One Hundred Years Ago In Carlton

Carlton has always been newsworthy and here are snapshots of what was happening locally one hundred years ago.


October 1917

TO THE EDITOR OF THE AGE
Sir,- I earnestly beg you will grant me space to show the serious delay that occurs where returned soldiers are endeavoring to get settled on the land. I gave the only son available to fight for country and Empire. He is returned wounded, and useless for trade for which he was apprenticed. We spent much time in travelling, eventually finding a property at Hurstbridge. Orchard in full profit, the owner of which, through ill-health, desires to sell at a price £200 less than shire valuation. It is now seven weeks since all papers, duly signed, were placed in the hands of the department. Up to now nothing further has been heard. Private buyer wish for it, but from patriotic motives the owner desires to sell to returned soldier: but even patience has its limits. If private firm were selling, it would be settled in a week. If the 3 per cent who apply for improved property out of the few who have returned are to experience such slow methods, what will happen when war ceases and our boys come back in hundreds of thousands, apart from others who no doubt will leave the old home to settle on land? I am afraid the Angel Gabriel will sound the trumpet on the day of judgment before they are fixed up.
- Yours, &c.,
J. W. BUTLER.
301 Nicholson-street, Carlton, 23rd October.

The Age, 24 October, 1917, p.13
Soldier settlements schemes were in their infancy in 1917 but problems were already being encountered. There were many complaints like this one about lengthy bureaucratic processes, unsuitable land being bought and soldiers being offered previously unworked land which would require many years of labour before it produced a financial return.

John Butler's comments on his son's situation are restrained but the reality was quite stark. When he enlisted in January 1916, Ernest William Butler was 19 years and 8 months old and had been apprenticed as a cutter to a Bourke Street tailor for five years. He left Australia on RMS Malwa in March 1916 and joined his unit of the 24th battalion in France on 5 August of that year. His active service lasted less than a month. He was wounded on August 24, his injuries including damage to his right arm, and was almost immediately evacuated to hospital in England. In February 1917 he sailed on the Benalla, apparently for a home furlough, but was discharged medically unfit in Melbourne in June 1917.

Ernest Butler's name does not appear in soldier settlement records. Perhaps he was discouraged by the slow processes. A very small enterprise with returned soldiers hand weaving tweed fabric had just started operating in Carlton on the corner of Queensberry and Leicester Streets and it is possible that he found employment there. In any case, despite his father's comment, the electoral roll describes Ernest as a cutter in 1919 when he was still living in Nicholson Street and also throughout the 1920s after he married and had moved to Preston.1

1 Geelong Advertiser, 1 August 1917, p.2


September 1917

In September 1917 the Weekly Times reported on the annual meeting of the Victorian Association of Crèches.

"Carlton Crèche states that everything is satisfactory. Mothers benefited, 85; children's attendances, 3730. The committee has purchased a piece of land in Neil street, Carlton, to build a new crèche later on, as the present premises are unsuitable."

Weekly Times, 1 September 1917, p. 14
Crèches were relatively new at this time but did exist in some inner-city suburbs. This report highlights the speed and efficiency with which private philanthropy could act in the face of perceived need. In May 1913 The Age had reported on the formation of a "large and influential committee" to work for a proposed new Carlton crèche. "Though they have a number of donations in hand, with the promise of more, they are quite at a standstill, owing to being unable to obtain a suitable building and would be pleased to hear from anyone who may have a building to let or on lease suitable for creche purposes."1

By the following February, a good site had been found at 558 Lygon Street, an eight-roomed house (now demolished) just south of Princes Street. There was plenty of play space and the position on a bus route made the service available to East Brunswick mothers, as well as those living further south. By mid-year the Carlton crèche was open, charging 3 pence a day per child or sixpence for 3 but, as it was estimated to cost 9 or 10 pence a day to feed and care for each child, fundraising activities and requests for donations were constant. The committee had decided on an important innovation. "The existing crèches take only the children of women who go out to work, but the Carlton committee intends to make provision for receiving and caring for the children of women who are obliged to purchase their supplies in the markets and also for the children of women who may be attending any of the hospitals themselves as outpatients, or who may have a sick child to take to hospital." Users of this occasional service were to pay a penny an hour.2

By June 1916, after two years of operation, the committee had cleared all its debts including £900 for the land and building. Now its intention was to raise funds for new accommodation. As reported above, this goal had been reached by September 1917. The foundation stone was laid in June 1919 and the new crèche opened before the end of that year. It is believed to be the first purpose-built creche constructed in Melbourne and was to serve the mothers and babies of Carlton into the 21st century, when the building was converted to apartments.

1 The Age, 27 May, 1913, p. 12
2 The Argus, 1 July 1914, p. 6


August 1917

WOMAN'S STRANGE STORY.
THROWN OUT OF CAR BY DRIVER

A remarkable story of assault was told to the police on Thursday by a married woman named Dorothy Cantlon, who now lies in Melbourne Hospital with injuries to the head. According to the statement she made to the police, Mrs. Cantlon left her home at 528 Drummond-street, Carlton, about 2 p.m. yesterday to draw her pension at the orderly rooms. Near the Woolpack Hotel she met Mr. Shaw, a butcher, talking to a man seated in a motor car. Mr. Shaw, it is said, told his friend to drive Mrs. Cantlon wherever she wanted to go. The man drove her to several places, and finally they went to an hotel some distance from the city. On the return journey to Melbourne along Plenty-road, it is alleged, the driver suddenly turned to his companion and said, "Are you Mrs. Joe Cantlon?" And when she replied in the affirmative he added "I'll fix you up, because Joe Cantlon separated me from my wife." With that Mrs. Cantlon asserts that the man threw her out of the car, and she was rendered unconscious on striking the ground.

The next chapter of the story was supplied to the police by a cattle dealer named Edwin Lynch, of South Morang, who was yesterday droving some cattle along Plenty-road to the city. He noticed a man driving a car along the road at a very fast pace, and he called out to the driver to slacken speed. The car, however, struck one of the beasts, and then swerved into three others. Lynch spurred his horse and overtook the car and obtained the number. On inspecting the cattle, he saw a woman lying on the road, bleeding from a wound in the head. Lynch informed the Heidelberg police that he heard the woman, who gave the name of Mrs. Cantlon, say that she was struck on the head when she fell out of the car. The injured woman was admitted to Melbourne Hospital. An early arrest of the driver is probable.

Leader (Melbourne), 11 August 1917, p.38

The elephant in the room is, of course, the war, which had now been dragging on for a full three years. Dorothy Cantlon's husband Joe, although at 38 considerably older than most volunteers, had enlisted early and had embarked for the war zone by May 1915. When the incident reported here occurred he had been away for more than two years. A bit of company and a jaunt in a motor car, still something of a novelty in 1917, must have seemed attractive to his wife. Joe Cantlon had joined the Victoria Police at 21 in 1898 and became a detective in 1901. For more than a decade there are regular reports in the press of arrests he made and evidence he gave in court cases. Detective Cantlon was very well-known and his suspension from duty in March 1912 "created no little excitement in police circles". More than a dozen Victorian and interstate newspapers reported on the case; most referred to "a charge of a serious nature" but one was willing to specify that it related to "misconduct relating to a married woman". An inquiry was held immediately and Cantlon admitted the charge. His discharge from the service was recommended and he immediately resigned. Later that year he and a partner, also ex Victoria Police, were advertising their services as a private detective agency. The grievance of Dorothy Cantlon's driving companion may have been related to that work.1,2

1 The Sunday Times (Perth), 24 March 1912, p. 1
2 The Age, 26 June 1912, p. 12


July 1917

TAKEN FROM THE DEEP.
(From June number of the "10th Brigade News")

An Australian soldier has had the experience of wearing a pair of socks, knitted by a member of the North Carlton Presbyterian Knitting Club, after they had been at the bottom of the sea for several weeks. The members of the club have received a letter, dated 5th April, from Miss Mabel R. Bishop, of Weymouth, Dorset, England, in which she states that the vessel conveying the socks to England was torpedoed. All the men on board were saved, but the cargo went to the bottom of the sea. Her uncle, a British sailor, was assisting to salve the vessel, when he came across a pair of socks, with a note pinned to them, stating that they were knitted by the club. She sent them to an Australian soldier in the big Anzac camp at Wareham, England. They were none the worse the worse for their immersion. Miss Bishop has written the history of the socks for members of the club. It is understood that the whole of the cargo which was on the vessel has been salved, so that all the socks on board will have reached the soldiers.

Riverine Herald, 25 July 1917, p 4
A constant supply of clean, dry socks was essential for troops fighting in the muddy trenches of France, their only defence against the dreaded condition, trench foot. Thousands of Australian schoolchildren and women, working at home or in community groups coordinated by the Australian Comforts Fund, rose to the knitting challenge. Specialised pattern books were available and socks had to meet a strict standard. There was to be no seam which could rub against the soldier's skin and the socks had to be big enough to allow for shrinkage. The women of the North Carlton Presbyterian Church 1 would have been particularly aware of the need as their minister, the Reverend John Lelean Cope, had just returned from a period of service as a chaplain in France. During the course of World War 1 Australians knitted over 1 million pairs of socks as gifts for the troops. It has been estimated that, at 10 hours of work per pair, that would be an extraordinary 10 million hours of work. The Australian population then numbered less than five million.

1 This church, now demolished, was in Nicholson Street near the corner of Princes Street. The manse, in Princes Street, survives and today houses the Carlton Neighbourhood Learning Centre.


June 1917

CONSTABLE AND MOTORIST
UNWILLING JOY RIDER

"When plainclothes Constable I.G. Stock mounted the footboard of a motor car driven by Martin John Shelley in Toorak Road on May 26 he counted on dismounting in a few moments, he told the Prahran Court yesterday. But instead he was carried to Carlton. Stock said he was an unwilling joy-rider. He simply mounted the footboard to obtain Shelley's name. For having refused to give his name and address to the police after an accident on Toorak road, Shelley was fined £7 10s, with 1 shilling costs. The costs represented the money which Stock expended in tram fares on his return from Carlton to Toorak road.

Mr. E. Notley Moore, P.M., said that Shelley's conduct had been impertinent, aggressive and illegal. According to the evidence a collision occurred between the car driven by Shelley and a car driven by Dr. Julian Smith. Stock and Constable A.C. Rice were on duty nearby watching for offenders against the motor laws. Constable Rice told the court that after the collision he said to Shelley,"I am a police constable. I want your name." He produced his badge. Shelley did not answer, but said to R.L. Connard, one of his passengers, "Crank her up." Witness prevented Connard from starting the engine. Connard replied, "You can take the number of the car. I know who you are." Shelley said again, "Crank her up." Witness again prevented Connard from starting the engine, and asked Connard his name. Shelley said to Connard, "He cannot put his hands on you." Connard then cranked the car, which almost knocked witness down. Witness jumped aside and pulled Connard with him. The mudguard of the car hit him. The car stopped after travelling a few yards. Witness said to Shelley, "What is your name?" Shelley did not reply, nor did not take any notice (sic). Witness said to Stock "I think this man is drunk." Shelley then drove away, and Stock jumped on to the footboard of the car, which was running from one side of the road to the other. The registered owner of the car was Charles Dopkins, of Drummond St., North Carlton.

Describing his unlooked-for ride, Stock said that Shelley drove up Toorak road at a fast pace, swerving all over the road. Witness directed Shelley to pull up at the St. Kilda Road police station. Shelley made no reply. He drove down Walsh Street, South Yarra, then into Domain Road, up Anderson Street, across the bridge, back to Punt Road, through Richmond, and then through a number of other streets. Finally he stopped the car at his back gate in Rathdown Street, Carlton. It was then 5.53 p.m. Witness had jumped on the car soon after 5.30 p.m. In the course of the drive Shelley said to him, "Get into the car. You will be more comfortable." Witness asked Shelley to give his name.

On arriving at his back gate, Shelley said to two men who were sitting in the back of the car, "I want you as witnesses. This man (pointing to Stock) said I was drunk. I am going to sue him for defamation of character." Shelley, who said he was a motor mechanic, told the court that he was guilty under provocation. The constables had no right to say he was drunk. He gave up his Saturday afternoons to driving sick soldiers about. When the collision occurred he was returning from the Caulfield hospital.

For having obstructed Constable A.C. Rice in the execution of his duty, Richie Lindsay Connard was fined £1. Mr. Moore (to Connard) Had you been drinking? Connard: No. Mr. Moore: I cannot understand your conduct. You ought to be ashamed of yourself. A charge against Shelley of having driven a motor-car at a speed dangerous to the public was dismissed."

The Bendigo Independent, 15 June 1917, p 7
Dunlop tyres signage
Image: CCHG
Signage uncovered during demolition of Martin Shelley's former garage at 520-522 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton

Martin John Shelley

Martin Shelley was no young tearaway. When this escapade occurred he had been running his cycle-building business in Rathdowne Street for some twelve years. The back gate where his unwilling passenger finished his ride was at no. 430, close to Fenwick Street and today the Feathered Bower. As his business grew, he had moved to that building in 1911 from a smaller shop in the same block.

By 1921 he was to move again, this time to no. 520-522, a custom-built workshop and garage on one of the few remaining double blocks of vacant land in that part of Rathdowne Street. He traded there until 1940 when the building, with only minimal alterations, became Pullars Dry Cleaners. In this form it survived until 2013 when it was demolished to make way for an apartment block. At this time traces of Martin Shelley's garage were still clearly visible in the building.

More information on the development of 520-522 Rathdowne Street.


May 1917

Funerals were big occasions 100 years ago and the final journey of James Denham, chief inspector of the Melbourne Tramway Board, was accompanied by 900 tram gripman and conductors in uniform. The questions remains: With so many staff attending the funeral, did Melbourne's tramway system grind to a halt?

Memorial to James Denham
Image: CCHG
Memorial to James Denham in Melbourne General Cemetery
"This Memorial was Erected by his Late Fellow Employees of the Tramway Board"
"The funeral of the late Mr. James Denham, chief inspector of the Melbourne Tramway Board, yesterday morning was a striking testimony of the affectionate regard in which he was held, not only by everybody connected with the tramway undertaking, but also by citizens in every walk of life. The cortege, which left his residence, 'Allandale,' Amess-street, North Carlton, at 10.30 a.m., was over a mile long. It was headed by the Tramway Band, playing the Dead March, about 900 gripmen and conductors in uniform, about 70 other employes [sic] in plain clothes, and about 30 members of the police force in uniform. Following the hearse, laden with flowers and containing a polished oak coffin enclosing the remains, was a floral car and a long line of motor cars and other vehicles.

All the members of the Tramway Board were present, and other bodies represented were the Melbourne Benevolent Asylum committee, Heatherton Sanatorium committee, Victoria Bowling Club, Caledonian Society, Victorian Football League, Tramways Mutual Benefit Society, Railway department, Victorian Bowling Association, Victorian Naval and Military Lodge (Masonic), V.R.C. committee, Australian Tramway Employees' Association, Overseas Club and Lodge of Concord. The pallbearers were Messrs. A.E. Laver, J. Ellis, E Hart, J.G. Currie, E.L. Wilson, J.G. Roberts and J.V. O'Connor. After the burial service, Rev. H. Balcke, Presbyterian church, said the large concourse around the grave afforded strong evidence of the esteem and affection in which the deceased was held by all who knew him, especially by the employes, of the Tramway Board, who always had in him an officer who was sympathetic and just in his dealings with them."

The Age, 21 May 1917, p.8

Note: 'Allandale' was at 272 Amess Street, North Carlton.


Elizabeth Livingston (aka Madame Zephy), a fortune teller of Drummond Street, North Carlton, failed to foresee that the woman who came to consult her was, in fact, a police agent gathering evidence for her arrest and conviction.

THE 'FORTUNE TELLERS' SUBTLE CRAFT' AND THE WAR
MENACE TO THE COMMUNITY
"Anxiety in regard to near and dear relations at the war has caused many people to consult fortune tellers, and, according to a statement made by Sub-Inspector Brady at Carlton court yesterday, the menace had become so great that police action was necessary. The remark was made during the hearing of a case in which Elizabeth Livingston was charged on two counts with having unlawfully used certain subtle craft to impose on Madge Conner and Kathleen V. Conner respectively.

Madge Conner, police agent, said that on 18th ult. she and her daughter visited defendant's house at 746 Drummond street, and witness and defendant sat down opposite each other at a table. At defendant's dictation witness wrote her address and the following: - 'I came to Madame Zephy for advice for myself only.' Holding witness's hand, defendant said, 'You are not satisfied with your present surroundings. You are separated from your husband.' After witness handed her a photograph, she said, 'This is a bad-tempered man. I don't think he will ever come back, because I see in your hand a second marriage and mourning. You have a son at the war, but he will return. Your husband is at present with his own people in England. Your son is in France. You are going to Tasmania to relatives. You will meet with an accident. If you go into business you will make a great success of it.'

Witness paid defendant 2/6. She had no husband. He was dead. She had no son. In reply to Mr. J. Barnett, who appeared for the defence, witness said she was not imposed upon. Kathleen V. Conner, daughter of the last witness, said she visited defendant's place on 19th ult., and was told by the latter, among other things, that her father went to the war six months before his son, and they met in France. Witness paid her 2/6. Her father was dead. He was never at the war. She had no brother. To Mr. Barnett: I think I was imposed upon. Defendant, against whom there was a prior conviction under the name of 'Madam Zephy' in 1915, was fined £2 10/, with £2 12/6 costs, on each charge."

The Age, 16 May, 1917, p.9


April 1917

As this extract from an article entitled "Streets in Slumdom" indicates, long before the pioneering work of Frederick Oswald Barnett in the 1930s and the wholesale destruction wrought by the Housing Commission in the 1960s, there was concern about inner city housing conditions.

"Off Cardigan street, Carlton, there is a cobbled lane, which is a network of blind alleys. The lane contains two rows of cottages facing each other across a 'street' width of 20 feet. The doors of the houses open directly on the lane. Two or three of the ten houses in the alley have yards about 10 feet square. The others are built over the whole allotment with rough wooden outhouses. The only place for the housewife's washing line is the lane itself. On the very lowest assumption thirty or forty people live in this lane, and it is one of the 'desirable residential quarters' of the district. The houses are by no means dilapidated. They are small, hopelessly cramped, confined, but they are stoutly built of brick, and it is only the back portions with their rotting timber additions that are actively objectionable. Imagine what such a lane must be like on a Saturday or Sunday in the heat of summer. That 20 feet of rough cobbled space is the only refuge for men, women and children from the heat of the dolls' houses they live in. The rents of these houses are only a few shillings less than the rent of a brick villa in the great open suburbs of Melbourne.

Off Queensberry street there is a 12-foot lane leading into a whole labyrinth of narrow streets and blind alleys, scarcely one of which is more than 14 feet in width. Little Queensberry street so doubles upon itself that it is front and back to the same houses. It contains a nest of slum dwellings, one or two of which have fallen to pieces, or have been demolished. The ruins are left to rot on the allotments they were built upon. Some of the best of the houses actually possess front gardens, 8 feet is a fair average size, and then of course the tenants have to pay for the luxury by having 8 feet deducted from what would otherwise be a 10-foot back yard. The typical house in such an alley is a wooden structure, of four or five rooms, often not more than 9 feet by 9 feet."

The Age, 28 April, 1917, p 6

The article continues with descriptions of nearby "streets", Queensberry Place, Magenta Place, Ormond Place and Rodney Place.


March 1917

With the summer over, moral issues were a prominent topic. Members of the Erskine Presbyterian Church, which then stood on the south west corner of Grattan Street, were concerned with the wellbeing of boys from the country.

INSTITUTE ESTABLISHED
HOTEL TRANSFORMED
"An institute for young men has been opened by the Erskine Presbyterian Church in a delicensed hotel at 118 Barkly street, Carlton. The institute has been created for the purpose of providing a home, under religious influence, for lads coming from the country and is under the leadership of the Rev. L.C.M. Donaldson, minister of the church. There are four distinct divisions, namely, religious, social, educational, and domestic, these departments being under the management of four qualified superintendents. The institute also aims at another great object in the cause of boy life, and that is gathering in those Carlton youths who live chiefly in the streets and whose companions are most undesirable. This work is being carried on by the Young Men's Bible class of the Erskine Church, the members of which are contributing 10/- a week toward the upkeep of the Institute. There are already eight lads in residence, and vacancies for others."

The Weekly Times, 17 March 1917, p8.

Another church group was active too at St Michael's in Macpherson Street, North Carlton. They warned of the moral dangers of mixed bathing and must have had some influence, because mixed bathing was not introduced at the Carlton Baths until 1930.
The St Michael's, Carlton, branch of the Church of England's men's society discussed "what ought to be a Christian's attitude to mixed bathing. A motion was carried affirming that mixed bathing as it has been carried on in the last few years has helped to lower the morals of the community and this branch is strongly of opinion that stricter supervision of dress and conduct is urgently required."

The Weekly Times, 24 March 1917, p8


February 1917

In the days before there was a Family Court to rule on issues between husband and wife, decisions were made in the Police Court or, as in this case, the Insolvency Court. Clara Armitage (sometimes Bridget) had been bringing legal actions against her husband Cornelius since at least 1901, eleven years after they married. But this ruling looks like the end of the legal road. It sounds as if it was close to the end for him too but, in fact, he lived another thirty years to the age of 80.

"Appeals against maintenance orders were heard on Wednesday in General Sessions jurisdiction by Judge Johnston in the Insolvency Court. In the case of Cornelius Armitage, who appealed against a direction by the Carlton bench that he should pay 10/ per week towards the support, of his wife, Clara Armitage, evidence was given by appellant that he was very poor, that he only worked about one day a week selling crumpets, and that he was disabled through being deaf and almost blind. His Honor reduced the amount of maintenance to be paid on the order, to one farthing per week."

The Age, 23 February, 1917 p. 11


January 1917

Christmas is traditionally a time of good will, but this was not the experience of Constable J. Allison, who was attacked by hooligans while attempting to make an arrest in Madeline (Swanston) Street on Christmas Day in 1916. The case was heard two weeks later in Carlton Court in January 1917 and resulted in fines for two of the hooligans, who claimed to have no memory of the incident.

CONSTABLE'S FACE INJURED
CHRISTMAS DAY FIGHT
"As a result of a disturbance in Madeline street, Carlton, on Christmas Day, in the course of which Constable J. Allison had his face so severely injured that he had to go to the Police Hospital, two men appeared before Messrs R. S. Callender and J. Love, J.'s P., at the Carlton Court on January 9. James Seymour, 24, tinsmith, was fined 20/, in default seven days' imprisonment, for offensive behavior ; £15, in default four months' imprisonment, for having thrown a missile; and £10, in default three months, for having resisted arrest. William James Pearson, 20, laborer, was fined £10, in default three months' imprisonment, for having assaulted Constable Allison. Constable Allison stated that on the evening of Christmas Day about 15 or 20 men were creating a disturbance in Madeline street. They had charge of the footpath. Some of them had bottles In their pockets. He ordered them to move away, and they went into Canada lane. Seymour was very offensive, and threw a bottle at witness. On being caught, he resisted, and witness had to throw him twice. While they were struggling, Pearson struck witness on the face, causing a severe injury. Witness's prisoner got away. Seymour and Pearson both said, on oath, that they did not remember anything about the affair."

The Weekly Times, 13 January 1917, p. 39.


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