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, share your recollections and participate in our meetings and activities.
Monday 5 September to Friday 30 September
Special Event in September 2016
September marks the first anniversary of artist Des Norman's death. To celebrate his life and work, there will be a display of prints from the CCHG publication "Through the eyes of a child, A street in Carlton, 1939-45 : Paintings & Commentary by Des Norman" at Rathdowne Place, 497 Rathdowne Street, Carlton. The images on display have been selected in consultation with Stella Norman and the event is kindly sponsored by Australian Unity.
The display can be viewed in the foyer of Rathdowne Place, 497 Rathdowne Street, Carlton during business hours.
Meeting Dates For 2016
Monday 3 October (Planning Meeting)
Monday 7 November (Guest Speaker: Mary Sheehan - Carlton from slum to sought-after location)
Monday 5 December (Guest Speaker: Gemma Di Bari - Bridging a gap in the Italian community of Carlton, through print, advertising and 'un buon caffé'.)
Time: 7.30 pm Location: Carlton Library
667 Rathdowne Street
More information on Guest Speakers
Coffee Serving Window at Masons
Corner of Rathdowne and O'Grady Streets North Carlton
Building occupancy information has been sourced from Walking along Rathdowne Street : 100 years of shopping, services and stories in North Carlton, CCHG, 2012, p. 12.
While not as famous as the "rear window" of Alfred Hitchcock's classic film of 1954, the side window of 344 Rathdowne Street, with its distinctive grille, has its own place in cinematic history. The two-storey building, on the corner of O'Grady Street, North Carlton, was once the home and studio of photographer and film maker Giorgio Mangiamele. Giorgio arrived in Australia as a migrant from Italy in 1952, and the following year he directed and appeared in his first feature film, Il Contratto, about four Italian migrants who come to Australia under a two year government work contract. His later films, mostly shot in Carlton and North Carlton, dealt with themes of loneliness, alienation, and the migrant experience.
The Side Window
In 1954 Giorgio established a successful photographic business in the former grocer's shop in Rathdowne Street, serving mainly the Italian community. He made optimum use of the building and excavated the basement for a darkroom. Interior and exterior shots of the building, including the side window, featured in several of his films. The front window facing Rathdowne Street was dressed up as a shoe shop for Giorgio's acclaimed film Clay in 1965. This film was shot at Montsalvat in Eltham, but in one scene the character named Nick, a man on the run from the police, comes into town to buy a new pair of boots. (As an interesting bit of trivia, the building next door at 342 Rathdowne Street, now a private residence, was a boot store for a few years in the 1930s.)
Prior to Giorgio's ownership, the corner building was grocery business operated by Henry Shillit. It was originally a butcher's shop in the 1890s, followed by a confectioner's and fruit shop. Since the 1980s, the building has seen a succession of restaurants and cafés, the most recent being Masons, with its coffee serving window, in 2016. Serving windows have become popular in recent years, satisfying Carlton's appetite for a coffee fix. As an Italian and a coffee lover, Giorgio Mangiamele would approve.
More information on Giorgio Mangiamele
Former Bank Building
Corner of Elgin and Rathdowne Streets Carlton
(Now occupied by Prinzi Collections)
Notes and References:
1 Elgin Scrap Metals Pty Ltd owned the corner site from 1980 to 1984, when ownership was transferred to Mordcha Pty Ltd.
2 Bank branch locations sourced from advertisements in Sands and McDougall.
3 The Argus, 24 March 1884, p. 15
4 Australian Architectural Index, record no. 78821
5 The National Bank of Australasia was established in 1858, two years after the Colonial Bank of Australasia.
6 Geoffrey Blainey and Geoffrey Hutton. Gold and paper 1858-1982 : A history of the National Bank of Australasia, Macmillan, 1983. p. 184
7 ibid, p. 322
Bank branch closures are all too common in the era of internet banking, but for the National Australia Bank in Carlton, it was a case of "one branch closes and another opens." The Carlton branch at 129 Elgin Street closed its doors on Friday 12 August 2016 and re-opened at 288 Lygon Street on Wednesday 17 August. The branch had occupied the single-storey building on the south west Rathdowne Street corner site, next to Elgin Scrap Metals, since 1984. But the bank's history in Carlton goes back another hundred years. 1
The Last Bank in Elgin Street
The Colonial Bank of Australasia was established in 1856 and by 1884 it had fifty branches in town and country Victoria. In March 1884, a small advertisement appeared in The Argus inviting tenders for the erection of a new Colonial Bank of Australasia at Carlton. The following month, a notice of intent was lodged with Melbourne City Council to construct a bank building on the north west corner of Rathdowne and Elgin Streets (later numbered 126 Elgin Street). The bank was designed by architects Smith & Johnson and built by Alex Kemp of Rathdowne Street, North Carlton. There were branches of the Bank of Victoria, Commercial Bank of Australia, London Chartered Bank, and Savings Bank of Victoria already established in Carlton, but the economy was booming in the 1880s and increased competition was considered good for business. A few years later, the Colonial Bank of Australasia survived the depression of the 1890s, while many other banks and financial institutions went to the wall. 2,3,4
The final phase of the Colonial Bank of Australasia's life came in the immediate post-World War 1 period. The Colonial Bank of Australasia merged with the larger National Bank of Australasia, in what was regarded as a positive business move at the time. On 25 November 1918, the Colonial Bank of Australasia went into liquidation and its staff, accounts and premises were transferred to the National Bank of Australasia. The stationery and signage at the Carlton branch was changed and the bank continued to operate at the Rathdowne Street corner site until the 1980s. 5,6
The 1980s saw major changes, with government deregulation of the banking and finance sector. The National Bank of Australasia merged with the Commercial Banking Company in 1982 to become the National Australia Bank. The Carlton branch at 126 Elgin Street moved across the street to the newly-constructed building at 129 Elgin Street in 1984, and remained there until its closure in 2016. While the National Australia Bank still has a branch in the Lygon Street tourist precinct, Elgin Street has, regrettably, lost its last bank. 7
Play Area at Lincoln Square Carlton
Lincoln Square, in Swanston Street Carlton, has seen it all. This leafy green space close to the CBD, site of a Bali Memorial and reserved for public use since 1853, has survived attempted road incursions, locked gates, gang warfare, a gruesome murder and a recent take-over by skateboarders.
Fun and Games at Lincoln Square
Find out more about the history of this significant public space.
Former Cable Tram Engine House
Corner of Rathdowne and Park Streets North Carlton
Site of Former North Carlton Cable Tram Route
Rathdowne Street North Carlton
Notes and References:
1 John Keating. Mind the Curve. Transit Australia Publishing, Rev. ed., 1972, p. 137
2 The Carlton cable tram route (also known as Johnston Street Bridge) travelled via Lygon, Elgin and Johnston Streets and terminated at Abbotsford. The North Carlton route followed the Carlton route to Rathdowne Street, then travelled north to Park Street. Lygon Street north of Elgin Street was not part of the cable tram network.
3 The Advocate, 18 June 1887, p. 19
4 The Age, 25 April 1888, p. 5
5 The Age, 21 July 1890, p. 6
6 The Age, 20 July 1928, p. 15
7 The Argus, 27 April 1914, p. 11
8 The Age, 9 December 1890, p. 6
9 The Age, 7 July 1924, p. 10
10 The Age, 15 April 1919, p. 6
11 Yarra Trams Website
12 The Argus, 3 August 1936, p. 8
13 The Age, 16 May 2016
14 The Age, 13 July 2016
August 2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the last cable tram to run along Rathdowne Street, North Carlton. The North Carlton route from Elgin Street to Park Street, opened on 9 February 1889, was a relative latecomer to Melbourne's cable tram network. Melbourne commenced its first cable tram service to Richmond in 1885, and services along Nicholson Street to Park Street, and Carlton via Lygon and Elgin Streets were introduced on 30 August and 21 December 1887. Lygon Street north of Elgin Street was not part of the cable tram network and had to wait until August 1916 for an electric tram service. 1,2
The Perils of Tram Travel
Cable trams revolutionalised public transport and enabled large numbers of passengers to travel at an affordable cost. But, like any innovation, tram travel was not without its problems. Road users – people crossing the street, children at play, cyclists, hand carts and horse drawn vehicles – had to make way for a larger and more powerful beast. Inevitably, there were accidents, some fatal, and The Advocate reported in June 1887: "By tram accidents no less than six persons have lost their lives and twenty-three been injured in less than two years." 3
Carlton had its fair share of mishaps on the streets serviced by cable trams. Carlton's first tram fatality occurred on the evening of 24 April 1888, when a nine year old boy named Thomas Stewart was caught underneath a dummy car in Lygon Street. The boy, who lived with his parents in Union Place, Carlton, died soon after arrival at Melbourne Hospital. Children were, unfortunately, often casualties of tram accidents. Two young children playing in Lygon Street were injured in July 1890. They had moved out of the way to avoid an oncoming tram, but were hit by another travelling in the opposite direction. In October 1927, Victor Stobaus, aged seven years, had his foot badly crushed when it was caught under the wheel of a tram in Rathdowne Street near Newry Street. The foot was later amputated, but young Victor's disability not prevent him from becoming a talented footballer in the Melbourne Boys' League. Victor's father, Robert Stobaus, made an unsuccessful claim for £499 damages against the Tramways Board in the County Court in July 1928. 4,5,6
Saturday 25 April 1914 was a particularly bad day for tram accidents in Carlton. In the morning, Walter England, a clerk at the Carlton Court, fell from a moving tram on the corner of Lygon and Drummond streets, and was dragged some distance along the road. Mr. England suffered injuries to his ribs and hip and was admitted to the Melbourne Hospital for treatment. That afternoon, a more serious accident took place near the corner of Grattan and Lygon Streets. John Griffiths, a 26 year old tutor at the University High School, was crossing the road behind a north-bound tram when he was struck by another tram travelling towards the city. Mr. Griffiths was pinned beneath the dummy of the tram, which had to be lifted off the rails before he could be extricated. He was taken to the Melbourne Hospital, suffering from a compound fracture of the leg, extensive abrasions, and shock. 7
Tram passengers were also at risk in the old open-style tram cars. Sarah Dicker, a young woman who worked at Mrs Garland's fancy goods shop in Drummond Street, had a fainting fit and fell from a tram onto the road in Elgin Street in December 1890. She suffered head and facial injuries. Charles W. Jonah, aged 76, of Union Place, Carlton failed to heed the tram gripman's warning of "mind the curve" and fell from a tram as it turned the corner from Rathdown Street into Elgin Street in July 1924. Mr Jonah was admitted to hospital and discharged after treatment. 8,9
Of all the tram accidents reported, possibly the most tragic occurred in April 1919, while a tram car was being shunted at the sheds in Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy. Tram gripman Victor Cocking, who lived nearby in Canning Street, North Carlton, was entering Nicholson Street from Mary Street when he saw a child fall off the back of a dummy car. He rushed across Nicholson Street but he did not know, until he picked up the child's body, that it was his own son, John Cocking. The boy, aged six years, died later that evening in the Children's Hospital. 10
Cable trams had their heyday in the 19th century, but lasted only a few decades into the 20th century. The cable tram network was phased out from the 1920s through to 1940 in favour of electric trams, which promised a more efficient service and better carrying capacity. Lygon Street already had an electric tram service, dating back to 1916, north of Elgin Street. The Carlton, North Carlton and Nicholson Street cable tram routes were replaced with motor buses. When the North Carlton route closed on 2 August 1936, both the tram car and crew were besieged by souvenir hunters, seeking a piece of memorabilia. The building that housed the cable winding mechanism still stands on the corner of Rathdowne and Park Streets, and a median strip planted with oak trees marks the spot where cable trams once glided by. Melbourne's last cable tram ride was from Bourke Street in the city to Northcote on the evening of 26 October 1940. Services via Nicholson Street to East Brunswick were later restored with electric trams in 1956. 11,12
Melbourne's electric tram network, one of the largest in the world, survived threats of closure in the mid-20th century and has continued to grow into the 21st century. The dangerous days when tram passengers travelled on running boards, or by hanging out of open doorways, have gone and many safety features have been incorporated into modern tram design. But accidents can still happen. In May 2016, a tram was derailed and crashed into a house in High Street, Kew, when a car travelling in the opposite direction strayed onto the tram tracks. Two months later in July 2016, a horse drawing a tourist carriage crashed its head through the driver's window of a tram in Swanston Street in the city. As expected, the horse came off second best to the larger and more powerful beast, but was not seriously injured. 13, 14
Related Item: The Cable Trams of Rathdowne Street
Image: State Library of Victoria
Intercolonial Handball Match
Former Loughrea Hotel
75 Elgin Street Carlton
Side Wall of Former Handball Court
22 to 24 Macarthur Place Carlton
Notes and References:
1 Evening News, 3 December 1973, p. 2
2 The Age, 24 May 1869, p. 3
3 The Argus, 16 January 1874, p. 5
4 The Advocate, 17 January 1874, p. 9
5 The Argus, 20 January 1874, p. 4
6 The Argus, 23 January 1874, p. 5
7 The Age, 28 January, p. 3
8 The Tasmanian, 7 February 1874, p. 11
9 The Advocate, 18 December 1874, p. 15
10 The Argus, 1 March 1875, p. 5
11 The Age, 3 June 1882, p. 6
12 The Age, 24 October 1905, p. 10
13 Index to Defunct Hotel Licences (VPRS 8159)
14 Land title records
15 Building Application Index (Melbourne City Council)
In November 1873, Victoria issued a sporting challenge to New South Wales to play Australia's first intercolonial handball match. New South Wales accepted the challenge "for either money or honour" but, in the spirit of sportsmanship, they agreed to play for honour only. The New South Wales contingent favoured their home town of Sydney for the inaugral match during the Christmas holiday period. However, Victoria won the first round by declaring that Melbourne would be a popular sporting destination at that time, owing to the visit of the All England Eleven, and the New Year's racing. 1
For Honour or Money
With the city decided, a suitable playing venue had to be found. There was a handball court in King Street, Melbourne, but Carlton, just out of the city, offered an alternative venue. The Carlton handball court, at the rear of the Loughrea (Lough Rea) Hotel in Elgin Street and backing onto Macarthur Place, was built by publicans Peter Taylor and John Curtain. The court was opened officially in May 1869 and was well patronised for both handball and racquet games. As publican of the Loughrea Hotel, Mr Taylor was able to provide a ready supply of drinks to slake the thirst of players and spectators alike. He was also credited with fostering the sport of handball, introduced into Australia by Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century. 2
The first day of play took place on Thursday 15 January 1874 and was attended by a crowd of 250 enthusiastic spectators. Hot weather conditions were trying for both players and spectators, and The Argus commented: "The game is essentially a manly one, and no one with flaccid muscles or short wind can by any possibility ever hope to shine at it." Over the next three hours, the crowd was treated to a series of nine double-handed games, contested by brothers John and James Doyle for Victoria and Messrs. Dillon and Thompson for New South Wales. New South Wales was declared the winner in five out of the nine games, but it was noted that the Victorian players scored 141 points, to the New South Wales players' 137. On the second day of play, Mr Dillon, representing New South Wales, took on Victoria's James Doyle in a series of single-handed matches. Dillon triumphed and things were looking grim for Victoria. 3,4
The final day of play dawned on Monday 19 January 1874 and the Victorian team had one last chance to show their prowess in a series of three-handed games. Prior to the main event, the crowd was kept entertained by a scratch match featuring John Curtain, M.L.A, who "showed that he was no mean player." The atmosphere was electric as the players entered the court - the Doyle brothers and Mr McNamara for Victoria and Messrs. Thomson, Dillon and Gaffney for New South Wales. McNamara proved to be an asset for Victoria, while Gaffney was considered the weak point for New South Wales. Victoria succeeded in winning five games outright and was declared the winner. In the end, New South Wales won the overall competition, but Victoria won the day. 5
Intercolonial rivalry aside, the post-competition mood was good natured and the New South Wales players were treated to a dinner, courtesy of the Hon. Michael O'Grady, at the Manchester Unity Hall in Swanston Street. By special arrangement with John Curtain, M.L.A, and the Minister of Railways, the players were granted free rail travel on government lines within Victoria. On the day of their departure for Sydney via the steamer Wentworth, 27 January 1974, the players had a champagne luncheon and were driven to Sandridge (Port Melbourne) in a drag and pair of greys. The farewell party included John Curtain, members of the Victorian Intercolonial Committee and several of Victoria's leading handball players, all of whom wished the visitors bon voyage and looked forward to meeting them again next year. 6,7,8
In December 1874, while plans were being finalised for the return intercolonial handball match in Sydney, a telegram from Port Darwin announced the death of Peter Taylor. When the news was later relayed to the Carlton handball court, the matches scheduled for that day were cancelled and the court was closed as a mark of respect for the man who had done so much to establish handball as a permanent fixture on Melbourne's sporting calendar. In February 1875, the Victorian team won easily against New South Wales over three days of competition. No doubt Peter Taylor would have been proud of their achievement. 9,10
The intercolonial handball match became a regular sporting event, alternating between Melbourne and Sydney, through to the 1890s. As the sport's popularity increased, handball clubs cropped up in Melbourne suburbs and country towns. Carlton established its own handball club in June 1882, under the patronage of John Curtain. Curtain, co-founder of the Carlton handball court, died in 1905. 11,12
The Loughrea Hotel at 75 Elgin Street was delicensed in 1919 and this also marked the end of the Carlton handball court. The owner, Victoria Brewery Pty Ltd, had no further business interest in a hotel without a liquor licence and it was sold in 1920. The handball court was converted into a brick factory facing Macarthur Place, then subdivided from the old hotel site in 1950. In 1970, the factory building at 22 to 24 Macarthur Place was bought by architect John Mockridge and was granted a new lease of life. The brick factory was gutted, an extra storey was added and a new residence was built within the shell of the old building. The original brickwork has been uncovered in recent years and evidence of its earlier function can be seen from the Macarthur Street frontage and side laneway. 13,14,15
For more information on sport and recreation in Carlton, read our latest newsletter.
More information on John Curtain.
Tree Removal in Canning Street North Carlton
A Silent Protest
Notes and References:
1 Arboricultural Assessment. Location: Canning Street and Drummond Street Carlton North. Ref.: 2145.AA.3, 16 February 2016
2 Gippsland Times, 8 February 1937, p. 3
3 The Age, 24 February 1937, p. 12
The Poplars of Canning Street
Carlton is blessed with many street trees, the most notable plantings being in Canning, Drummond and Rathdowne Streets. The poplar trees in Canning Street, North Carlton, were planted in the median strip over fifty years ago and are now reaching the end of their lifespan. In November 2015, two large trees came down near the North Carlton Primary School and crashed onto parked cars. Fortunately there were no injuries, but there was significant property damage and the risk of future tree incidents. As a result, City of Yarra commissioned a study to assess the condition of all poplar trees in Canning and Drummond Streets. The study recommended removal of selected trees in both streets and works commenced in June 2016. The median strip trees will be replaced with new plantings in spring 2016, thus continuing nature's cycle of growth, decline and renewal.1
Back in 1937, Carlton's attitude towards street trees was very different. The Melbourne City Council proposed a plantation in the centre of Rathdowne Street, as part of a tree planting scheme to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. The Council's ambitious scheme to plant a total of 5,000 trees within the municipality, at a cost of £20,000 over several years, met with strong resistance from the ratepayers of Victoria Ward. A door-to-door survey of shops and businesses in Rathdowne Street revealed 87 against and only 3 in favour of the proposed plantation. Anti-tree sentiment was running high, with some residents stating they would cut down any trees planted. The main reasons for objection were that a tree plantation would detract from the commercial appearance and character of the street, and would be a hindrance to vehicular traffic, which had increased since motor buses replaced the old cable trams in 1936. Business interests and traffic ruled in 1937 and the plantation proposal was abandoned.2,3
Rathdowne Street had to wait another four decades for its plantation, implemented in almost opposite circumstances. The controversial eastern freeway opened in 1977, amidst protests from Council, local businesses and residents alike. Rathdowne Street had become a feeder road for the freeway, via Princes Street, and Council proposed a median strip to slow down traffic and improve local amenity. This proposal was successful and, decades later, the median strip of mature trees contributes to Rathdowne Street's unique character and continues to be an asset, rather than a hindrance, to local businesses and residents.
The Carlton episode of Tony Robinson's Time Walks was broadcast on ABC 1 on Friday 20 May 2016. Naturally he covers the Trades Hall and the Eight Hour Memorial. But if his points of focus are predictable, his treatment of them is not necessarily so.
Tony Does Carlton
The Exhibition Building? Check! But instead of dwelling on the architectural wonders, he describes the unpleasant state of the grounds in the early days and recounts a nineteenth century academic scrap over the palaeontology collection housed in the basement. Italians? Of course, but after we see a venerable espresso machine and hear Nino Borsari's son tell his father's story, a visit to Dorrit Street deftly combines the stories of Carlton's early Italian migrants, who arrived about 1890, the Viggianese street musicians, and that of Jean Lee, the last woman to be hanged in Australia. Her story is the only reference to the seamier side of Carlton's history, something of an imbalance perhaps. The program moves on to La Mama and an extended segment explores the flavour and political influence of one production from this long-running and hugely influential Carlton institution.
Inevitably in such a short program there are omissions. There is no coverage of the Jewish presence in Carlton. We see the grand terraces of Drummond Street, but learn nothing of their decline into boarding houses in the early twentieth century or of the gradual gentrification of Carlton as a whole from the 1970s.
There are two poignant letters in the military record of Sergeant John Justin Leichardt Katterns. Correspondence is common in soldiers' files but it almost always comes from, or is addressed to, the military authorities. The Katterns' letters are unusual because one was written by the soldier to his mother while he was serving in Egypt in 1915, the other by his mother to a friend in Carlton.
Letters from the Great War
Boo the Cat
420 Rathdowne Street North Carlton
The Cat in the Window
Rathdowne Street has a long tradition of shop cats, the most famous being "Pam Puss". Pam, a friendly tabby, was the resident cat at The Picture Box (now The Travelling Samovar) at 414 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton, until her death in the mid-1990s. When the comic book 101 Uses for a Dead Cat was published, Pam featured in a window display and the sight of a real cat curled up asleep amongst the books no doubt boosted sales. Her photograph appeared in the magazine New Idea, though unfortunately they got her name wrong - such is the price of celebrity.1
In 2016, Rathdowne Street has a new shop cat named "Boo" at no. 420, just a few doors north of Pam's old home. Boo is often seen basking in the afternoon sun in the display window of Wowowa, an architecture and interiors business. From his vantage point, Boo keeps an eye on the passing pedestrian traffic, both human and animal. He sometimes visits the optometrist Eyes on Rathdowne next door (no. 422) to check out his feline neighbours, "Pusslldo" and "Littlepuss", two lovely Tonkinese cats.
1 101 uses for a dead cat, by Simon Bond, was first published in 1981.
Image source: CCHG
This signage recalls an earlier era, when mixed bathing was a novelty.
Notes and References:
1 Carlton : a history, Melbourne University Press, 2004, p. 316
2 The Age, 21 February 1930, p. 12
3 The Age, 4 February 1930, p. 8
4 Barrier Miner, 7 February 1930, p. 1
5 Properties condemned under section 56 of the Housing Act 1958 (VPRS 1824)
The Carlton Baths celebrated its 100th birthday with a pool party on Saturday 13 February 2016. The baths were offically opened on 11 February 1916, with the original entrance via Victoria Place, a laneway running off Princes Street. In the early days, the pool water was not filtered or chlorinated, and was changed once a week. The introduction of mixed bathing at Carlton and North Melbourne Baths, approved by Melbourne City Council in October 1929, led to major improvements. Five houses in Rathdowne Street (nos. 240-248) were demolished to build a new entrance and changing facitities for both sexes. A filtration plant was installed, an important public health consideration when many houses in Carlton did not have bathrooms and local residents used the baths for personal bathing.1
100 Years of Bathing
The Carlton Baths were re-opened by Councillor H.G. Smith, chairman of the Baths Committee, on 20 February 1930, but had been in operation for several weeks beforehand. The Age of 4 February 1930 reported a spate of thefts at the Carlton Baths and one unfortunate man had his trousers stolen. In the same month, a major incident occurred during a heat wave when a crowd of 200 people - men, women and children - stormed the turnstiles and climbed over the 7 foot high iron gates to gain access to the cooling waters of the pool. The police were called in to restore order, and an estimated 1000 people entered the pool over the next few hours, with barely enough room for swimming.2,3,4
More recent improvements have seen the Carlton Baths transformed from a basic swimming pool into a sporting and recreational complex. In the early 1970s, five more houses (nos. 222-230 Rathdowne Street) were demolished to make way for expansion on the south side, and the site now occupies half the Rathdowne Street frontage between Neill and Princes Streets.5
Image source: CCHG
Former Confectionery Factory of S.T. Nunquam
413-415 Nicholson Street North Carlton
Notes and References:
1 Australian Architectural Index
2 Building occupancy information sourced from Sands & McDougall directory listings and Melbourne City Council rate books
3 Melbourne City Council building application plans and files, BA 2890, 1920 (VPRS 11200 and VPRS 11201)
4 Building ownership information sourced from land title records
5 Carlton, North Carlton & Princes Hill Conservation Study, 1984
6 Biographical information sourced from birth, death and marriage records
7 City of Yarra, Planning application no. 991221, 1999
For many decades, residents of North Carlton woke to the smell of peppermint emanating from a confectionery factory in Nicholson Street. The two-storey, red brick building on the corner of Newry Street was built by T.E. Mathews for Stanislav Techitch Nunquam, manufacturing confectioner, 100 years ago in 1916.1
The Smell of Peppermint in the Morning
Nunquam's factory was not the first manufacturing facility to operate at the corner site. Russell & Sons, manufacturing confectioners, were there from 1909, and Johnston Brothers, furniture manufacturers, prior to that date. The earlier building was described as "brick factory and stabling" in council rate books. There were two cottages (nos. 417 and 419) on the northern boundary and these were later separately acquired for expansion of the business. In August 1920, a building application was lodged for a multitubular boiler and chimney stack, designed by C.S. Mears, a furnace builder of Tilson Street, Ascot Vale. The work was completed within two months, in the backyard of the cottage at 417 Nicholson Street.2,3
In 1955, when Stanislav Nunquam was 73 years old, ownership of the factory building and adjacent cottage (no. 417) was transferred from S.T. Nunquam Pty Ltd to Nunquam Pty Ltd. The change of business name can be seen in later photographs, with the lettering "S.T." painted out on the Nicholson Street façade. Stanislav died in 1966, aged 84 years, and his remains were cremated at Springvale Cemetery on 25 November 1966. His widow Nellie survived him by four years and died in Queensland in 1970.4,5,6
The confectionery business that bore Nunquam's name continued for another three decades. The second cottage (no. 419) was acquired by Nunquam Pty Ltd in 1978 and the company owned all the land between Newry Street and the laneway to the north. With the downturn in manufacturing in the 1990s, conversion of inner city factory buildings to residential apartments proved to be a lucrative business. The land was sold in 1999 and a planning application for construction of six warehouse dwellings was lodged with City of Yarra in September 1999. The cottages were demolished in 2000 and replaced with modern structures, but the external appearance of the brick factory building remained largely unchanged. The old copper pots have ceased boiling and the fine dusting of powdered sugar that was often seen on the upstairs window ledge has long since gone. The tall chimney, built in 1920, remains as a visual memory of North Carlton's industrial history.
More information on Stanislav Techitch Nunquam, the man whose surname means "never".
Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre
251 Faraday Street Carlton
It might seem strange to find a story about a travel diary written by a Russian in 1903 on a Carlton local history website. However, it sheds light on a small part of our history. The travel diary of 34 year old Aleksandr Leonidovich Yashchenko records the impressions of a Russian educationist and natural scientist who visited Australia for 3 months in 1903. He landed in Fremantle on the 2nd of July 1903 and sailed for Canada in October of that year. He visited places in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and travelled by coach, train and tram, and ferry on the Murray River, as well as on foot.
A Russian Visitor
Aleksandr Leonidovich Yashchenko
The main objects of his attention were the provision of education, the native flora and fauna, and the indigenous people with whom he spent some time observing football, spear and boomerang throwing and other aboriginal displays. He met local dignitaries, like Frank Tate, the Director of Education, John Smyth, the Principal of Melbourne Teachers' College, the Russian Consul, Mikhaylovich Ustinov, various Protectors of Aborigines, as well as numbers of people who were born, or had made their home in Australia, as well as local indigenous people and those whose job was to protect them. He was generally very well received.
The whole diary is available in the Special Collections section of the Baillieu Library at Melbourne University and makes interesting reading. This short piece centres on part of Yashchenko's visit to Melbourne, time spent at what appears to be the Faraday Street School (SS 112) in Carlton, the home of the first practising school in 1880 and associated with every branch of teacher training until its closure in December 1972.
More information on Yashchenko's travel diary
The artist Des Norman, who died on 13 September 2015, grew up in a small street in Carlton, where everyone knew each other by name. But there was one man who remained a mystery to most of the residents of Dorrit Street. As painted by Des Norman, the mystery man appeared well dressed in an overcoat and bowler hat, he was slightly stooped and he walked with a stick. Des recalled that the man lived on the east side of Dorrit Street, towards Grattan Street, and he thought that he was an exile from his homeland.
The Mystery Man of Dorrit Street
Des Norman's painting has inspired a line of research to discover the identity of the mystery man. The story begins with his birth in France, followed by migration to New Caledonia, then across the sea to Sydney, overland to the goldfields of Kalgoorlie, by ship again to Launceston in Tasmania and finally to Dorrit Street in Carlton. Along the way, the mystery man works as a cook and café proprietor, he is involved in crime (both as victim and alleged perpetrator), he gets married (at least twice) and divorced, and he ends up buried in an unmarked grave in Melbourne General Cemetery.
Find out more about the Mystery Man of Dorrit Street
At a time when the nation's biggest convenience store chain is being cast as 'rorting wages of its workers' it is worth noting that the history of one of the world's earliest trade union buildings is in Carlton, on the fringe of the central city, originally solely financed and built by the workers to serve as a place for the labour movement. This article centres on the role of the Trades Hall in Carlton and its connection with the fight for regulated working conditions, particularly the Eight Hour Day. It was originally built in timber, after a successful union campaign in 1856, and was largely replaced by a two storey building with an imposing classical façade, bluestone foundations and brick walls with a cement render finish in the 1870s.
The Trades Hall
Part of Our History
Often we think of the World War 1 serviceman as young, single and eager for adventure. But many did not fit this stereotype. Read the story of John Lelean Cope, 48 years old, who left behind his wife and adult daughters in "The Manse" in Princes Street, North Carlton when he sailed for Gallipoli late in 1915.
A Chaplain at War
As we currently commemorate Australia's participation in wars, we need to see what role women played. Women are part of all societies, but when those societies are under stress the roles that women traditionally play can be either reinforced, questioned or even changed, temporarily or forever, and undoubtedly a state of war places a society under stress. So what happens in one town or suburb can be replicated in another. Both of the women cited as case studies in this article had some connection with Carlton and are therefore important to CCHG, but both also made significant contributions to many areas of Victoria.
Women and War : Two Case Studies
Des Norman in his studio in 2012
It is with deep regret that the Carlton Community History Group notes the death of Des Norman, on 13 September 2015, and sends condolences to his thoughtful wife Stella, and other family members, including their daughter Ruth, who brought Des's work to our attention. He will be sadly missed.
Vale Des Norman
CCHG got to know Des in the process of working on his book of paintings, which we published as Through the Eyes of a Child : A Street in Carlton, 1939-45. He was extremely generous and the more contact we had, the more we valued his insights.
His was an unusual approach to our local history and offered a unique glimpse at what it was like to live through the war years in Dorrit Street, Carlton and attend the Faraday Street school, now the Kathleen Syme Centre. That selection of his paintings throws light on his experiences as a boy, living in a small house, whose bedroom was the narrow front verandah, with only a canvas blind between him and the street. A street where he and his friends went to school and played together, or observed the adults of many cultures he knew or saw, going about their lives, in war-time Carlton. It is an extraordinary and extremely valuable record.
This book is only a part of Des Norman's enormous contribution to art, from early works on Daisy Bates, a collection portraying the battlefields of Gallipoli and a resurrection series, to other major exhibitions, restoration work, commissions and illustrations. As a fellow staff member of the Melbourne Church of England Grammar School said, his work 'encapsulates honesty and sensitivity' in presenting images which 'can be sensually poignant and at the same time, disturbingly evocative'.
Des Norman was farewelled by family and friends on Wednesday 23 September 2015 and he now lies resting in Kangaroo Ground Cemetery. The date was specially chosen by Stella, as it would have been their 65th wedding anniversary.
The Mystery Man of Dorrit Street
Giacomo and Gina Basso in their shop in 2012
The Carlton Community History Group has previously demonstrated its admiration for the persistence and hard work of Giacomo and Gina Basso and we registered our condolences on the death of Giacomo in September last year. Speaking to Gina just recently it is clear that, despite missing her husband badly, her determination and strength of character remain undiminished.
Gina Basso : A Film Star at 83?
Gina continues to work in the tailoring business she and Giacomo set up so many years ago but now she works on alterations mainly by herself, although her grand daughter spends a couple of hours a week working with her. She explains, "It's a bit hard", but she has to pay the bills. Work also helps her maintain her English. Her son calls in about three times a week to ensure she is alright and has successfully negotiated the 18 steps she walks up and down every day to reach the rooms on the second floor of the dwelling. She still enjoys cooking for him and other members of the family, like her grand daughter who, when she was only 14, painted a splendid portrait of Giacomo. However, as Gina says "Age makes things difficult. It's as if there is no future. Life is not for you." Nevertheless she keeps going, although living by herself means it is difficult having no one to mull over things which happen every day or sort out problems.
Gina is about to have another birthday and she has just been approached by a film company wanting to make a film about her house and the business. As she continues to maintain her charm and good looks, and knowing the complexity of her history, and how versatile she has proved herself, it seems very likely she could be a film star at 83.
CCHG wishes Gina well, is proud to know her and looks forward to the film adding to our record of local history.
Lygon Court lies in the heart of Carlton's restaurant and shopping precinct - the place to meet for coffee & cake at Brunetti, see a movie at the Nova or do the weekly supermarket shopping at Woolies. The shopping centre, which occupies a block between Lygon and Drummond streets, was built in the 1980s, amidst protests about the loss of heritage buildings and inevitable change to Carlton's character. The Drummond Street frontage was once home to Freeman's Livery Stables and the Paramount Pram Factory, which in turn gave its name "The Pram Factory" to an innovative theatre group that later occupied the site.
Horses, Prams and Plays
Horses, prams and plays make an interesting combination. Read the story here.
Magnificent men in Flying Machines
Digital Image: State Library of Victoria
Artist's Impression of Queen's Coffee Palace
Corner of Rathdowne and Victoria Streets Carlton
In August 2015 CCHG received a request for help in tracing the provenance of an 1827 French edition of the New Testament. An inscription on the inner cover suggests that it was acquired by Otto Jung in 1852. Inside the book, where presumably it has been for a century, is a used and opened envelope posted from Lorne and sent to Otto Jung at 1 Rathdown Street, Carlton. This was the address of the very grand Queen's Coffee Palace, begun in 1888 but because of the financial collapse never finished as intended. On the back of the envelope is a message in French, dated 1915. Not all of it is legible but the gist is very clear. Jung is making a gift of the book to "my beloved Paggie ... the only one in the Laver families (except her brother Lol) to have studied French" and recommends that she and her brother should read it from time to time.
Otto Jung's Bible
German-born Otto Jung arrived in Victoria in 1853 as a young man of 23 - presumably his French New Testament, acquired in the previous year, travelled with him. He settled in Castlemaine where he became a close friend of the Laver family, who were farmers at Chinaman's Creek. When Jonas Laver died in 1880 leaving a family of seven sons, Jung, now a wealthy man, took the younger boys under his wing. William Adolphus, the fourth son, was a talented violinist and when a visiting German musician heard him play as a teenager he offered him training in Europe. In 1883 William and his mother Mary Ann travelled to Frankfurt with her two youngest boys. It is thought that Otto Jung accompanied them. In 1885 or 1886 Mary Ann died, but with Jung's support the three young Lavers stayed on. One son, Rudolph, remained permanently in Germany but in 1893 Jung continued his support for this family by helping the youngest boy, Ralph, establish a successful preserving factory in Collingwood.
William returned in 1889 in order to lobby for appointment to the Chair of Music, about to be set up at the University of Melbourne. He was not successful but became a private piano teacher and in 1895 oversaw the establishment of the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music, initially located in the Queen's Coffee Palace. Otto Jung paid the rent for the first term. William married in 1894 and four children were born over the next five years. Lol (Laurence Otto) was the oldest and Paggie (Violet Agnes) the only daughter. Jung may already have been living at the Coffee Palace in 1895. Certainly it is his address on the electoral rolls from 1903 onwards. When he wrote his note to Paggie in 1915 she was 19 years old, Lol was 20 and their father's long-time supporter was 85. In the same year William Adolphus Laver achieved his ambition and became the third Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne. Otto Jung died in 1916. An interesting detail is that death notices in the Age and Argus recorded only his name, age and residence in the "Queen's Buildings". There is no reference to the Laver family to whom he had been so good a friend over so many years, or to anyone else.
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