Fitzroy North

Fitzroy North, 4 km. north-east of Melbourne, is separated from Fitzroy (South) by Alexandra Parade. Its other boundaries adjoin Carlton North, Brunswick, Northcote and Clifton Hill.

It was laid out in the 1850s, by and large to a design developed by government survey staff in contrast to the under-dimensioned thoroughfares and allotments arising from private speculation and development south of Alexandra Parade. The design was fitted around the north-easterly thoroughfares of Queens Parade and St. Georges Road, the latter running over the Yan Yean water-supply pipe (1857). An unrealised suburban design from the government survey department was “Merriville”, but the name is acknowledged by the locality of Merri in Northcote, just over the border. The border is, in fact the Merri Creek.

Suburban allotments were not sold until the 1860s and 1870s. Near Merri is Rushall, the site of a housing development begun in 1869 by the Old Colonists’ Association. The idea of the Association and the houses seems to have been that of the theatrical entrepreneur, George Coppin, who was concerned about accommodation for elderly Port Phillip pioneers and for retired actors. The two hectare site has houses ranging from bluestone cottages to 1960s home units.

In the middle of Fitzroy North is Edinburgh Gardens, a circular site with a sports oval at its southern end. The oval was the home ground of the Fitzroy Football Club from its formation in 1883, entry to the Victorian Football League in 1897 until its departure from the oval in 1967. The Gardens had the Brunswick Street/St. Georges Road tram alongside (1887), and railway lines from Preston and Carlton North, which converged on a spur which ran through the Gardens. The railway line from Carlton North was part of the inner circle which became superfluous when radiating suburban lines were finally run through other inner suburbs to connect directly with central Melbourne.

Churches and schools were opened: St. Luke’s Church of England (1874), the Alfred Crescent primary school (1875) and St. Brigid’s Catholic church and school in Alexandra Parade (1880s). In 1891 the Merri primary school in the very north of the district was opened.

The tram in Nicholson Street, along the western boundary, was begun in 1887 and the service along Queens Parade in the same year. Shopping strips developed along the three tram lines, Nicholson Street, St. George’s Road and Queens Parade, the last one being the strongest and having the attraction of a plantation and service road protecting it from the main traffic.

In 1915 a central school was opened in Falconer Street, becoming a high school/secondary college in 1956 and changing in 1992 to a campus of the John Batman TAFE.

The inner-circle railway lines were kept for goods traffic, but in the 1980s and 1990s they were given over to linear parks. The spur line down to the former Fitzroy station has been treated in the same manner. The football club’s homeground became a community oval.

In 1987 the median house price in Fitzroy North was 14% above the median for metropolitan Melbourne and in 1996 it was 46% above the metropolitan median. Housing types in Fitzroy North are similar to those in Clifton Hill – mainly brick with a solid look about them – and their price levels and movements closely mirrored those in Clifton Hill.

Further Reading:

Barrett, Bernard, “The Inner Suburbs: The evolution of an industrial area”, Melbourne University Press, 1971.

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