Carlton Community History Group

Small Streets of Carlton

Carlton is well known for its network of small and narrow streets and laneways, a legacy of largely unregulated subdivision and speculative building activity in the 19th century. In the 1930s, many of these streets were condemned as slum pockets and under threat of demolition. Over the decades, some streets have been swallowed up by residential and commercial developments, others have been re-born as new streets, while a few have survived remarkably intact. This page - a work in progress - is dedicated to stories of the small streets of Carlton, and the people who lived and worked there.

Airedale Place Carlton
Digitised image: State Library of Victoria
Airedale Place Carlton in the 1930s, looking south from High Street. The laneway measured four feet (1.31 metres) wide.

1MMBW Detail Plan 1188, 1897 (Digitised copy, State Library of Victoria)
2 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Victoria and Smith Wards, 1872 to 1939
3 Probate File 282/418, 1936 (VPRS 28)
4 The Argus, 28 August 1936, p. 12
5 The Argus, 29 August 1936, p. 16
6 The Argus, 18 August 1915, p. 5.
7 First (Progress) Report of the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board (1936-37), p. 7
8 The Argus, 2 July 1940, p. 2
9 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Smith Ward, 1941 to 1959-60
10 The Argus, 28 June 1913, p. 2
11 House occupancy information sourced from Sands & McDougall 1873 to 1941
12 Inquest Deposition File 1903/1188, 1903 (VPRS 24)
13 The Argus, 18 April 1898, p. 6
14 The Argus, 7 February 1924, p. 13
15 Divorce Case File 1930/279, 1930 (VPRS 283)
16 Marriage Index Victoria, reg. no. 16726, 1940
17 Central Queensland Herald, 19 September 1940, p. 35
18 Inquest Deposition File 1940/1383, 1940 (VPRS 24)
19 The shooting incident and subsequent trial were reported in The Argus and other newspapers from April to July 1944.
20 Jean Dowling's age was stated as 15 years old in some newspaper reports, but Death Index Victoria reg. no. 5419, 1944 confirms that she was 14.
21 Divorce Case File 1930/279, op cit, and the Victorian Electoral Roll confirm that Violet Grace Toner lived at 458 Canning Street North Carlton.
22 The Argus, 19th July 1944, p. 6

Airedale Place Carlton

Airedale Place, also known as Airdale or Iredale Place, dates back to 1872, yet it remained unnamed in the City of Melbourne rate books until 1905. The small laneway of six three-room brick cottages was located at the rear of houses at 490 to 496 Lygon Street (later demolished) and entered via a right of way off High Street. Charles Fewster was the original owner from 1871 to 1873, followed by Robert Donaldson (1874 to 1913), Dr Thomas Hodgson (1914 to 1917), Patrick Killury (1919 to 1921), Catherine Killury (1922 to 1936), and their daughter Isobel McDonald (1937 to 1958).1,2

Catherine Killury died in 1936 and in her will, dated 14 March 1935, she left real estate properties in Coburg and Carlton to her daughters Mary Clarice and Isobel. The will was challenged by her three other children - Thomas, Patrick and Catherine Hilda - on the grounds that their mother "lacked testimatory capacity" at the time of making her will, and that "undue influence" had been exercised by the nominated executrix Mary Clarice. The court upheld the will and awarded costs against the three siblings.3,4,5

Isobel's inheritance may have proved more a liability than an asset. As early as 1915, Airedale Place was identified as a congestion area in a report by town planner Mr. J.C. Morrell presented to the Minister for Public Works. Around the time of Catherine's death in 1936, the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board was inspecting dwellings in Carlton and other suburbs and, in their first (progress) report, described the cottages of Airedale Place as "in shocking condition".6,7

The cottages were demolished in 1941-42, but the Housing Commission did not allow rebuilding on land with frontages along laneways, so Isobel continued to pay rates on the vacant land, measuring 88 x 50 feet. The land was finally acquired by the Housing Commission in 1958 and, together with High Street and the east side of Lygon Street, redeveloped into high rise flats.8,9

Earlier in its life, Airedale Place was described in newspaper advertisements as "one of the best positions in Carlton for letting" and "within easy walking distance of the G.P.O." As a rental street, Airedale Place was home to both short- and long-term tenants. Alfred Herron, a hawker, lived at no. 11 Airedale Place for more than 10 years. Alfred's brother Henry, who was homeless and had a drinking problem, came to stay with him in October 1903. When Henry went missing, Alfred reported his disappearence to the Carlton Police, but his body was found several days later in the Yarra River.10,11,12

The previous occupants of no. 11 Airedale Place, the Holmes family, suffered a terrible loss in April 1898 when two of their three children died within days of each other. The three little girls - twins Rosalie and Beatrice and their younger sister Dora - shared a bed and the cramped conditions of the small cottage did not allow for isolation of a seriously ill child. Rosalie was the first to become ill, but Dora was the first to die. Unable to secure ambulance transport for Rosalie, Mr Holmes made a desperate attempt to carry her to the Children's Hospital in Pelham Street, where she later died. The Carlton branch of the District Nursing Service reported the case in The Argus as an example of "Red-tapeism v. Humanity".13

Edward Toner lived at no. 3 Airedale Place in 1924 and in the same year was charged with theft of a suitcase. Toner pleaded guilty and he later went on to record other convictions in Melbourne and Adelaide. His wife, Violet Grace Toner, petitioned for divorce in 1930 citing "he had undergone frequent convictions for crime and had been sentenced in the aggregate to imprisonment for three years and upwards, and had left [her] habitually without means of support". They re-married in 1940, but their days together were numbered. Six weeks after the wedding, Edward was fatally hit by a truck while walking along the Western Highway at Melton.14,15,16,17,18

Another tragedy followed in 1944, when their 14 year old daughter Jean Dowling was shot and killed by her husband Victor at her mother's home in Canning Street, North Carlton. Victor Dowling, a 19 year old soldier, claimed that the shooting was accidental, and he attempted to kill himself when he realised his wife was dead. Dowling was acquitted on the murder charge and sentenced to five years' jail for manslaughter, with the jury's strong recommendation for mercy.19,20,21,22

Carlton Place Carlton
Source: Extract from Certificate of Title, Vol. 4438, Fol. 468
Plan of Christopher Glynn's Allotment
The road from Lygon Street is York Place

Carlton Place Carlton
Digitised image: State Library of Victoria
Carlton Place Carlton, off Drummond Street, in the 1930s.

1 MMBW Detail Plan 1187, 1897 (Digitised copy, State Library of Victoria)
2 The two other streets named Carlton Place were off Lygon Street, between Earl and Queensberry Streets, and off Madeline (Swanston) Street, near Queensberry Street.
3 Biographical information has been sourced from birth, death and marriage records.
4 New South Wales Shipping Records, Assisted Migrants
5 In quarantine : a history of Sydney's quarantine Station 1828-1984. Kangaroo Press, 1995, p. 55-57
6 Melbourne General Cemetery records
7 Certificate of title application file no. 10602 (VPRS 460)
8 The Age, 9 November 1858, p. 5
9 All Saints Church of England 1858-1958, souvenir booklet, p. 8-9
10 The All Saints Church was built in stages over several years and the initial contract awarded to Christopher Glynn was for laying the foundations to plinth level only. Two other builders were contracted to build the walls and roof.
11 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Smith Ward, 1859-1874
12 The Argus, 20 July 1860, p. 1
13 The Argus, 7 June 1862, p. 4
14 Declaration, dated 29 December 1869, by Christopher Glynn in certificate of title application file no. 2295
15 Certificate of title application file no. 42616 (VPRS 460)
16 Certificate of title application file no. 2295 (VPRS 460)
17 Certificate of title, vol. 275, Fol. 998
18 The Argus, 15 July 1874, p. 8
19 Victoria Government Gazette, 5 July 1872, p. 1268
20 The insolvency was declared a few weeks after the marriage of Christopher Glynn's daughter Mary to Lambton Le Breton Mount at St Peter's Eastern Hill on 17 June 1874.
21 The Advocate, 4 July 1874, p. 9
22 Land ownership information has been sourced from certificates of title previously cited.
23 Weekly Times, 5 August 1882, p. 13
24 Melbourne General Cemetery records
25 The Argus, 13 November 1897, p. 10
26 Probate File 149/822, 1917 (VPRS 28)
27 First (Progress) Report of the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board (1936-37)
28 Certificate of title, vol. 9786, fol. 027 (consolidation plan) and preceding titles.

Carlton Place Carlton (off Drummond Street)

The Carlton Clocktower, with the time standing still at 12 o'clock, is a prominent landmark in Drummond Street. The business and accommodation complex was built in the 1980s on a site once occupied by Carlton Place, one of three so-named streets that co-existed in Carlton in the mid-19th century. The laneway was accessed from the west side of Drummond Street, between Grattan and University Streets, and the east side of Lygon Street via York Place. The four brick cottages stood midway between Drummond and Lygon Streets and faced the rear of 239-241 Drummond Street.1,2

The man who created Carlton Place was a stonemason named Christopher Joseph Glynn, from Cork in Ireland. He married Margaret Sophia Raymond on 4 November 1849 and they had a daughter, Anna Maria, in 1852. The family emigrated to Australia on the Beejapore, but the journey was marked with tragedy. There was an outbreak of disease on board and 55 passengers, mostly children and infants, died and were buried at sea. On arrival in Australia on 6 January 1853, the ship was quarantined at Port Jackson, New South Wales. Having survived the 85 day voyage, the passengers and crew, numbering nearly 900, had to be accommodated for another 34 days at a quarantine station designed for 150 people. Disease was rife in the crowded conditions and another 62 passengers died, among them Anna Maria Glynn on 18 February 1853, at the age of 11 months.3,4,5

Christopher and Margaret settled in Melbourne, where there was ample work for builders and stonemasons as the city extended its boundaries to house a growing population. They had three more children - Christopher (1854), Mary (1856) and Patrick (1857). The family suffered another loss when Patrick died on 8 December 1857, aged 9 months. He was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery and his parents had a monument erected in memory of Anna Maria and her brother Patrick.6

Christopher Glynn became a landowner in February 1858 when he was granted the crown title to an allotment facing Drummond Street, Carlton. He paid £470 for the allotment and in August of the same year, he paid another £84 for a portion of land from the adjoining allotment owned by John Harbison. This land, 56 feet wide, formed the western boundary of Carlton Place and the four cottages that were built there. Later that year, Glynn was awarded a contract to the value of £358/11/8 for laying the foundations of the All Saints Church of England in St Kilda. The work was undertaken during November and December of 1858 and most likely funded building of the modest cottages in Carlton Place.7,8,9,10

Records for Carlton Place first appeared in the City of Melbourne rate books for 1859. Unlike his tenants living in narrow three-room brick cottages, Mr Glynn and his family lived around the corner in Drummond Street in a six-room stone and brick house, complete with kitchen, bath and stables. Mrs Glynn advertised for a visiting governess in 1860, so they could afford to have the children home-schooled. But the family's time together was cut short with the death of Margaret on 6 June 1862. She was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery with her son Patrick, and her name was added to the monument. Christopher married Mary Ann Pye six years later on 6 June 1868, at St Jude's Church.11,12,13,14

Christopher Glynn had other real estate holdings in Carlton. In 1860, he purchased land in Barkly Street for £270, built five bluestone and brick cottages named Barkly Terrace in 1862 and sold the improved site to Abraham Levy for £1,250 in 1868. He owned two corner sites in Lygon Street, on opposite corners with Grattan Street. In 1862, he purchased the University Hotel, which he leased to publican Michael O'Connell for a three year period commencing 1 February 1869. On the other corner, he purchased the site, now occupied by Watt's shoe store, in 1868.15,16,17

Christopher Glynn was active in local government and represented Smith Ward on the Melbourne City Council until his resignation in 1874. He also became involved in the brewing trade and this proved to be his financial downfall. In June 1872, his business partnership with James Byrne in the West End Brewery was dissolved by mutual consent. Two years later, in July 1874, Christopher Glynn and his business partner John Buckley were declared insolvent. The reasons for insolvency were cited as "losses in business, through large quantities of beer being returned by customers as unfit for use, on account of its going bad, and through large quantities going bad on the hands of the firm, and becoming unfit for sale, notwithstanding their efforts to keep it in good condition." Clearly, Messrs Glynn and Buckley had serious problems with their brewing process.18,19,20,21

John Halfey and William Joseph Ecroyd were appointed trustees of the insolvent estate and their task was to sell off assets in order to pay creditors. The University Hotel was sold to John Wolstenholme in October 1874 and the Drummond Street allotment, comprising Carlton Place and Christopher Glynn's house, was sold to John Holtom in December 1874, just before Christmas. The Glynn family, most likely, did not have much to celebrate during the festive season that year. In February 1875, John Holtom leased part of the allotment to William Bland, a dairyman from Coburg, and in July 1877 Mr. Bland purchased the entire allotment.22

In the years following his insolvency and resignation from Melbourne City Council, Christopher Glynn seemed to disappear from public life. He died in Carlton on 29 July 1882 and the circumstances surrounding his death reflect poorly on hospital admission policies at the time. Glynn was taken to the Melbourne Hospital the day before his death, thought to be suffering from a burst blood vessel, but he was denied admission on the grounds that he had senile dementia. He was only 53 years old and, from what is now known of dementia, his symptoms may have been medical in origin. Following his death, a complaint was made by a man named Mr McDonald to the hospital board, which subsequently upheld the decision of the medical superintendent, Dr. Miller, stating: "If they were to admit all such cases, there would soon be no room in the institution for acute and deserving cases." A newspaper report of Glynn's death commented he "was a very old colonist, and at one time wealthy." Christopher Glynn was buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, with his first wife Margaret and son Patrick.23,24

Meanwhile, William Bland the dairyman had swapped his cows for horses and was operating a livery stable at 241 Drummond Street. He received quite a shock in November 1897 when a stone parapet fell from his house and crashed onto the verandah, causing an estimated £100 damage. Would Christopher Glynn have turned in his grave had he known that the house he built was unstable? William Bland was the longest-running owner of Carlton Place and he continued operating the livery stable into the early twentieth century, in the face of stiff competition from Freeman's livery stables nearby at 337 Drummond Street. He died in England on 18 September 1916 and his real estate holdings in Carlton, comprising 241 Drummond Street and the four cottages of Carlton Place, were valued at £1820 when probate was granted in May 1917.25,26

In 1921, William Bland's real estate was sold to his one-time rival Henry Freeman, livery stable keeper. A few years later, in 1924, Chin Wah Moon and Ah You were owners for a short time, then onsold the land to James and Edward Hannan, bottle merchants, in the same year. During the Hannan's ownership, Carlton Place was identified as a slum pocket by the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board in their report of 1936-37. This was the last year in which Carlton Place appeared in Sands & McDougall and the rate books as a residential street. By 1939, the land was absorbed into 239-241 Drummond Street, then sold to T.L. Properties Pty Ltd in 1970 and the Carlton Clocktower Complex Pty Ltd in 1987.27,28

The site of Christopher Glynn's house and Carlton Place was swallowed up by redevelopment, but York Place still exits and gives some sense of locality. If you walk along York Place from Lygon Street as far as the closed gateway, you can see on the right hand side the place where the cottages of Carlton Place once stood. The bluestone and brick cottages of Barkly Terrace, where Squizzy Taylor and Snowy Cutmore had a fatal shootout in 1927, were demolished in 1965. The foundations of the All Saints Church, which Christopher Glynn laid back in 1858, are all that remains of his building legacy.

Related items:
Freeman's Livery Stables
Squizzy Taylor, 1888-1927

Henry Street North Carlton
Photo: Courtesy of Ward Family
Henry Street North Carlton in the 1950s, looking south.

Henry Street North Carlton
Photo: Courtesy of Ward Family
Vacant block at no. 13, next door to Ward Family home.

1 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Victoria Ward, 1873-1889
2 The Argus, 25 October 1900, p. 7
3 The Argus, 1 November 1900, p. 6
4 The Argus, 22 November 1900, p. 6
5 Central Register of Male Prisoners, No. 29420 (VPRS 515)
6 The Argus, 24 February 1920, p. 8
7 Ruby's father Richard John Knape died in 1919 and her mother Lillian married Arthur James Reynolds in the same year.
7 The Age, 13 August 1917, p. 8
8 Truth, 18 August 18 1917, p. 6
9 Central Register of Female Prisoners, No. 7372 (VPRS 516)
10 The Venereal Diseases Act of 1916, section 14, made special provisions for prisoners: "During any period of detention under this section such prisoner shall be deemed to be in legal custody and the period of detention shall run concurrently with but may exceed the term of imprisonment to which such prisoner has been sentenced."
11 The Argus, 21 May 1956, p. 5
12 Recollections of George Ward, 2012
13 Properties condemned under section 56 of the Housing Act 1958 (VPRS 1824)
14 City of Melbourne Building Application index (VPRS 11201)

Henry Street North Carlton

Henry Street, tucked away behind the cafes and restaurants on the west side of Rathdowne Street, spent its first hundred years as a row of working man's cottages. The first 7 cottages were partly built in 1873, followed by 4 more in 1874, and the final cottage in 1886. The 3 or 4 room cottages were mainly of wood, with some of mixed wood and brick or stone, construction. The street numbering of 1 to 27 (odd numbers only) was in place by 1889, with double 33 feet (approximately 10 metres) frontage blocks at 15 and 27.1

The residents of Henry Street were a mix of renters and owner/occupiers, with some dual property owners living in one cottage and renting out the other. Though a small street, Henry Street was not without incident. In 1900 Arthur Thomas Weatherdon (Weatherton), a dentist aged 19, was "charged with being improperly intimate with Elizabeth Josephine Barrett, aged 15 years." In his defence, Elizabeth Barrett claimed that she told Weatherdon she was over 16 years of age, and the judge hearing the case commented that she looked older than her 15 years. Weatherdon avoided a custodial sentence in this case, with the judge ruling that "he was there to punish crime, not immorality". But Weatherdon was imprisoned for three months on a separate charge of possessing housebreaking implements, two skeleton keys, which were found during a police search of his house in Henry Street. He allegedly told Elizabeth that the keys would open the doors of every house in the street. Elizabeth Barrett was charged with vagrancy and committed to a reformatory, thus ending the sorry tale of the two young lovers.2,3,4,5

In 1920 Ruby Knape, aged 21, was hospitalised after taking poison at her mother Lillian Reynolds' house in Henry Street. This was not the first poisoning incident involving the young woman. Three years earlier in 1917, she collapsed outside the State Savings Bank in Elizabeth Street, following a lovers' quarrel and the ingestion of poison, believed to be Condy's crystals. The hapless young woman survived the poisoning, but within a few days she appeared in the City Court and was detained for a medical examination for venereal disease. She was convicted of having an insufficient lawful means of support and sentenced to six months imprisonment, with a concurrent sentence of indefinite detention under the Venereal Diseases Act of 1916. Ruby spent more than a year in detention, initially at Melbourne Gaol and later at the Female Prison in Coburg. She was finally released on 21 October 1918, when she was deemed cured of venereal disease, or no longer infectious. 6,7,8,9

A house in Henry Street was the target of a police raid, led by First Constable D. McAvoy, one Saturday night in May 1956. After a thorough search of the premises yielded nothing, the police departed, but they quietly returned later and heard the sound of money jingling in the backyard. They forced open the back gate and discovered two patches of freshly-turned earth. This time, the search yielded cash and a charity collection tin, battered open with an axe, stolen that night from the Woolpack Hotel in Drummond Street. The police recovered £1/18/9 and issued a summons against two 16-year-old Carlton youths and a 20-year-old lad.10

George Ward, whose family lived at 11 Henry Street, has happy memories of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s.

"Being a dead end street, there was rarely a problem with playing football or cricket as we did not have passing traffic. One of the neighbours, Bert, was sometimes worried about us breaking his windows, so we would move down the street and continue the game. He worked at MacRobertson's chocolate factory, and sometimes brought home a box of Cherry Ripe off cuts that we got to share." 11

The Ward family moved to Doncaster in 1966 and their cottage, under a Housing Commission order since 1942, was demolished in 1968. By the early 1970s, all the cottages had been demolished and, after 100 years, Henry Street was ready for redevelopment. The new two-storey townhouses were built from the 1980s through to the early 1990s, replacing the original working man's cottages. Henry Street is now enjoying its second life as a residential street.12,13

Herbert Street North Carlton
Photo: CCHG
Former laboratory building
Herbert Street North Carlton

1 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Victoria Ward, 1885
2 Burchett Index, Reg. no. 2404, 1886
3 Sands & McDougall, 1883
4 Burchett Index, Reg. no. 5707, 1893
5 Probate file of Joseph Beer, no. 117/764, 1910 (VPRS 28)
6 The Argus, 11 July 1899, p. 6
7 The Argus, 20 November 1903, p. 7
8 Burchett Index, Reg. no. 2084, 1910
9 Death Index Victoria, 1921-1985
10 Sands & McDougall, 1910-1974
11 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Victoria Ward, 1956-1975
12 Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill Conservation Study, Nigel Lewis and Associates, 1984
13 City of Melbourne Building Application Index (VPRS 11202)

Herbert Street North Carlton

Herbert Street began its life in 1885 as a builder's yard, midway between Fenwick and Macpherson Streets, on the west side of Rathdowne Street. The land was owned by Robert Ekins, who also owned several houses in the same block of Rathdowne Street. In September 1886 Robert Ekins' son-in-law, Arthur Parkin, registered a notice of intent to build a laboratory on the south side of the street. The two-storey laboratory, described as a brick factory in rate books, was designed by architect A.H. Cutler and built by John Hill. Arthur Parkin, a manufacturing chemist, previously operated from a building on the corner of Station and Richardson Streets.1,2,3

Seven years later in 1893, Joseph Beer registered a notice of intent to build a villa, thus completing the south side of the street. Joseph Beer, who lived nearby in Drummond Street, built two houses in Herbert Street for his daughters Emelyn (Emma) Hanslow and Scebella Schierwagen (later Hoffman). At the time of his death in 1910, Mr Beer owned several properties in Carlton and North Carlton, including Gunvena House and Lancarr House in Drummond Street, Montreal Terrace in Faraday Street, and 628 Lygon Street.4,5

Arthur Parkin's business suffered a setback in July 1899, when fire caused extensive damage to the first floor of the building. A newspaper article in The Argus refers to "Mr Parkin's oatmeal factory" and attributes the cause of the fire to the ignition of a silk sieve. In November 1903, Mr Parkin was fined for selling adulterated raspberry vinegar. Government analysis confirmed the product contained 48.17% water, 23.9% sulphuric acid (added as preservative) and colouring matter, with "very little, if any" raspberry juice.6,7

Arthur Parkin & Company expanded the business in 1910-11, building a single storey warehouse on the north side of Herbert Street. Mr Parkin died in 1939, but his company continued to operate from premises in Herbert Street until the 1950s. The warehouse was used for storage by Arthur Parkin & Company until 1943, when Austin & Fink moved in. After a few years' vacancy, E.M.F. Electric Company occupied the site from 1947 to 1963 inclusive, followed by Kirby Furniture Group in 1964 and Inland Salt Company from 1965. The wording "Inland Salt Co Pty Ltd" can still be seen on brickwork at the front of 4 Herbert Street.8,9,10

The original laboratory building was home to F. Agostino & Co, wine and spirit merchants, for ten years from 1956, followed by Dorado Distributors from 1966. A photo taken in 1984 for the Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill Conservation Study shows the wording "Dorado Distributors" on the front of the building, now faded to outline.11,12

The 1980s and 1990s saw major changes, with conversion of both the laboratory building and warehouse for residential use. Together with the two houses built by Joseph Beer for his daughters, Herbert Street is now entirely residential.13

Rental Terrace
Extract from MMBW plan no. 1180 & 1181
(Digitised copy, State Library of Victoria)

Rental Terrace Carlton (as surveyed in 1896)

Owens & Dixon Bakery
Image courtesy of Bill Owens
Owens & Dixon Bakery in Victoria Street Carlton (circa 1919-20)
The western wall of Queen's Coffee Palace is on the right and the rooftops of Rathdowne Terrace are just visible in the background.

1 Parish plan of Jika Jika M314(14), County of Bourke
2 The Argus, 23 August 1853, p. 1
3 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Gipps Ward 1850-1855
4 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Smith Ward 1858
5 Australian Dictionary of Biography online
6 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Smith Ward 1860-1861
7 Probate file of Moses Rintel, no. 20/630, 1880 (VPRS 28)
8 Probate file of Elvina Rintel, no. 91/092, 1904 (VPRS 28)
9 MMBW plan no. 1180 & 1181, 1896
10 City of Melbourne Building Application index (VPRS 11201)

Rathdowne Terrace Carlton

Rathdowne Terrace, one of the forgotten streets of Carlton, dates back to the early development of the southern end of Rathdowne Street. In the government land sale of 3 May 1853, John Snowball purchased allotment 2, section 19, parish of Jika Jika, and by August 1853 he was using the address "Rathdowne Street Carlton Gardens" in newspaper advertisements for mason's labourers. The first record of rated properties in Rathdowne Street appears in the City of Melbourne rate books for Gipps Ward in 1854, with John Snowball listed as ratepayer for a "stone house of 4 rooms, small workshop, stable and timber yard". But it is not until the following year that Rathdowne Terrace starts to take shape. In 1855, seven brick and stone houses are recorded for the Snowball brothers and three years later, in 1858, the place name "Rathdowne Terrace" first appears in the rate books.1,2,3,4

In 1860 Moses Rintel, a Jewish Rabbi from Edinburgh, bought a large house in Rathdowne Street, just around the corner from Rathdowne Terrace, and by 1861 he owned the corner shop and all 7 houses in the Terrace. Rathdowne Terrace remained in the Rintel family for the next 35 years, with ownership passing from Moses to his widow Elvina upon his death in 1880. Elvina survived her husband by 24 years and died in 1904.5,6,7,8

Rathdowne Terrace was renamed in the 1890s, appearing as Rentel Terrace in Sands & McDougall in 1893 and as Rental Terrace in MMBW plan no. 1180 & 1181 in 1896. The plan shows Rental Terrace as it was surveyed in 1896, the final year of Elvina Rintel's ownership. The cottages occupy the north side of the street and are numbered 9 through to 21. Around the corner in Rathdowne Street, the shop and house originally owned by Moses Rintel are numbered 19 and 21. On its southern boundary, Rental Terrace is overlooked by Queen's Coffee Palace, a five-storey building on the corner of Victoria and Rathdowne Streets.9

Rental or Rentel Terrace continued for another 30 years, with several changes of ownership, and the cottages remained rental properties for the rest of their lives. The final rate book entries for Rathdowne Terrace are in 1927, with only one of the houses (no. 17) listed as occupied. In 1928, the site is described as "land" with dimensions corresponding to John Snowball's original allotment. In the same year, the Building Application Index records application no. H 1020 for "erection of fence" at 19 to 21 Rathdowne Street, site of the now demolished shop and house. The land was used by Owens & Dixon Bakery, located in Victoria Street, and the fence served later as an advertising hoarding.10

The cottages have long since gone and what remains of Rental Terrace is now a private delivery lane at the rear of the old Cancer Council building, on the site of the former Queens' Coffee Palace and its later incarnation as St Anne's Hostel. Rental Terrace still exists today as a Melway map reference (2B G11) and perhaps also in the memories of those who once lived there.

More information

Reeves Street
Photo: CCHG
Reeves Street Carlton, looking west towards Drummond Street

1 The Argus, 7 September 1867, p. 2
2 The Argus, 9 May 1868, p. 5
3 The Argus, 10 August 1868, p. 2
4 The Argus, 27 January to 13 February 1879
5 The Age, 1 October 1903, p. 6
6 The Argus, 1 October 1903, p.5
7 The Argus, 23 June 1916, p. 4
8 The Argus, 5 June 1926, p. 17
9 The Argus, 19 August 1931, p. 10
10 City of Melbourne, Town Clerks Correspondence
File nos. 5460 and 5463-5468, 1939 (VPRS 3183)
11 The Age, 24 October 1939, p. 10
12 Freudenberg, Graham. Calwell, Arthur Augustus (1896�1973) (Australian Dictionary of Biography)
13 The Age, 3 August 1957, p. 7
14 Victoria Government Gazette, no. 256, 13 November 1957, p. 3610
15 City of Melbourne Rate Books, Smith Ward, 1957-1963
16 The Herald, 6 April 1961, p. 1
17 Victoria Government Gazette, no. 18, 13 March 1963, p. 581

Reeves Street Carlton

Street Carlton re-opened as a residential street in 2011, 48 years after its closure by the Housing Commission. The street, which runs between Rathdowne and Drummond Streets, just south of Princes Street, was originally developed by John Reeves, publican of the Ancient Briton Hotel. He bought the land in 1866 and the first sale advertisments for investment properties in Reeves Street appeared in The Argus in September 1867, describing "well-built brick cottages, with verandahs, each containing three large and lofty rooms, with large, dry, and well-bricked yards and woodsheds in rear". The reference to "dry, and well-bricked yards" was a strong selling point at the time, when inadequate drainage in the Carlton area was known to contribute to poor health and disease. But property sales were slow and John Reeves was declared insolvent in May 1868, citing "inability to realise property to satisfy his creditors, and heavy rent". The properties remained on the market and by August 1868 advertisments offered sales in separate lots "to suit the working classes".1,2,3

Reeves Street came to public attention in January 1879, with the tragic death of Charlotte Collins from an alleged abortion. Mrs Collins, a widow and resident of no. 8 Reeves Street, left her home on 21 December 1878, saying she was going on a holiday to the seaside. But instead she checked into a boarding house in James Street Fitzroy, where she died 12 days later on 2 January 1879. Her death and the subsequent inquest were reported in some detail in The Argus from 27 January to 13 February 1879.4

A dispute over the ownership of a cat led to a curious case of illegal detention, heard in Carlton Magistrates Court before JPs Edwards and Clyne in October 1903. Felix Mortimer, an icecream vendor and resident of Reeves Street Carlton, sued his neighbour Michael Cregan, publican of the Ancient Briton Hotel in Rathdowne Street, for illegal detention of his cat. The cat in question, which did not appear in court, was described by the claimant as a black and white "Mauritius" cat with a burn mark on its tail. Mr Mortimer claimed that he had brought the much-travelled cat with him from his native Mauritius and, to the amusement of the court, that he loved the cat as if it was his own child. The defendant, Michael Cregan, claimed that he had owned the cat for more than 12 months, while Felix Mortimer stated that his cat had been missing for a few weeks and Cregan would not return it. The court decided in Mortimer's favour and ordered that Cregan return the cat or pay the amount of 5 shillings, fixed by the court as the value of the cat, and 19 shillings costs.5,6

In June 1916, Thomas Dooley was charged with an offence against a girl under the age of 16 years in the yard of a house in Reeves Street Carlton. Ten years later in June 1926, Norman Bidey was charged with stealing a wallet containing money and stamps from a work colleague. He admitted the theft to police and the wallet and remaining money were recovered from his room in Reeves Street Carlton. And in August 1931, Leonard Thomas Fordham of Reeves Street Carlton and Robert Clarence Jones of Kensington were charged with stealing a stove from a house owned by the Rev. T.W. Davis in Northcote. Fordham and Jones denied the charge, but the jury thought otherwise and found both men guilty of theft of a clergyman's stove.7,8,9

In October 1939 a report by Melbourne City Council Health Officer, Dr John Dale, described all 24 houses of Reeves Street as sub-standard and unfit for human habitation. At the time all the houses were rental properties, owned by George Burgess, Mary Jane Burgess, Ruby Cockburn, Robert Donald, Frederick Dunning, Mary Ann Garfield and Nantha Khan, none of whom lived in Reeves Street. The Council had the authority to condemn houses and order repairs under the Health Act, though there was some debate on overlapping areas of responsibility with the Housing Commission, established the previous year in 1938. Labor Councillor Arthur Calwell, who later became leader of the opposition in Federal Parliament, said the Council would be guilty of condoning a "social felony" if it did nothing about clearing the slums. The report's recommendations were adopted by Council and the house owners were given six weeks to carry out repairs.10,11,12

Reeves Street had a stay of execution and over the next two decades many of the houses were bought and sold, while still under the shadow of slum declaration. The demographic of Reeves Street, and Carlton in general, was changing with an influx of post-World War 2 migrants from Europe. "New Australians", a term coined by Arthur Calwell, were buying and occupying cheap houses in the inner city suburbs. There were reports that new Australians were "living in filth and squalor in Melbourne slum suburbs", however Reeves Street proved to be the exception to the rule. The Minister for Housing, Mr Petty, personally inspected 12 houses in Reeves Street and declared those occupied by new Australians as "little palaces" inside. But this was not enough to save Reeves Street, which was declared a slum reclamation area in November 1957.13,14

The 24 houses of Reeves Street were bought out by the Housing Commission and progressively demolished, with only 3 remaining in 1959-60. A front page article in The Herald in April 1961 includes a photo of the reclaimed Reeves Street site, with terrace houses in Drummond Street appearing in the background. These houses were later demolished for office buildings and, more recently, for student accommodation. Reeves Street was officially closed in March 1963, and concrete high-rise flats took the place of John Reeves' brick cottages. While the high-rise flats were seen as a practical solution to slum reclamation in the 1960s, more recent changes in housing policy have seen redevelopment of the Carlton estate into a mix of public and private housing. In 2011, Reeves Street was re-opened and newly-built properties are once again being advertised for sale.15,16,17

Shakespeare Street North Carlton
Image: CCHG
Shakespeare Street North Carlton, looking east towards Drummond Street.

Shakespeare Street North Carlton
Image: CCHG
View from the mini park, looking north towards the Scout Hall.

Notes and References
1 Property ownership information sourced from land title records
2 Melbourne City Council Rate Books, Victoria Ward (VPRS 5708)
3 Melbourne City Council. Notices of Intent (Burchett Index)
4 MMBW Detail Plan 1158
5 Building Application File, BA 10595 (VPRS 11201)
6 The Argus, 21 July 1930, p. 7
7 Victorian Heritage Database
8 First (Progress) Report of the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board (1936-37)
9 Properties condemned under section 56 of the Housing Act 1958 (VPRS 1824)
10 Melbourne Times, 17 November 1976, p. 1

Shakespeare Street North Carlton

Shakespeare Street dates back to 1870, when John Green and John Ryan purchased allotments 1, 2, 9 and 10 in the area bounded by Lygon, Fenwick and Drummond streets. Within six months, the land was onsold to David Henry, who was responsible for the subdivision that made up the structure of Shakespeare Street.1

first rated property was recorded in 1873, on land owned by Thomas Horace Smith on the north side of Shakespeare Street, near the Drummond Street end. No Notice of Intent has been located for this house, described as "wood 3 rooms (small)", suggesting it was built before the building regulations were extended to Carlton and North Carlton in 1872. The second house on the north side, built at the Lygon Street end, complied with the new building regulations. John Wootten registered a Notice of Intent to build a wooden house on 22 April 1873, and this house was first recorded in the rate books in 1874. Shakespeare Street then had a house at either end on the north side of the street, but had to wait more than 10 years for the next stage of development.2,3

The mid-1880s saw a flurry of building activity, with six Notices of Intent registered from 1885 to 1886. The first, registered by publican Mathew Rahilly in January 1885, was not actually in Shakespeare Street because the two cottages faced Drummond Street. Builders William Perry and John Hawkins followed in June and July 1885, each registering four cottages to be built on the south side of the street. Also in July 1885, John Wootten registered a Notice of Intent for "2 cottages and addition to another", though no evidence of the original wooden cottage remains today. Finally, in November 1886, William Rankine registered a Notice of Intent for a house on the north side at the Drummond Street end. The south side of Shakespeare Street was now complete, but the 60 feet wide block in the middle on north side remained largely undeveloped. The site served as a workshop for Enoch Jones and remained in the Jones Family from 1885 to 1927.4

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Boy Scouts Association established a presence in Shakespeare Street. A building application for a scout hall, designed by architect Harry James and to be built by J. Perryman, was lodged on 18 May 1928. The foundation stone was laid by the Lord Mayor Councillor Luxton in July 1930 and, on completion in October 1930, the scout hall was the last building to fill the street. The hall was purpose-built for public performances, with a raised platform, off-stage dressing rooms and cloakrooms. It served a dual purpose in providing a home base for the First Carlton Troop and also a source of income from hiring out the premises for public and private functions. The hall is described as "a well-preserved but late example of Neo-baroque styling, with steel-framed windows and segmental arches to openings" in the Victorian Heritage Database. It is considered "socially and historically significant for its public role in North Carlton." 5,6,7

Shakespeare Street was identified as a "slum pocket", along with six other small streets in North Carlton, by the Housing Investigation and Slum Abolition Board in 1936-37. The real threat came later in the 1950s and 1960s, when the Housing Commission of Victoria condemned five cottages on the south side (nos. 7 to 15 inclusive, all rental properties) as unfit for human habitation. One property owner appealed to the Housing Commission to buy them out, but to no avail. Shakespeare Street was not in a proclaimed slum reclamation area and the Housing Commission had no interest, beyond ordering the demolition of what they considered to be an unfit dwelling on a substandard block of land.8,9

The cottages were demolished in January 1970 and, in keeping with Housing Commission practices at the time, the owners were billed for demolition and associated advertising costs. Furthermore, the terms of the demolition contract assigned the rights for salvageable building materials to the demolition contractor, so property owners were unable to sell building materials to recover their costs. On north side of the street, the two-storey house at the Drummond Street end (no. 8 at the time) was inspected by the Housing Commission in August 1970, but given a stay of demolition when the required repairs were completed.

In 1970, a hundred years after the land was first sold and subdivided, there was an open space in Shakespeare Street ripe for redevelopment. The vacant land became an illegal rubbish dump, while the new owner argued with the Melbourne City Council over the valuation of the land. Then local residents took action, at their own expense, by cleaning up the site and creating a mini park for the benefit and enjoyment of the whole community. In 1978, the Melbourne City Council entered into an agreement to purchase four house blocks (nos. 7 to 13) , with local residents contributing part of the cost. The Melbourne City Council acquired no. 15 in 1981 and, with changes to municipal boundaries, ownership of all five blocks was transferred to City of Yarra in 1995. Today, the mini park remains a tribute to the power of community action.10

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Shooting in Shakespeare Street
The Penny Dreadful

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