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton
  • Railway House, 20 Solly Ave, Princes Hill
  • Royal Historical Society of Victoria Bookshop, 239 a'Beckett Street, North Carlton
Note: Retail prices may be higher than the $15 stated above.


Carlton 90 Years Ago
Up in Flames

In the 1930s, gas-fuelled pressing irons were promoted as an economical alternative to electric irons. Instead of a power cord, the gas iron had a flexible tube that connected to the gas supply. When ignited, the gas fed a series of burners within the body of the iron, which in turn heated the sole plate. While gas irons were efficient in heating, the naked flames could pose a fire risk. In December 1931 the fire brigade identified a gas iron, left burning during the lunchtime break, as the most likely cause of a fire that gutted a two storey factory in Holtom Street, Princes Hill.

The two young women who were inside the factory at the time were commended for their efforts to save their workplace, especially Miss Lily Crothers who tried to put out the fire with buckets of water. However, her heroic action in going back upstairs in an attempt to call the fire brigade could have ended in tragedy. We hope that the women, who lost personal items in the fire, were suitably compensated by their employers, Messrs H. and N. Simons.

£7000 FIRE
Factory Blaze in Carlton
PLUCKY GIRL
Effort to Check Flames

About £7000 worth of damage was caused by a fire which broke out in the factory of Messrs H. and N. Simons, cap manufacturers, corner of McIlwraith and Holton [sic] Streets, North Carlton, at 12.30 p.m. today. Miss Lily Crothers, a girl employe, made a plucky attempt to check the blaze. She was defeated by the dense smoke and intense heat, and was lucky to escape unharmed. The firm's stock, which included linings, tweeds, rolls of silk and other raw materials, as well as about 1400 caps, was destroyed. The damage to the interior woodwork of the building and the windows is estimated at £500.

Gas-Iron Theory

The Fire Brigade theory is that the blaze was caused by a gas-iron, which was left burning on a long wooden pressing bench when most of the hands left the factory for lunch at 12.20 pm. This iron was surrounded by caps and inflammable materials. It is probable that the draught from the doorway played on to the gas-jet inside the iron, blowing it on to one of the caps, which ignited. Miss Crothers and another girl employee, Miss Rita Beasley, of Brunswick, were the only people in the factory when the fire began. Another girl had gone to a shop some distance away to buy her lunch. Miss Crothers and Miss Beasley were having their lunch in a room at the back of the first floor of the building, which is of two storeys, with brick walls and iron-barred windows.

Only Trickle From Hose

"It was about 12.30 pm." Miss Crothers said today. "Suddenly we realised that smoke was flooding up the stairway. We ran to the stairs and hurried down. A pile of boxes, containing caps, was blazing on the ground floor. Miss Beasley ran outside to call Mr H. Simons, who lives nearby. I stayed behind to see if I could do anything to stop the fire. I tried to turn on the fire hose, but it wouldn't work. Only a trickle of water came through. There were some filled fire buckets on the floor, and I emptied them on to the flames. The fire was then burning fiercely. The heat was terrific, and the smoke stung my eyes and made it difficult to me to see."

Beaten Back By Smoke

"The telephone is on the first floor, and I tried to run upstairs to ring the Fire Brigade. When I was nearly to the top I had to retreat. It was all I could do to breathe, because of the smoke. When I got downstairs again I grabbed two of the buckets and tried to fight my way to the back of the building where there is a water tap. I just couldn't make it. The smoke and flames were too thick. I had to drop everything and get to the door as quickly as I could. Perhaps I wasn't in any really grave danger of being trapped, but the flames were leaping right through the place, and I had an uncomfortable feeling that I might be cut from the door."

Brigade Called

The brigade was called by a house-holder nearby, who saw the rolling smoke, and telephoned Eastern Hill. Detachments of men and hose carriages from Carlton, North Fitzroy and Brunswick were immediately ordered to the fire. When the firemen arrived flames were shooting from every window. A breeze was blowing, and this passed through the windows and fanned the flames. The men could do nothing but train their hoses on the fire to prevent it spreading. They had it under control within a few minutes, but a squad of men was left on duty to watch the smouldering shell of the factory. Mr H. Simons, who, with his brother, Mr N. Simons, owns the building and operates the factory, said that an endeavor would be made to find temporary quarters at once or to repair the burned building so as to enable business to continue. If neither of these courses was possible, about 16 employes would be out of work.

Insurance £6800

Miss Crothers and Miss Beasley lost their coats and handbags, which they forgot until they were outside the building. The stock contents of the factory were insured for £5300, and the building for £1500.

The Herald, 4 December 1931, p. 7

The factory on the corner of Holtom and McIlwraith streets was built in 1918 and extended ten years later in 1928. After the 1931 fire, the Simons brothers wasted no time in getting production back on track and they applied for a building permit (application no. 13389) within two weeks. The cap manufacturing business continued for several decades and the building is now residential.

Note: A photo of the fire-damaged factory building appears on page 4 of The Herald on 4 December 1931.


The Greening of Hughes Street


Image: CCHG
Hughes Street, North Carlton, looking east towards Drummond Street

Hughes Street in North Carlton has had a landscape makeover, with new trees and garden beds planted by City of Yarra. Hughes is one of the lesser known small streets of North Carlton, running between Drummond and Lygon streets and backing onto Pigdon Street. Even those unfamiliar with the street location could not help but notice the ornate Greek Orthodox Church that stands on the corner at 998 Lygon Street.

Hughes Street had its origins in 1871, when John Hughes purchased six crown allotments in the area bounded by Lygon, Pigdon and Drummond streets. The street was slow to develop, with the first house built on the north side by James Macpherson in 1875. This was a two storey house described as "brick, 6 rooms, bath, balcony, verandah" in the rate books for 1876, and the address later became 24 Hughes Street. There was a ten year gap in building activity until 1886, when seven cottages were built by John Calman, to the design of architect W.A. Fettes. These cottages, later numbered 8 to 20, filled in eight of the ten building allotments on the north side of the street, with vacant land on either side of the original two storey house. The cottages were advertised for sale in 1887 and again in 1902. Hughes Street had to wait nearly three decades for one of the two remaining building blocks to be filled. In 1929, a brick factory was built for the Matar Brothers, tobacco manufacturers, at 26 Hughes Street. This became a clothing factory, Les Couture Pty Ltd, in the 1960s. The north side of Hughes Street is now entirely residential. With limited open space available on their properties, local residents have created a communal garden in the back lane, which is shared with the corresponding houses in Pigdon Street. 1,2,3,4,5,6,7


Image: CCHG
Communal garden at rear of Hughes Street

The south side of Hughes Street, where Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church now stands, followed a different historical path. This land was considered part of Lygon Street for rating purposes and has remained so. George McCahon built a shop and residence fronting Lygon Street in 1883, and another on the Hughes Street corner in 1891. Mr McCahon was a grocer by trade and his son, also named George, operated a wood yard at the rear of the premises. Running concurrently with the business, the site was a temporary home for the Princes Hill Presbyterian Church, where services were conducted from the early 1890s through to about 1910, when George McCahon senior died. This was the first documented use of the site as a church, decades before the Greek Orthodox Church was built. The site was acquired and occupied by Wilson & Frazer Pty Ltd, fuel and produce merchants, in the 1920s. In April 1938, there was a serious motor accident in which a truck crashed into the corner building, bringing down powerlines and part of a brick wall. The two men in the truck cabin were trapped for some time under tons of straw, hay and bricks. Both were seriously injured, but they survived the crash. Ownership of the site changed again in 1966 and by that time the land had been vacant for at least two years. The new Greek Orthodox Church, built in 1968, is considered historically and architecturally significant for its contribution to post-World War 2 European immigrant communities. 8,9,10,11,12,13

Notes and References:
1 Crown titles volume 430, folios 937, 938, 939, 943, 944, 945
2 Australian Architectural Index, record no. 78039
3 Australian Architectural Index, record no. 79185
4 The Herald, 18 April 1887, p. 2
5 The Argus, 13 December 1902, p. 14
6 Building Application Index
7 Australian Architectural Index, record no. 78741
8 Australian Architectural Index, record no. 79730
9 The Age, 26 December 1891, p. 12
10 Certificate of title volume 4537, folio 235
11 The Age, 16 April 1938, p. 11
12 Certificate of title volume 4537, folio 235
13 The Yarra Heritage Database cites a build date of circa 1968, while the Melbourne City Council rate book for Victoria Ward records the site as vacant land until 1970. Sands & McDougall directories list the church at the site from 1968.


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


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 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 – just before St Patrick's Day – 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 2022. 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.
12 https://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/dan-oconnell-hotel

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)


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Inner Circle Railway
Carlton Voices
Carlton Girls
The Stockade
Walking along Rathdowne Street

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