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.


Hawthorn is a “middle-ring” residential suburb 6 km. east of Melbourne. Its surface rises immediately east of the Yarra River valley, and it has the Gardiners Creek on its south.

The municipality of Hawthorn (1860-1994) was bounded by the two river valleys, Burke Road on its east and Barkers Road on its north.

The Hawthorn township reserve was surveyed in 1837. It was immediately east of the Yarra River where Church Street meets Burwood Road. Farm-size allotments were also surveyed in Hawthorn in 1843 and sold during that decade. The township site is readily recognised by the Gothic Revival Christ Church (1853) and the Hawthorn primary school (1853) north of Burwood Road. On the south side of Burwood Road, on a knoll overlooking a bend in the Yarra River, is “Invergowrie” (1852), a homestead situated on land which was later subdivided by the theatrical entrepreneur, George Coppin, in 1871. It contains several houses on the register of the National Estate and is a Conservation Area.

Invergowrie was set in Burwood Park, the name given to Burwood Road which became the district’s main road out of Melbourne which had bridged the Yarra River (1851). Less clear is how Hawthorn was given its name. Early spellings had a “e” on the end, but that was dispensed with in the gazaettal of the municipal district in 1860. Hawthorn/e may have been named after a visitor who called on Hoddle, or settled on during a conversation between the owner of Burwood Park, James Palmer, and Governor LaTrobe, who thought that the native shrubs looked like flowering Hawthorn bushes. There was also a bluestone house “The Hawthorns” built in Creswick Street in 1843.

Hotels were opened along Burwood Road: the Hawthorne at Barton Street (1852), the Governor Hotham at William Street (1855) and the Tower at Camberwell Road (1876). After the railway was extended from Burnley to Hawthorn (1861) the Railway Hotel was opened nearby in 1869. In 1854 Hawthorn along with Kew and Camberwell, became the Boroondara Road District, and in 1860 Hawthorn became a separate municipality.

By 1865 Hawthorn’s population was about 3,000 persons. Its first town hall had been built and its landscape was populated with market gardens, residences of “persons engaged in Melbourne in business” and several brick fields. The first Presbyterian church in the Hawthorn area was built in Glenferrie Road in 1864, and several Hawthorn Presbyterian congregations resisted union with the Methodist church one hundred years later. The Hawthorn municipality has many large well-built churches, particularly in Glenferrie and Auburn where to this day they are the dominant shapes on the skyline. In terms of the municipality’s growth it was around Upper Hawthorn, now Glenferrie, where houses and shopping were attracted in the 1870s and 1880s. The railway was extended to these areas in 1882 and a horse tram service in 1890.

The middle-class attraction of Hawthorn was shown by its private schools. By 1890 when it became a city, it ranked with St. Kilda as the area with the most private schools per head of population. In 1903 The Australian Handbook described Hawthorn as –


In 1916 the Hawthorn Tramways Trust opened the electric tramline along Burwood Road, Power Street and Riversdale Road, replacing the horse tram. The Trust’s depot was at the corner where Power Street meets Riversdale Road, where the line was met by another Trust line from Princes Bridge from Melbourne, via Swan Street, Richmond. Hawthorn thus gained a second city to suburbs route, parallel to the railway line.

Burwood Road became a mixed retail and manufacturing thoroughfare. Factories included carriage builders, wood turning and furniture, clothing and, most famous of all, Fowlers home bottling factory and warehouse. The absence of a tramline would have discouraged shops rather than factories.

Slightly east of the Hawthorn railway station Grace Park was laid out in 1897. Ten years earlier a spur railway line was opened to Kew, running along the east side of Grace Park. It closed in 1957. On the other side of the line the Glenferrie oval became the home of the Hawthorn Football Club. The Club, founded in 1873,was in the Victorian Football Association until it joined the League in 1925. It transferred to the Princes Park oval, Carlton, as its home ground in 1974. Adjoining the oval is the Hawthorn baths. Tennis has been well provided for at the Grace Park Courts, producing champions such as Frank Sedgman, Mervyn Rose and Margaret Smith (later Court).

The Council was able to provide parks on several filled clay pits during the years before the second world war, although some pits were worked well into the postwar years.


Town Hall, Hawthorn, c.1912.
(Image courtesy Tony Davies, London, U.K.)

During the inter-war years Hawthorn municipality’s population grew from about 25,000 to about 40,000 persons. Entertainment and shopping tended to be around the Glenferrie Road area. Hawthorn central had its established homes, riverside parklands and a medium-sized shopping centre around the railway station. The Australian Blue Book, 1949, described the Hawthorn municipality as –


Despite the reference in the Blue Book to residences of a very superior class, the housing stock in Hawthorn west and central was old and contained many cottages in a run-down condition. The larger house were suitable for conversion to rental flats. The demolition of old residences for new flats became a local issue by the 1970s. By 1981 over 45% of Hawthorn’s housing stock was flats, compared with 26% in Kew. In contrast to many inner-urban cities Hawthorn’s postwar population decline was nearly arrested by the flats, falling by only a few thousand between 1947 and 1971. The loss of some prominent houses was obvious, such as at the corner of Glenferrie and Riversdale Roads where a service station was built, only to be replaced with a Chinese restaurant (1973) which failed and was replaced by an ice-cream outlet replete with pagoda decor. By way of contrast on an opposite corner was Melbourne’s longest running private lending library, run by two elderly ladies.

Despite the rapid growth of flats in Hawthorn there was a contrary trend to the preservation of many of the surviving larger homes. Internal subdividing walls were removed and flats were converted back into homes. Other large buildings were converted into more sensitively designed apartments. The boom in period real estate peaked in the late 1980s. An active preservation area was around St. James Park, adjoining Hawthorn’s original town site. Preservation extended to a quite costly refurbishment of the Hawthorn railway station buildings, some of which had been transferred many years before from the first Flinders Street station in central Melbourne.

St. James Park is one of several open spaces in Hawthorn, most of which are linear ones along the edge of the Yarra River.

In 1996 the median house price in Hawthorn was about $250,000, a shade more than twice the median for metropolitan Melbourne.

One 22 June, 1994, Hawthorn city was united with Camberwell and Kew cities to form Boroondara city. Hawthorn city included Auburn, Barker, Glenferrie and Hawthorn East.

The census populations of the Hawthorn municipality were 2,342 (1861), 6,019 (1881), 19,585 (1891), 40,464 (1947) and 30,006 (1991).

Further Reading:

McWilliam, Gwen, “Hawthorn Peppercorns”, Brain Atkins, Melbourne, 1978.

Peel, Victoria and others, “A History of Hawthorn”, Melbourne University Press in Association with the City of Hawthorn, 1993.


Richmond, 3 km. east of Melbourne, has been a residential, industrial and residential, and latterly a more residential, suburb. Its western boundary, Punt Road, adjoins Melbourne city and its eastern boundary is the Yarra River, across from leafy Hawthorn. The river curves around to form Richmond’s southern boundary, opposite South Yarra and Toorak. The northern boundary, Victoria Parade, adjoins Collingwood. Richmond was named after Richmond Hill, London. Like its London counterpart it has Kew close by.

Richmond has a prominent hill on its western boundary, known as Richmond Hill but also as Dockers Hill. It is surmounted by four church spires. The land falls away to the river in the east, to the Collingwood flat in the north and to the flat land of Burnley n the south.

Richmond was subdivided into allotments of about twelve hectares by the government surveyor, Robert Hoddle, in 1839. Most were purchased speculatively. Richmond Hill was occupied by Farquhar McCrae (surgeon, suburban speculator) and Joseph Docker. McCrae subdivided his land into smaller allotments in a couple of years, but Docker’s land, from Punt Road to Church Street, backing up to Richmond Terrace, was not all sold until the 1860s. He donated the land on which St. Stephens Anglican church was built.

The main easterly thoroughfare through Richmond was Bridge Road, which crossed the Yarra River to Hawthorn by a punt (1843), and later a bridge. A settlement named Yarraberg was formed, north of Bridge Road and east of Burnley Street, in 1853. It is one of Melbourne’s oldest industrial areas, although at the beginning it was a mixture of villas, tanneries and brickworks. David Mitchell, father of Nellie Melba, began a brickworks there in 1852.

By the mid 1850s Bridge Road had an established retail and service strip between Punt Road and Church Street. Swan Street was slightly less developed, but the Whitehorse Hotel’s outer structure (1849-55) still stands at 250-252 Swan Street.

In 1856 the entrepreneur George Coppin purchased the area known as Cremorne, forming Cremorne Gardens. When the railway entered Richmond two branches diverged from Richmond station on the west side: one went eastwards through Burnley to Hawthorn and the other through Cremorne to South Yarra. Cremorne later became industrialized, the premier landmark being the Rosella jam and sauce factory.

Three church primary schools were opened early in the 1850s: St. James Catholic school (1850) in Abinger Street, off Church Street; St. Stephens Anglican school (1851); and the Wesleyan school (1853), still standing at the rear of the Wesleyan church of the same year at 300 Church Street. Anglican and Presbyterian schools were opened at Cremorne in 1857 and 1862, and a National School in Lennox Street in 1858.

School football teams. Wesley College, c. 1908
(Image courtesy Tony Davies, London. U.K.)

Some notable citizens built in Richmond. Robert Hoddle’s “Millewa” and speculator William Highett’s “Yalcowinna” were incorporated in the Bethesda and Epworth Hospitals in Erin Street. George Coppin moved to Richmond Hill, next to James Henty (son of Portland pioneer, Thomas Henty), who built “Richmond Hill”. Both properties fell to the Pelaco shirt factory.

By 1865, when Richmond’s population was about 11,000 persons, it had bridges across the Yarra to Hawthorn and Prahran (at Church Street), and a private lunatic asylum on the former Cremorne Gardens. There were four tanneries, several quarries (Burnley), wool-washing establishment and forty hotels. The town hall had been built, Richmond having been made a municipality on 24 April, 1855. The Australian Handbook, 1875, described Richmond as –


During the 1870s and 1880s Richmond underwent industrialization and residential intensification, mainly in the form of workmen’s cottages. In the 1860s it was estimated that there were 4,000 Catholics in Richmond, and the completion of the St. Ignatius church gave Richmond its most prominent landmark. It also proclaimed the importance of Irish Catholic influence in Richmond’s municipal politics and parliamentary contests for the next eighty years.

Tram services were opened in Bridge Road and Victoria Street in 1885 and 1886. State primary schools were opened, four between 1874 and 1878, and two more (Richmond North and Burnley) in the next decade.

By the turn of the century Richmond gentility had retreated. The ill-drained southern area near the Yarra River was a haven for slum landlords’ pokey dwellings. The reality of impoverished householders contrasted with the standard descriptions of Richmond such as the one in The Australian Handbook in 1903 –


An exception to the picture of industrial servitude was the Bryant and May match factory (1909) in Church Street. By 1928 the factory provided its employees with dining and recreation rooms, tennis and basketball courts, gardens and a bowling green. Along with other large factories such as Bosisto’s eucalyptus and Hardings crumpets, Bryant and May also gave slap-up Christmas parties.

Smaller factories, however, were usually not so generous. Another landmark was the Wertheim piano factory in Bendigo Street, subsequently the Heinz tinned foods factory (1935) and the GTV9 television studio (1955).

Richmond’s premier retailing landmark is Dimmey’s store in Swan Street. Built in 1907, the clock tower and the copper ball on top (1908-16) are widely recognised. Despite business failure in the early 1990s through a costly merger with Forges of Footscray, the Dimmey’s name has been retained in the refloated drapery business.

Like its neighbour, Collingwood, Richmond Football Club has fiercely loyal supporters. The “eat ’em alive” club known as the tigers had won ten premierships by 1997. It joined the Victorian Football League in 1908.

The slum abolition movement completed its first project in 1941 when it built on the land which had been leased to John Wren for the Richmond Racecourse. Consisting mainly of clinker-brick duplexes the estate is between Bridge Road and the GTV9 building, and its street names commemorated Richmond councillors. A high-rise public housing project in north-west Richmond, between Church and Lennox Streets, was completed during the 1960s. It later became part of the housing area occupied by immigrants from South East Asia, which signalled the transformation of the Victoria Street shopping strip to a predominantly Vietnamese business area.

The Richmond Town Hall and surrounding areas have contained significant elements of social history and material culture. Until the 1980s the Town Hall area had the police station, a post office, Richmond baths and oval, a technical school (1926), a girls’ high school (1926) and a primary school (1875). The Town Hall was the scene of intense contests between the Labor and Democratic Labor parties, the scene of Labor-dominated municipal politics and it was the venue for meetings of trade unions. Family dynasties ruled the council and monopolized council seats, got friends and relatives council jobs, and were finally defeated by an enquiry into election rigging (1981). Reform-minded candidates contested municipal election after the Council had a spell under a State-appointed commissioner. Physically the area changed with the closure of the three schools near the town hall, but a nearby open-air Saturday morning street market continued, providing cheap fruit and vegetables for the locals.

Richmond High School was opened in 1920 in a silvan site beside the Yarra River, looking across to Hawthorn’s historic St. James precinct. The girls’ high school near the Town Hall was transferred to the high school, amidst much acrimony, and renamed the Melbourne Girls’ College. In 1982 Richmond had six State primary schools plus one in Yarra Park, next to its border. Ten years later there were three. One of the primary school sites, along with the second technical school, had been converted to a TAFE.

There are three Catholic schools. Two of them, St. Ignatius primary and The Vaucluse Convent secondary school for girls, are on Richmond Hill, adjoining the ecclesiastical neighbourhood which is a conservation area on the Register of the National Estate.

Between 1961 and 1991 the population of the Richmond municipality declined by about 11,000 persons to just under 23,000. Previously crowded family cottages were purchased by couples and a degree of gentrification entered Richmond. The change was reflected in house prices and the revitalization of shopping strips, particularly Bridge Road. Clothes-conscious young residents and bargain-conscious shoppers made Bridge Road the factory-seconds shopping capital of Australia. Eateries also traded well. Victoria Street scarcely had a non-Vietnamese shop sign, and attracted locals for food stuffs and others wanting a well-priced Vietnamese meal. Jesuit Publications, not out of place in Victoria Street in a Catholic Vietnamese community, began publishing an influential monthly in 1991, named after its back lane, Eureka Street.

Between 1986 and 1996 the median house price in Richmond went from 93% of the median for metropolitan Melbourne to 136%. This remarkable change, however, contrasted with the fact that 60% of Richmond’s children were in families on a welfare benefit or classed as working poor.

Richmond’s public open space is mostly in its southern and eastern areas. Its football club headquarters are in Yarra Park in neighbouring Melbourne. The eastern-area parklands are described under Burnley.

Richmond municipality’s census populations were 7,071 (1854), 23,405 (1881), 40,442 (1911), 35,213 (1954) and 22,789 (1991).

On 22 June, 1994, Richmond city was united with Collingwood and Fitzroy cities to form Yarra city.


Wertheim Piano Factory, Bendigo Street, Richmond, Later the GTV 9 Studio. Postcard dated 1912

Further Reading:

  • “Copping It Sweet, Shared Memories of Richmond”, City of Richmond, 1988.
  • McCalman, Janet, “Struggletown: Public and Private Life in Richmond 1900-1965”, Melbourne University Press, 1984.
  • O’Connor, John and Thurley, “Richmond Conservation Study, Commission of the City of Richmond”, 1985.
  • Stirling, Alfred, “Old Richmond, The Hawthorn Press”, 1979.