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.
Carlton Girls, Ten Years On
Ten years ago, in 2010, Margaret Rich conducted a series of interviews with Carlton resident Ruth Bailey (née Blackburn). Ruth's childhood home was a stone's throw from the Carlton Gardens. Born in 1941, she had an Anglo-Australian home life typical of the times while revelling in the cultural mix provided by her primary school, a mix ranging from newly-arrived Jewish refugees to established Chinese families from Little Bourke Street. Far from experiencing the helicopter parenting of today, she roamed freely around Carlton and into the city. Later, now Ruth Bailey, she moved into the Palmerston Street house which had been her grandparents' home and where she was to live for the rest of her life. As a young mother she sat on the veranda while bulldozers consumed the adjacent "slums", an area of historic streets, shops, pubs and terrace housing deemed no longer fit for human habitation, in order to replace them with high rise flats.
Ruth died in December 2013 and her recollections were published in booklet form in the following year. The text has now been reformatted and published as a book, augmented with additional photos.
Available for $15 (plus postage if applicable) by mail order from CCHG. Visit the publications page for more information.
Monkey Business in Carlton
What would you do if a couple of monkeys walked into your house? This happened to Mr Wilson of Arnold Street, Princes Hill, on a Sunday morning in January 1953. He thought he had the situation under control when he locked the intruders in his bathroom. However, he did not count on the monkeys' agility and ingenuity to extricate themselves from a tricky situation. The monkeys – a mother and son – spent several hours on the run before being re-captured.
OUTING FOR MRS. & MASTER MONKEY
Two monkeys, mother and son, embarked on a lively Sunday outing when the opportunity presented itself yesterday morning. And they provided much entertainment for many North Carlton residents who tried to catch them during their eight hours of freedom. The monkeys, owned by Briggs Carnival Caterers, escaped from a house in Arnold-street, North Carlton, where they were staying for the weekend. Soon afterwards they walked into Mr. B. Wilson's house, also in Arnold-street. Mr. Wilson led them into the bathroom and promptly locked the door, but he had forgotten the open window and the monkeys were soon free, again. Learning that social visits could be dangerous they subsequently kept more than a tail's length away from their would-be captors. Prompted, however, by the pangs of hunger, they espied some tempting food in the home of Mrs. W. Cook, of Garton-street, North Carlton. Unfortunately for them, it was in a cage. When the monkeys were safely inside Mrs. Cook pulled a string and their Sunday outing was over.
The Age, 19 January 1953, p. 3
Jitterbugging in Carlton
On a warm summer's day in January 1957, a dancing couple broke their own record for non-stop jitterbugging, then got into trouble with the police. But it was all in a good cause to raise money for the Royal Children's Hospital.
POLICE STOP A MARATHON 'ROCK'
Melbourne shoppers stared yesterday as Victorian jitterbug champions of 1955, Ted Mailes, 27, and Eva Bilton, 17, rocked 'n' rolled into town – and won a £5 bet. A friend, Ray Douglas, of North Carlton, had dared them to "hot foot it" to the Esquire Theatre, Bourke street. They accepted the challenge on the condition that the £5 was to be paid to the Royal Children's Hospital. For three miles, from Station st., North Carlton, to the city, Eva, a shoe finisher, of Rae st., Fitzroy, and Ted, a truck driver, of Station st., North Carlton, rocked 'n' rolled as the picture above shows. A panel van playing records through an amplifier followed them.
As they danced bare-headed in the burning midday sun, friends who followed offered them refreshments. But Ted and Eva shook their heads and called, "We're fit, fit, fit – sweet, sweet, sweet." Skirt whirling around her ears, Eva gurgled with glee as Ted swung her over his shoulder as they approached Lygon st. But at the corner of Swanston and Lonsdale sts., a block before their destination, they were "booked" by a policeman for "obstructing the traffic." Ted and Eva still won their bet and broke their jitterbug record – they jitterbugged for one-and-a-quarter hours non-stop.
The Argus, 11 January 1957, p. 5
Jitterbug dancing originated in the United States in the 1930s and its popularity spread with the deployment of American service personnel to Europe, Asia and the Pacific during World War 2. By the 1950s, the dance craze was in full swing, so to speak, though its sometimes frenetic movements and acrobatic stunts were frowned upon by moral guardians at the time. Then again, the waltz was considered scandalous when it was first introduced to polite society, and it went on to become the mainstay of modern ballroom dancing.
150 Years of Health Care for Children
Image: State Library of Victoria
The Children's Hospital, Carlton, circa. 1900
The Royal Children's Hospital in Parkville celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020. It all began in 1870, when medical authorities and concerned citizens recognised the need for a hospital dedicated to the care of sick children. The infant mortality rate was particularly high in inner city areas and many low income families could not afford to pay for private medical and nursing care. The "Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children" was established in 1870 in Stephen (later Exhibition) Street in the city. Newspaper advertisements published in The Age in October 1870 invited readers to subscribe the amount of one guinea (one pound and one shilling) to fund the hospital. The Carlton branch of the London Chartered Bank, on the corner of Elgin and Drummond streets, was one of the businesses nominated to receive subscription payments.
THE MELBOURNE FREE HOSPITAL FOR SICK CHILDREN
39 Stephen-street South.
President: His Honor Judge Pohlman.
Consulting Medical Officers: Physician, Dr. Motherwell; Surgeon, Professor Halford.
Attending Medical Officers: Physician, Dr. Singleton; Surgeon, Dr. William Smith.
The Institution, which is under the management of a committee of ladies,
is open for out-patients on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, at 12 o'clock.
Subscribers of One Guinea are entitled to receive five letters of recommendation.
Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Treasurer, M. Buckley, Esq. (Buckley and Nunn),
and by the London Chartered Bank, Collins-street and Carlton.
The Age, 6 October 1870, p. 1
Two years later, in 1872, the original six bed hospital moved to larger premises in Spring Street and was renamed the "Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children". With increasing demand for health care services, the hospital needed adequate longer-term accommodation. In May 1872, an application was made for a grant of land as a permanent home for the hospital. However, the only land available at the time was in Sydney Road, which was considered too far out of the city for patients and staff alike.
An application was made yesterday on behalf of the Hospital for Sick Children for a grant of land as a site for an hospital. The President of the Board of Land and Works was not present, but the deputation which consisted of Mrs. Bromby, Miss Bromby, Mrs. Hugh John Chambers, and Mrs. Halford, accompanied by Mr. James (surgeon) and Mr. MacBain, M.L.A.– was received by the assistant-commissioner. The only eligible piece of ground which Mr. Hodgkinson could point out abutted on the Sydney-road, and adjoined the old show-yards of the Port Phillip Farmers' Society. The deputation would have been better satisfied with a site on the Eastern-hill, or near the centre of the city, inasmuch as they wished that the hospital should be erected in a locality which could be easily reached both by managers and by patients; but when they ascertained that every other available site was gone they said that they would take the piece Mr. Hodgkinson had indicated. The assistant-commissioner undertook to represent the case favourably to the Minister of Lands. The extent of the ground was stated to be one acre ; it is a valuable piece of land.
The Argus, 16 May 1872, p. 14
The accommodation solution presented itself in 1876, when Sir Redmond Barry sold his substantial house in Carlton. The new Hospital for Sick Children was formally opened in September 1876 and described in glowing terms in the Annual Report for that year.
The property contains altogether an acre of ground, and has extensive frontages to Rathdowne, Drummond and Pelham streets, the last mentioned of which the principal entrance faces. The grounds contain a well-arranged flower, fruit and vegetable garden, which now presents a very pretty and attractive appearance, and will greatly add to the comfort of the children. The building which is of one story, contains four wards affording accommodation for 50 in-patients. The wards are lofty and well lighted, and appear very comfortable. Their ventilation is thoroughly provided for by the introduction of Tobin's system, and the windows being almost level with the ground, allow a view of the garden. The wards lead from a large central room, which was used by Sir Redmond Barry as a billiard room, but which will now form the children's dining room. The surgeon's private room is at the left of the entrance hall, and other apartments are provided for the matron and nurses, and an excellent bathroom and lavatory for the patients.
In order that cases of accident to children may be received at any time, a casualty ward has been fitted up. Adjoining the main building another smaller structure has been erected for the accommodation of external patients, containing a large room lit from the roof, where the out patients can be attended to. Near this is situated the board-room for the meetings of the committee, while a well appointed dispensary and surgeon's room are close at hand. A washhouse has been formed from the buildings formerly used by Sir Redmond Barry as stables. Altogether the arrangements of the hospital are excellent as regards accommodation and under good management the institution cannot fail to very largely increase its present sphere of usefulness.
The Argus, 28 September 1876, p. 7
Carlton was home to the Children's Hospital (known as the Royal Children's Hospital from 1953) for 86 years, when it moved to a new purpose-built hospital in Parkville in January 1962. The ten acre site had been granted as early as 1948, but construction was delayed for some years due to lack of Government funding. In more recent times, the hospital has been completely rebuilt as a new state-of-the-art medical facility, opened in 2011.
More information: RCH 150
Where have all the flowers gone?
Median Strip Flower Garden in Canning Street, North Carlton, in April 2020
For the past few years, North Carlton residents have enjoyed a colourful display of flowers surrounding the recently planted oak trees in the Canning Street median strip. Alas, this has come to an end. The flower gardens were planted without Council approval and were thought to be depriving the young trees of nutrients essential to their healthy growth. The flowering plants were removed by Council staff in late April 2020. The oak trees underwent an intensive feeding regime during winter and spring, and new street trees have been planted along the North Carlton length of Canning Street.
The Canning Street median strip was originally created in the 1930s, with plantings of palm and poplar trees. Into the 21st century, many of the poplar trees were in poor condition and had to be removed for safety reasons. The replacement oak trees were planted in the spring of 2016 and, in the coming spring of 2020, will hopefully be showing healthy signs of new growth.
Related item: The Poplars of Canning Street
Graffiti with a Conscience
Tagging in Richardson Street North Carlton
In recent years, many historic Carlton buildings – both private residences and business premises – have been defaced with unattractive graffiti and tagging. Back in the 1980s, graffiti was not just a medium of self (or selfish) expression. It was also used to communicate social, political and public health messages. B.U.G.A.U.P. (Billboard Utilising Graffitists Against Unhealthy Promotions) was formed in Sydney in late 1979 and soon became active in Carlton and other inner city suburbs of Melbourne. The movement raised the ire of the tobacco, alcohol and advertising industries, resulting in prosecutions.
Two such cases were heard in Carlton Court in 1980. In February Dr Josephine Kavanagh, a radiologist at Royal Melbourne Hospital and anti-smoking campaigner, was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond and ordered to pay $125 compensation to the Pacific Outdoor Advertising Company for painting slogans on a cigarette advertising billboard. Six months later, in August 1980 two young women – a medical student and speech therapist – appeared in Carlton Court to face charges for wilful damage in defacing a cigarette advertising poster. The hearing attracted a group of about 30 anti-cigarette advertising protesters, who demonstrated outside the court in support of the women. The case was rescheduled to the Melbourne Magistrates Court and the women were placed on 12-month good behaviour bonds and ordered to pay $106.90 each in costs.
2 The Canberra Times, 14 February 1980, p. 10
3 The Age, 20 August 1980, p. 6
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.
Nicholson Street Tram Track Upgrade
Tram Track removal in Nicholson Street, North Carlton, January 2020
The Nicholson Street tram route, which services both Carlton and North Carlton, had a major upgrade in January 2020, with the installation of accessible tram stops for the entire length of the street. The final stage of the project involved removing and replacing the tram tracks between Princes Street and Brunswick Road, to join up with the previously upgraded Carlton and Brunswick sections. Nicholson Street residents had to endure noise, dust and inconvenience during the project, but they have been promised an improved tram service, with better and safer access to tram stops.
The Nicholson Street tram route was originally opened as a cable tram service in August 1887. The cable winding house, which still exists, was located on the corner of Nicholson and Gertrude Streets, opposite the Carlton Gardens. The tram sheds, now home to the bus company Transdev, were located in Nicholson street, North Fitzroy, near Park Street. Melbourne's cable tram service was gradually run down from the 1920s and the Nicholson Street route was replaced by buses in October 1940. Electric powered tram services were re-instated in Nicholson street in April 1956 and have continued to serve local residents and businesses for over six decades.
For more information on trams, go to the Travelling in Carlton page.
Gastronomia Dal 1953
The recent auction of the Enoteca Sileno at the southern end of Amess Street, North Carlton, breaks one more link with the heyday of Italian Carlton in the 1950s and 1960s, but at the same time highlights the way in which so many different aspects of Italian culture have been adapted to, and merged with, the Australian mainstream. Amess Street has always been mostly residential but this double-fronted building at nos. 21-3 is an exception.
As early as 1897 it appears in Sands & McDougall's business directory as Condon's woodyard, conveniently situated with lanes beside and behind it. Within a few years it had become Condon's dairy and remained so for almost fifty years. No cardboard cartons or glass bottles then. Milk was bought as required and carried home, often by children, in a billy. Jack Ward, who as a child in the 1940s lived just round the corner in Fenwick Street, helped out at Condon's after school by rolling the milk cans up the bluestone lane. He was paid in milk. After 1947 the dairy changed its name several times. For a while it was called the Princes Park Dairy, which was where local cows were sent to graze, returning down Amess Street and entering no. 21 through its big front doors. They were milked at the back of the building where the two last rooms have a concrete floor and a slope to facilitate washing down.
By the late 1950s the dairy had closed and the front room was rented by Italian migrant Luigi "Gino" Di Santo who arrived in Australia in 1952. With an extensive background in business and a long family history in wine and food he quickly saw the potential in Australia for Italian products. In 1953 he was the first Italian immigrant to have a stand at the Home Show in the Melbourne Exhibition Building displaying a Borletti portable sewing machine, Venetian glass from Murano and Italian cigars and cigarettes. The importing business quickly diversified into baby food, mineral water, preserved vegetables, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, wines and liqueurs, featuring goods in demand with the booming Italian population and previously unknown to Australians but soon to become popular.
As the business grew, Gino rented more and more of the space. It became a large-scale operation. His daughter Rosemary remembers that:
"We used to unload shipping containers, with our imports, which were diagonally parked on the road occupying more than half of the street with rollers sending down cartons into the building. These cartons were unloaded using conveyor rollers and ferried throughout the building on trolleys racing up and down the corridors into the appropriate storage spot. The containers were hand unloaded there for about 20 years. Before containers many shipments were brought to Australia in wooden crates."
21 Amess Street served other purposes as well. At one point newly-arrived Italian men were renting sleeping space at the back of the building and the dairy cool store was converted into a shower room. There was also a jam factory at the back of the building run by a Mrs Hoult. No. 23 was gradually incorporated into the main space, housing offices and providing additional storage. The facade had been renovated by the then owners, who also owned number no. 19, and who probably also added the concrete slab outside the front door; Ferdinando Busatta was a concreter by trade. The bluestone foundations of the original cast-iron fence can still be seen beneath the slab.
By the early 1980s the business was gradually changing its focus to more traditional artisan products and in 1982 Gino was able, as he had always wanted, to open a retail store, an enoteca or wine bar. His is thought to have been the first place in Australia to specialise in Italian wines and the first business to use the word enoteca in its name. Customers came from far and wide and many still remember the cluttered treasure house of goods it offered.
Gino had owned the building since 1986 but by 2004 Enoteca Sileno was ready for another major change, moving to a two storey corner building in Lygon Street, previously the Rising Sun Hotel, where today, under the proud banner Gastronomia dal 1953, it conducts wholesale and retail businesses with a wide range of Italian products as well as a cooking school. No. 21-23 Amess Street reverted to its original function as storage space until it was sold in October 2019. Many will be pleased that this historic building appears to have dodged the developer's bulldozer. The new owner intends to live there.
Information for this story has been sourced from the Enoteca Sileno website, with additional research by CCHG. The assistance of Rosemary Di Santo-Portelli is gratefully acknowledged.
An Echo From the Past
Digitised Image: CCHG
This postcard-sized advertisement for Echo Publishing Company Limited of North Fitzroy was discovered amongst some notebooks, meticulously handwritten by William Wilson of Drummond Street, Carlton. Mr Wilson was a student at the Education Department Training College in Grattan Street, Carlton, in the early 1900s. The advertisement served a dual purpose in promoting a book by American author Ellen G. White, and the verso could also be used as a blotter – a smart way of advertising in the days of pen and ink. Ellen G. White was one of the founders of the Seventh Day Adventist movement and her book was first published by the Pacific Press Publishing Association in 1903. This places the date of the advertisement between 1903 and October 1905, when the business name of the Echo Publishing Company Limited was changed to the Signs of the Times Publishing Association Limited. 1,2
The Echo Publishing Company Limited began as a small-scale religious publisher and printer on the corner of Rae and Scotchmer Streets, North Fitzroy, in 1886. The business expanded its operations to include commercial work, and moved to larger premises at 14-16 Best Street, North Fitzroy in 1889. The Company, run by the Seventh Day Adventists, reviewed its operations in the early 1900s and made the decision, based on its religious principles, to discontinue commercial work and leave the city. This was an early example of decentralisation and involved building a new state-of-the-art factory and housing for workers and their families in Warburton, then a small village east of Melbourne. The North Fitzroy factory was vacated in February 1907.3,4,5,6,7
William Wilson's notebooks and other documents were kindly donated to CCHG by the Yarra Ranges Regional Museum. The advertising blotter is now in the local history collection of the Fitzroy Library.
Notes and References:
1 Ellen G. White Writings Website
2 Victoria Government Gazette, 4 October 1905, p. 3
3 Business address information has been sourced from Sands & McDougall directories and newspaper advertisements.
4 The Age, 30 April 1889, p. 3
5 The Age, 13 May 1905, p. 15
6 Reporter (Box Hill), 20 April 1906, p. 5
7 Table Talk, 10 January 1907, p. 24
"No Parking" Sign in Canning Street, North Carlton
Iron Lacework, Cnr. Canning and Macpherson Streets, North Carlton
This sign on the median strip in Canning Street, North Carlton, states quite clearly:
Keep off the Grass
NO PARKING ON LAWN RESERVATION
But are parking officers from Melbourne City Council likely to cross the municipal boundary of Princes Street to issue an infringement notice? The sign, bearing the Melbourne City Council's name and coat of arms, is a relic of times past, when Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill were all part of the same municipality. North Carlton and Princes Hill were hived off from Melbourne City Council and joined the newly-created City of Yarra in the 1990s.
There are plenty of other reminders of Melbourne City Council to be found in North Carlton and Princes Hill. The coat of arms appears on the green street bollards and in the iron lacework of many shopfront verandahs. The images of fleece, bull, whale and sailing ship date back to 1843, when wool, tallow and oil were the chief exports of the colony (then part of New South Wales).
Next time you go for a walk along Canning Street, have a look the bollards and compare the coat of arms images with those on the "no parking" sign. The whale and sailing ship images have been relocated to the lower half, while the bull has been moved up to join the fleece on the upper half. The change was made in 1970 in order to have the land-based and water-based images placed, logically, on their respective levels. Why didn't someone think of that back in 1843?1
1 Melbourne Coat of Arms
Turning on the Waterworks at Carlton Gardens
Image: Punch, 31 December 1857, p. 6
Water Main Renewal Project
Canning Street, North Carlton, February 2020
Notes and References:
1 Melbourne Water website
2 Yan Yean : A history of Melbourne's early water supply, Tony Dingle and Helen Doyle, PROV, 2003
3 The Age, 24 December 1857, p. 4
4 The Argus, 1 January 1858, p. 5
5 The Age, 1 January 1858, p. 4
6 The Age, 5 January 1858, p. 4
7 Plan of Allotments at Carlton, North Melbourne, Parish of Jika Jika, Public Lands Office, 1859
8 The Argus, 26 November 1858, p. 5
9 City West Water website
Water security is a global issue and in Melbourne we are fortunate to have good quality drinking water available on tap. In the early days, the city's water supply was precarious, particularly during the summer months. Rainwater had to be collected, bores were sunk and water was pumped and carted from the Yarra River and other water courses. As the town's population grew, so did the demand for water and the only long term solution was to construct a reservoir to hold water and convey it via a system of pipes to the city. Yan Yean, north east of Melbourne, was chosen as a suitable site, with water drawn from the Plenty River. Construction took place over four years, commencing in December 1853, and it was a major engineering project for its time. The cast iron water pipes from the reservoir were laid through bushland to the outskirts of Melbourne, then followed the course of what later became St Georges Road to join Nicholson Street near Yorke (later Lee) Street and thence to the Carlton Gardens. 1,2
In December 1857, when the suburb of Carlton was just a few years old and North Carlton was yet to be created, the main valve was installed at the Carlton Gardens in readiness for the official opening of the Yan Yean Waterworks. As the hot days of summer arrived, the citizens of Melbourne eagerly awaited their new water supply, as announced by The Age on Christmas Eve:
It is understood that Melbourne is to be treated to something like a miniature deluge on the occasion of the opening of the Yan Yean waterworks, on the 31st of December. Jets d'eau are to be placed at every corner of every principal street ; but the great torrent is to issue in the vicinity of Carlton Gardens, under the auspices of His Excellency The Governor. The Melbourne Total Abstinence Society are to celebrate the event by a grand procession through the city.
In the same edition of the newspaper, The Age made a "glass half empty" comment that the stand pipes, which had previously supplied water to parts of the city, were to be removed "to induce the owners of property to lay the water on to their houses". This, as claimed by the The Age, had led to water carriers doubling their price from three to six shillings a load, and the burden of cost would fall on tenants. The Age concluded: "As it is, the completion of the Yan Yean water works instead of being a boon will prove a very great source of annoyance to most of the inhabitants of Melbourne." 3
The last day of 1857 dawned and by noon an estimated crowd of 7,000 had gathered at the Carlton Gardens. The Governor of Victoria, Henry Barkly, was unable to attend due to disposition, and the honour of opening the main valve went to Major-General Macarthur, the Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Forces in Australia. Other dignitaries included Dr. Greeves, President of the Water and Sewerage Commission, Bishop James Palmer, Premier William Haines, Mayor Thomas Smith, Justice Redmond Barry and engineer Matthew Bullock Jackson, who superintended the whole scheme. 4
The Argus reported the occasion in matter-of-fact detail, while The Age, one again, took a "glass half empty" approach. The reporter complained about the lack of accommodation for the press, and the poor organisation of the event and crowd control of the procession that followed through the city:
Immediately on the arrival of the head of the procession at the crossing of Elizabeth street and Flinders street, a desperate attempt was made to get the congregating masses into some kind of order. Sweltering policemen pushed and shoved about until they became almost apoplectic, and the choleric Dr Greeves fought desperately for room to work the lever with which he set the jet d'eau in play. The worthy Doctor kicked and spluttered, and snapped, and at last, with the aid of a herculean policeman, encouraged by the bland smile of his Worship the Mayor, elbow room was procured, and the jet d'eau was squirted into a carriage filled with ladies, who in their innocent confidence had driven up to get a sight of the first jet d'eau to be set in motion in the capital city of the Southern Hemisphere. In a moment they were drenched from head to foot. Their coachman was so nearly drowned that he was some minutes before he could move out of the range of the first jet of the Yan Yean. 5
A few days later, The Age acknowledged one positive outcome of the improved water pressure and reported that: "The Superintendent of the Melbourne Fire Brigade informs us that the nozzles of the delivery pipes have already been enlarged, so as to meet the great pressure of the Yan Yean waters." 6
A little-known consequence of the waterworks project was that the land bounded by Station, Nicholson, Elgin and Reilly (Princes) streets in Carlton was reserved from sale for use as a tramway terminus. Matthew Bullock Jackson proposed that the wooden tramway, built to aid pipe-laying from Yan Yean to the Carlton Gardens, could be converted into a locomotive railway line for carrying goods and passengers. This would open up Yan Yean and locations along the way to settlement and sightseeing traffic. It was a bold idea and no doubt Jackson had the engineering skill and ability to make it happen, but funding was lacking and the project never went ahead. The land was released for sale in 1863 and, as a result, the buildings on the east side of Station Street between Elgin and Reilly (Princes) streets were of later construction than those on the west side. 7,8
Fast forward to mid-2019 and the time has come to renew the water main servicing both Carlton and North Carlton. The existing water main running beneath Nicholson Street is 140 years old – not quite as old as the Yan Yean pipes – and is nearing the end of its operational life. The new – and larger diameter – water main is to be installed beneath Canning Street, from Faraday Street through to Park Street, and will involve tunnelling under the major intersections at Elgin and Princes streets. Apart from renewing the pipes, the water main has to be re-located as the new tram superstops in Nicholson Street will make it difficult to access the existing pipes for essential maintenance. Life was much simpler in the 1850s, when public utilities did not have to compete with each other for space. However, we do enjoy the health and benefits of modern living and clean water. 9
Corner of Amess and Richardson Streets, North Carlton
Note: MMBW detail plans are available online at the State Library of Victoria's website.
In the days before the advent of electricity, the streets of Carlton were illuminated with gas lighting. There were gas lamps on many street corners and several examples still remain, as truncated lamp post bases. The Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) detail plans, drawn up in the late 19th and early 20th century, include codes showing the location of gas lamps (G.L.) and electric light posts (E.L.P.). The two methods of illumination co-existed for a time, but electric lighting eventually took over and the gas lamps were decommissioned. The upper portions of the lamp posts were removed, leaving the decorative bases.
There are gas lamp bases at the following locations:
- Corner of Amess and Pigdon Streets, North Carlton ;
- Corner of Amess and Richardson Streets, North Carlton ;
- Corner of Canning and Fenwick Streets, North Carlton ;
- Corner of Canning and O'Grady Streets, North Carlton ;
- Corner of Lygon and Richardson Streets, North Carlton ;
- Corner of Nicholson and Pigdon Streets, North Carlton (Removed in October 2019) ;
- Corner of Lygon Street and Argyle Place, Carlton ;
- Corner of Rathdowne and Barkly Streets, Carlton ;
- Corner of Swanston and Pelham Streets, Carlton.
Corner of Nicholson and Pigdon Streets, North Carlton
The lamp post was made by "D. Niven and Co., Iron Founders, Collingwood".
The base was removed from the street corner in October 2019.
Little but Fierce
Shakespeare Street Mural
Have you see the new mural facing the mini park in Shakespeare Street, North Carlton? The text "Little but Fierce" is taken from William Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream and was suggested by a local resident. The full wording is: "And though she be but little, she is fierce". That Shakespeare Street is "little" there is no doubt. The street is narrow and runs for one block only, between Drummond and Lygon Streets. For the "fierce" side of Shakespeare Street, we need to look back in history.
Shakespeare Street was the scene of at least two shooting incidents, one fatal, in 1922 and 1944. The street was identified as a "slum pocket" by the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board in 1936-37. The people of Shakespeare Street had a battle on their hands in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Housing Commission of Victoria condemned five cottages on the south side (nos. 7 to 15 inclusive) as unfit for human habitation. The cottages were demolished in January 1970, leaving a vacant space ready for development. Without doubt, the fiercest battle fought in Shakespeare Street was in the 1970s, against the inappropriate building of a block of cluster flats on the south side of the street. Residents and other concerned citizens took action, at their own expense, by cleaning up the vacant site and creating a mini park for the benefit and enjoyment of the community. They bravely put their money where their mouth was, so to speak, and entered into an agreement with the City of Melbourne to buy the land. Decades later, the mini park and its new mural remain a tribute to the power of community action.
More information on Shakespeare Street
Shooting in Shakespeare Street
The Penny Dreadful
The Munster Arms
Princes Street is the dividing line between Carlton and North Carlton, and a major thoroughfare for east-west traffic. When the lights turn red at the Canning Street intersection, few travellers could fail to notice the distinctive Edwardian building on the south west corner. The Dan O'Connell Hotel 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
Image Source: The Advocate, 27 February 1915, p. 27
Architect A.A. Fritsch's drawing of St Joseph's Receiving Home extension, officially opened in February 1915.
The original 1890 building facade was replicated in the new wing, and a chapel was added on the western boundary.
The houses of the former Receiving Home are now numbered 103 and 105 Grattan Street, Carlton.
1 The Age Good Weekend, 22 April 2017, p. 22-24
2 Mackillop Family Services
3 Land ownership and occupancy information sourced from land title records and Melbourne City Council rate books
4 Australian Architectural Index
5 The Age, 13 May 1905, p. 12
6 The Advocate, 6 January 1906, p. 16
7 The Advocate, 27 February 1915, p. 27
8 Register of Demolitions, 1945-1975 (VPRS 17292)
9 Find & Connect : History & information about Australian orphanages, children's homes & other institutions
10 Births Australia (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3301.0)
11 Australian Social Trends (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 4102.0)
12 Building Application Index (VPRS 11202)
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