The Carlton Community History Group arose from the interest of a number of people who had many questions about the history of Carlton North in particular. Those questions ranged from trivial things like why Rathdowne Street was spelt that way or without an "e" in some records, to more significant issues like what was Yarra Council doing about preserving the history of the area now we are no longer in the City of Melbourne. What had happened to the Carlton Community History Catalogue which many people worked on for more than 2 years and recorded on computer but has now disappeared? Has there been any effort to fill in the gaps which are revealed in Carlton A History or The Jews and Italians in Carlton? What was it like growing up, going to school or working in Carlton North in the 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s 90s and so on? Are there interesting stories and photos which people have which should be preserved?
As we started to explore some of these questions we learned more and more about the area and realized how big the gaps were. Where were the ordinary people, those people who still love the suburb even if they no longer live there? We know a bit about the high profile purveyors of coffee or pasta, the writers who call Carlton home but not much about the people who owned the shops for years and years, who worked in the factories and dairies, who delivered the wood, sold the papers on the street, went to the SP book makers up the lane. We found that people were still interested in Giorgio Mangiamele a photographer and film maker, the Bassos who have run a tailoring shop in Rathdowne St for 55 years, the Wards who lived in Fenwick and Henry St. We also found some fascinating connections. Do you know what connects a foundry and forge in Elgin Street early in the last century, a young man called Lucky or Fortunato who was raised in a grocery shop in Rathdowne Street and a girl called Alison who has a picture of her dancing partner at the Lee St Ball in the 1940s? Could you guess that the forge made the horse shoes worn by the first winner of the Melbourne Cup, Archer, that Lucky actually became a silversmith and made a number of Melbourne Cups and that the 12 year old dancing partner became the Chairman of the Victorian Racing Commission?
Do you know what life was like in Davis Street in 1891 when 14 women signed a monster petition asking that women be given the right to vote and do you know what the women of Davis street feel about the value of the vote they exercise today which was finally won in 1908?
If you have some stories to tell or some things to share please come to our meetings as we try to record the continuing history of this fascinating suburb.
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