Carlton Community History Group

ABN 89 670 391 357

The Carlton Community History Group (CCHG) was established by a committed group of people interested in the history of Carlton, an inner suburb of Melbourne, Australia. CCHG was incorporated in 2007 and launched at the Carlton Library in 2008.

We invite you to explore this website, find out more about us, read our newsletter, share your recollections and participate in our meetings and activities.

Next Meeting

Time and Location
Date:Tuesday 2 May (note change of date and venue)
Time:7.30 pm
Location:Kathleen Syme Centre
Activities Room 1
Ground Floor
251 Faraday Street

This meeting features an illustrated talk by Felice Rocca on the laneways of Carlton. The full schedule of meetings is available on the meetings page.

Historic Walk

Presented by the Carlton Community History Group and Princes Hill Community Centre.
Bookings: phone: 9387 7740, or email:
Cost: $10

Melbourne General Cemetery Walk
Explore and learn about some of the interesting or notorious characters who are buried in the oldest and most historic of Melbourne's existing cemeteries.

Date:Saturday 6 May 2017
Time:10.00 am to 12.00 noon
Starts at:Princes Hill Community Centre, rear 270 Macpherson Street, Princes Hill

Carlton Cellars
Photo: CCHG
Scene of Robbery in 1917 (now Carlton Cellars)
Corner of Canning and Richardson Streets
North Carlton

A Sweet-Toothed Robbery in North Carlton

In February 1917, just before Valentine's Day, two thieves managed to dodge police bullets and make off with 2,800 pounds of sugar, 112 pounds of rice and 15 shillings in cash. The well-planned robbery took place around 3.30 am at William Drum's licensed grocery store, on the corner of Richardson and Canning Streets, North Carlton. The two men had loaded up their horse-drawn cart and were about to make their exit when they were challenged by Constable Simon McKenzie, on patrol from the North Carlton Police Station and armed with a revolver. The horse and cart took off and Constable Simon McKenzie fired 3 shots at the horse, which would have been the 1917 equivalent of shooting out the car tyres. But the bullets missed their mark, as did the remaining 5 shots aimed at the cart driver. The thieves got away with their haul, valued at about £40 and most likely destined for the re-sale market. A search of Mr Drum's premises revealed that two locks on the front door had been forced open and the arc light in front of the store had been disabled. Surprisingly, two demijohns of whisky, valued at £10 each, were left behind in the shop.

Spare a thought for Constable McKenzie - instead of being hailed the hero of a thwarted robbery attempt, he probably copped a ribbing from his fellow police officers because he couldn't even shoot a horse and cart.

For more information on crime in Carlton, see our latest newsletter or visit our crime page.

100 Years Ago in Carlton
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.

Read more news items from Carlton 100 years ago

A Fruitful Business

St Clements the greengrocer closed on 26 February 2017, after five years of supplying fruit and vegetables to North Carlton residents. St Clements was the latest in a long line of greengrocers that have occupied the shop at 384 Rathdowne Street since the 1930s, with the exception of a few years from the late 1940s when it was a wholesale hardware business. Longer term residents will remember the Tucci family, who operated the greengrocer's business from the mid 1950s through to the 1990s. The purchase of fruit and vegetables was often accompanied by an impromptu Italian lesson, courtesy of Francesca and Paolo. They retained ownership of the building after their retirement and the business was continued by a succession of greengrocers until 2017. Paolo died in April 1993 and Francesca in June 2016, at the age of 90 years. Both were buried in Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton.

The shop building was sold in late 2016 and 384 Rathdowne Street is awaiting its new occupant in 2017.

Tucci family
Image: Courtesy of Tucci Family
The Tucci Family in the 1960s

The Samovar Travels On

The Travelling Samovar closed in late 2016 and the former tea house entered the next phase of its history as the café Extension of Time, opened in February 2017. The new café retains a link with the Travelling Samovar and has a small selection of Samovar teas available.

The two-storey building at 412 Rathdowne Street, North Carlton, which dates back to the 1890s, was a tobacconist shop for sixty years. None of the subsequent business occupants - pastrycook, confectioner, milk bar, picture framer, noodle shop, café or tea house - can rival the tobacconist in terms of longevity. Read more about the tobacconist shop that became a tea house.

A Hole in Her Stocking

Who would have thought that waiting for her friend to change her stocking could have made such a difference? "Bea" (not her real name) was born in 1924 and grew up in Carlton. In a series of interviews recorded by CCHG in January and February 2010, Bea recalled the ups and downs of her childhood and how the experiences shaped her life.

Read Bea's story and find out about the hole in her friend's stocking.

Demolished wall and fireplace
Photo: CCHG
An upstairs fireplace and surrounding brickwork is all that remains of the original Carlton Inn Hotel

Another One Bites the Dust

One of Carlton's earliest extant hotel buildings, on the corner of Leicester and Pelham Streets, was demolished illegally over the weekend of 16 and 17 October 2016. The Corkman Irish Pub, which was subject to a heritage overlay, was reduced to rubble, despite a stop-work order being issued by the Melbourne City Council. The hotel was originally built as the Carlton Inn and first licensed to George Edmonds (Edmunds) in 1856. Over the next one hundred and sixty years, the hotel served many glasses of beer and played host to generations of university student pub crawls.

At the time the Carlton Inn was built, the area north of Victoria Street, including Carlton and parts of North Melbourne, was not subject to the provisions of the Melbourne Building Act (1849). Buildings could be constructed and demolished without permits and this contributed to the somewhat haphazard development of Carlton in its early days. Nowadays, there is a rigorous system of planning, building and demolition permits in place, but this was not enough to save the Corkman Irish Pub, which will be sadly missed.

Notes and References:
An Act for Regulating Buildings and Party Walls and for Preventing Mischiefs by Fire in the City of Melbourne, 12 October 1849 (Melbourne Building Act, 1849)
The Age, 7 May 1856, p. 2
Melbourne Planning Scheme. City North Heritage Review, 2013 (Revised June 2015)

100 Years of Electric Trams in Lygon Street

On the last day of October each year, children, some dressed in ghoulish costumes, take to the streets and celebrate the time-honoured tradition of Halloween. In 2016, local residents had even more reason to celebrate, as 31 October marked the centenary of the first electric tram service along Lygon Street. Lygon Street originally had a cable tram service, dating back to December 1887, as far as Elgin Street, but passengers wishing to travel further north had to offload and catch a horse-drawn omnibus. Nicholson Street and Rathdowne Street had cable trams north of Elgin Street, so why should Lygon Street have a "an antiquated bus service which is believed to be identical with the one that conveys visitors to the Ark up to the top of Mount Ararat?" 1

The impetus for an electric tram service came from the northern suburbs of Brunswick and Coburg, which had grown in population in recent years, creating a demand for improved transport. At a meeting of the Brunswick Council on Monday 13 June 1910, Mr R. Kyrle, Secretary of the North Brunswick Progress Association, proposed a scheme of running an electric tram line along Lygon Street and Holmes Street to the Coburg Cemetery. This was taken up by the East Brunswick Tramway League in February 1911 and followed up by a series of meetings with residents and ratepayers of Brunswick, Coburg and North Carlton later in the year. The proposal received enthusiastic support, but its successful implementation was dependent on co-operation and cost-sharing between the three municipalities of Brunswick, Coburg and Melbourne (representing Carlton and North Carlton). There was a precedent for this scenario in the Prahran & Malvern Tramways Trust, which had operated electric tram services from May 1910 and was now returning a profit. The proposed Lygon Street line would be about 4½ miles (7¼ km) long from Elgin Street, Carlton to Coburg, at an estimated total cost of £80,000, compared to the Prahran & Malvern Tramways Trust cost of £90,000. The cost-effectiveness of running trams from Elgin Street to Park Street was questioned because the section between Princes and Macpherson Streets was occupied on the western side by the Melbourne General Cemetery, whose residents had no further need of transport. An alternative route of running electric trams down Park Street to connect with the Rathdowne Street and Nicholson Street cable tram routes was considered and rejected, as it would it would be of no benefit to the residents of Princes Hill (North Carlton) and would contribute to overcrowding on the existing cable tram lines. Eventually, the tram routes and administrative arrangements were sorted out, but Lygon Street had to wait another five years for its electric tram service. 2,3,4,5,6,7

In February 1914, the Brunswick & Coburg Tramways Trust was established to construct and operate an electric tramway from North Carlton to Brunswick and Coburg. Later that year, in October 1914, the Trust was re-constituted as the Melbourne, Brunswick & Coburg Tramways Trust, reflecting Melbourne City Council's involvement. The much-anticipated Lygon Street electric tram service was opened in two stages in 1916, with an extension of the Coburg line from Moreland Road to Park Street via Lygon Street opened on 14 August, and a further extension from Park Street to Queensberry Street, via Lygon Street, Elgin Street and Madeline (Swanston) Street on 31 October. Residents of Carlton and North Carlton had a preview of the tram service the day before, when members of the Trust went on a trial run before the official opening. On the afternoon of Tuesday 31 October 1916, under threat of a storm typical of Melbourne's spring weather, six electric trams, officials and curious onlookers assembled at the corner of Madeline and Queensberry Streets. Care was taken to ensure that all parties were represented in the ceremony and the ladies, no doubt, had some assistance from tramways staff. After introductory speeches, Lady Hennessey, wife of Melbourne Lord Mayor David Hennessey, cut the blue ribbon spanning the track and proceeded to drive the leading tram, followed by Mrs Reynolds, wife of the Chairman of the Tramways Trust, driving the second tram. The tram procession continued along Madeline, Elgin and Lygon Streets to Park Street, where a second ribbon cutting ceremony took place. Mrs Phillips, Mayoress of Brunswick, took charge of the leading tram and travelled through Brunswick to Moreland Road, the boundary line between Brunswick and Coburg. Mrs Richards, Mayoress of Coburg, then cut another blue ribbon and took over for the final leg of the journey to Bakers Road, Coburg. 8,9

Unlike cable trams, which were drawn along by a continuous below-ground cable, electric trams were powered by electricity via a network of overhead wires. Any interruption to the power supply, whether from a substation outage, damage to overhead wires or loss of connection between the trolley pole and the wires, brought the tram to a stop. A tram taking a corner at speed could lose its trolley pole connection and another could get stuck at a "cut off" point, which marked the change from one power supply to another. Electric trams could travel at a higher speed than the old cable trams and they had a different braking system. There was a spectacular incident in Carlton in July 1925, when the dynamo of an electric tram fused, disabling the air brakes and sending the tram hurtling along Lygon Street at a speed of thirty miles an hour. The tram continued out of control up Elgin Street to Madeline Street, where the driver was finally able to apply the emergency brakes and bring the vehicle to a shuddering stop. Neither the driver, nor the passengers on board, were injured, but the incident was a cautionary tale of the immense power of an electric tram, compared to a cable tram or horse drawn omnibus. 10

In the first twelve months of operation, the Lygon Street tram service had the dubious honour of a suicide. On the afternoon of 7 June 1917, Hector Henry Porter, aged 63 years, was seen wandering across the tram tracks in Lygon Street, North Carlton, near Paterson Street. He stepped in front of a city-bound tram, in what appeared to be a deliberate act of suicide, and suffered fatal injuries. At the inquest held a week later, the coroner Robert Hodgson Cole found that Porter died by his own act and had shown signs of mental unsoundness at the time. He cleared the tram driver, Ernest William Hoare, of any blame for the death. A few years later, in February 1920, a cyclist died in a shocking accident in Lygon Street near Curtain Street, North Carlton. The cyclist was riding along the tram tracks when he was first hit by a city-bound tram, which then propelled him into the path of another tram travelling north. The man, thought to be named Harvey, was identified only by a numbered Wharf Laborers' Union badge he was wearing. 11,12

The Lygon Street tram service remained under the control of the Melbourne, Brunswick & Coburg Tramways Trust for five years only until the end of 1919. In November of that year, the Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) was established to operate the entire tram system in Melbourne. The Melbourne, Brunswick & Coburg Tramways Trust, along with four other municipal tramways and the private Northcote cable line, came under the control of MMTB on 2 February 1920. The decision was not popular amongst some local council officials, who considered they were better placed to operate their own tram services. The Board's original plan to replace existing cable and horse drawn services with electric trams proved to be unachievable on such a large scale. The cable tram network had reached the end of its useful life and was progressively shut down, with some routes converted to electric traction and others replaced by motor buses. This was the fate of the North Carlton route along Rathdowne Street, closed in August 1936, and the Carlton route along Lygon and Elgin Streets in April 1939. The Nicholson Street route was closed in October 1940 and temporarily replaced by motor buses, but services to East Brunswick were later restored with electric trams in 1956. 13,14,15,16,17

The Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board continued until 1983, when an integrated tram, rail and bus network was created under the control of the Metropolitan Transit Authority. For the first time ever, the travelling public could transfer from one service to another on the same ticketing system. The 1990s saw major political and administrative changes, with the privatisation of public transport and other state-owned utilities. In a short-lived (some might say ill-fated) move, tram services were split between two independent operators, Swanston Trams and Yarra Trams, in August 1999. This arrangement proved unsustainable, as Swanston Trams (re-branded as M>Tram) failed to meet its performance targets and withdrew from the contract in December 2002. Yarra Trams assumed control of the entire tram network in April 2004 and continues to operate services to this day. Trams have become larger and more complex in operation, but the basic tram infrastructure of metal tracks and overhead wires is essentially the same as it was on that spring day in 1916, when the first electric tram travelled along Lygon Street.18

Notes and References:
1 Coburg Leader, 17 February 1911, p. 1
2 Coburg Leader, 17 June 1910, p. 4
3 Reuben Kyrle (Keirl) was a colourful character. In April 1906, he appeared in Carlton Court as defendant in a maintenance case involving his wife Elizabeth and in 1915 he was "deported" from Tasmania for impersonating a transport officer.
4 Coburg Leader, 17 February 1911, p. 1
5 Coburg Leader, 21 July 1911, p. 4
6 Coburg Leader, 1 September 1911, p. 4
7 Coburg Leader, 15 September 1911, p. 4
8 A brief history of the Melbourne, Brunswick and Coburg Tramways Trust. Tramways Publications, 1999, p. 1
9 Brunswick and Coburg Leader, 3 November 1916, p. 2
10 The Age, 17 July 1925, p. 13
11 Inquest 1917/482, 14 June 1917
12 The Age, 25 February 1920, p. 10
13 The Argus, 28 October 1919, p. 6
14 The Argus, 3 August 1936, p. 8
15 The Argus, 18 April 1939, p. 11
16 The Argus, 28 October 1940, p. 2
17 The Argus, 6 April 1956, p. 5
18 Yarra Trams Website

Old Colonial Bank Building
Photo: CCHG
Former Bank Building
Corner of Elgin and Rathdowne Streets Carlton
(Now occupied by Prinzi Collections)

Notes and References:
1 Elgin Scrap Metals Pty Ltd owned the corner site from 1980 to 1984, when ownership was transferred to Mordcha Pty Ltd.
2 Bank branch locations sourced from advertisements in Sands and McDougall.
3 The Argus, 24 March 1884, p. 15
4 Australian Architectural Index, record no. 78821
5 The National Bank of Australasia was established in 1858, two years after the Colonial Bank of Australasia.
6 Geoffrey Blainey and Geoffrey Hutton. Gold and paper 1858-1982 : A history of the National Bank of Australasia, Macmillan, 1983. p. 184
7 ibid, p. 322

The Last Bank in Elgin Street

Bank branch closures are all too common in the era of internet banking, but for the National Australia Bank in Carlton, it was a case of "one branch closes and another opens." The Carlton branch at 129 Elgin Street closed its doors on Friday 12 August 2016 and re-opened at 288 Lygon Street on Wednesday 17 August. The branch had occupied the single-storey building on the south west Rathdowne Street corner site, next to Elgin Scrap Metals, since 1984. But the bank's history in Carlton goes back another hundred years. 1

The Colonial Bank of Australasia was established in 1856 and by 1884 it had fifty branches in town and country Victoria. In March 1884, a small advertisement appeared in The Argus inviting tenders for the erection of a new Colonial Bank of Australasia at Carlton. The following month, a notice of intent was lodged with Melbourne City Council to construct a bank building on the north west corner of Rathdowne and Elgin Streets (later numbered 126 Elgin Street). The bank was designed by architects Smith & Johnson and built by Alex Kemp of Rathdowne Street, North Carlton. There were branches of the Bank of Victoria, Commercial Bank of Australia, London Chartered Bank, and Savings Bank of Victoria already established in Carlton, but the economy was booming in the 1880s and increased competition was considered good for business. A few years later, the Colonial Bank of Australasia survived the depression of the 1890s, while many other banks and financial institutions went to the wall. 2,3,4

The final phase of the Colonial Bank of Australasia's life came in the immediate post-World War 1 period. The Colonial Bank of Australasia merged with the larger National Bank of Australasia, in what was regarded as a positive business move at the time. On 25 November 1918, the Colonial Bank of Australasia went into liquidation and its staff, accounts and premises were transferred to the National Bank of Australasia. The stationery and signage at the Carlton branch was changed and the bank continued to operate at the Rathdowne Street corner site until the 1980s. 5,6

The 1980s saw major changes, with government deregulation of the banking and finance sector. The National Bank of Australasia merged with the Commercial Banking Company in 1982 to become the National Australia Bank. The Carlton branch at 126 Elgin Street moved across the street to the newly-constructed building at 129 Elgin Street in 1984, and remained there until its closure in 2016. While the National Australia Bank still has a branch in the Lygon Street tourist precinct, Elgin Street has, regrettably, lost its last bank. 7

Lincoln Square Carlton
Photo: CCHG
Play Area at Lincoln Square Carlton

Fun and Games at Lincoln Square

Lincoln Square, in Swanston Street Carlton, has seen it all. This leafy green space close to the CBD, site of a Bali Memorial and reserved for public use since 1853, has survived attempted road incursions, locked gates, gang warfare, a gruesome murder and a recent take-over by skateboarders.

Find out more about the history of this significant public space.

Cable Tram Engine House in Rathdowne Street
Photo: CCHG
Former Cable Tram Engine House
Corner of Rathdowne and Park Streets North Carlton

Median Strip in Rathdowne Street
Photo: CCHG
Site of Former North Carlton Cable Tram Route
Rathdowne Street North Carlton

Notes and References:
1 John Keating. Mind the Curve. Transit Australia Publishing, Rev. ed., 1972, p. 137
2 The Carlton cable tram route (also known as Johnston Street Bridge) travelled via Lygon, Elgin and Johnston Streets and terminated at Abbotsford. The North Carlton route followed the Carlton route to Rathdowne Street, then travelled north to Park Street. Lygon Street north of Elgin Street was not part of the cable tram network.
3 The Advocate, 18 June 1887, p. 19
4 The Age, 25 April 1888, p. 5
5 The Age, 21 July 1890, p. 6
6 The Age, 20 July 1928, p. 15
7 The Argus, 27 April 1914, p. 11
8 The Age, 9 December 1890, p. 6
9 The Age, 7 July 1924, p. 10
10 The Age, 15 April 1919, p. 6
11 Yarra Trams Website
12 The Argus, 3 August 1936, p. 8
13 The Argus, 18 April 1939, p. 11
14 The Age, 16 May 2016
15 The Age, 13 July 2016

The Perils of Tram Travel

August 2016 marks the 80th anniversary of the last cable tram to run along Rathdowne Street, North Carlton. The North Carlton route from Elgin Street to Park Street, opened on 9 February 1889, was a relative latecomer to Melbourne's cable tram network. Melbourne commenced its first cable tram service to Richmond in 1885, and services along Nicholson Street to Park Street, and Carlton via Lygon and Elgin Streets were introduced on 30 August and 21 December 1887. Lygon Street north of Elgin Street was not part of the cable tram network and had to wait until October 1916 for an electric tram service. 1,2

Cable trams revolutionalised public transport and enabled large numbers of passengers to travel at an affordable cost. But, like any innovation, tram travel was not without its problems. Road users people crossing the street, children at play, cyclists, hand carts and horse drawn vehicles had to make way for a larger and more powerful beast. Inevitably, there were accidents, some fatal, and The Advocate reported in June 1887: "By tram accidents no less than six persons have lost their lives and twenty-three been injured in less than two years." 3

Carlton had its fair share of mishaps on the streets serviced by cable trams. Carlton's first tram fatality occurred on the evening of 24 April 1888, when a nine year old boy named Thomas Stewart was caught underneath a dummy car in Lygon Street. The boy, who lived with his parents in Union Place, Carlton, died soon after arrival at Melbourne Hospital. Children were, unfortunately, often casualties of tram accidents. Two young children playing in Lygon Street were injured in July 1890. They had moved out of the way to avoid an oncoming tram, but were hit by another travelling in the opposite direction. In October 1927, Victor Stobaus, aged seven years, had his foot badly crushed when it was caught under the wheel of a tram in Rathdowne Street near Newry Street. The foot was later amputated, but young Victor's disability not prevent him from becoming a talented footballer in the Melbourne Boys' League. Victor's father, Robert Stobaus, made an unsuccessful claim for £499 damages against the Tramways Board in the County Court in July 1928. 4,5,6

Saturday 25 April 1914 was a particularly bad day for tram accidents in Carlton. In the morning, Walter England, a clerk at the Carlton Court, fell from a moving tram on the corner of Lygon and Drummond streets, and was dragged some distance along the road. Mr. England suffered injuries to his ribs and hip and was admitted to the Melbourne Hospital for treatment. That afternoon, a more serious accident took place near the corner of Grattan and Lygon Streets. John Griffiths, a 26 year old tutor at the University High School, was crossing the road behind a north-bound tram when he was struck by another tram travelling towards the city. Mr. Griffiths was pinned beneath the dummy of the tram, which had to be lifted off the rails before he could be extricated. He was taken to the Melbourne Hospital, suffering from a compound fracture of the leg, extensive abrasions, and shock. 7

Tram passengers were also at risk in the old open-style tram cars. Sarah Dicker, a young woman who worked at Mrs Garland's fancy goods shop in Drummond Street, had a fainting fit and fell from a tram onto the road in Elgin Street in December 1890. She suffered head and facial injuries. Charles W. Jonah, aged 76, of Union Place, Carlton failed to heed the tram gripman's warning of "mind the curve" and fell from a tram as it turned the corner from Rathdown Street into Elgin Street in July 1924. Mr Jonah was admitted to hospital and discharged after treatment. 8,9

Of all the tram accidents reported, possibly the most tragic occurred in April 1919, while a tram car was being shunted at the sheds in Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy. Tram gripman Victor Cocking, who lived nearby in Canning Street, North Carlton, was entering Nicholson Street from Mary Street when he saw a child fall off the back of a dummy car. He rushed across Nicholson Street but he did not know, until he picked up the child's body, that it was his own son, John Cocking. The boy, aged six years, died later that evening in the Children's Hospital. 10

Cable trams had their heyday in the 19th century, but lasted only a few decades into the 20th century. The cable tram network was phased out from the 1920s through to 1940 in favour of electric trams, which promised a more efficient service and better carrying capacity. Lygon Street already had an electric tram service, dating back to 1916, north of Elgin Street. The Carlton, North Carlton and Nicholson Street cable tram routes were replaced with motor buses. When the North Carlton route closed on 2 August 1936, both the tram car and crew were besieged by souvenir hunters, seeking a piece of memorabilia. Three years later, when the Carlton route closed in April 1939, the Tramways Board foiled an alleged plot by hoodlums to seize the last tram and push it into the Yarra River. They had learnt from previous acts of vandalism and employed the simple strategy of substituting motor buses on the last night of service. Melbourne's last cable tram ride was from Bourke Street in the city to Northcote on the evening of 26 October 1940. Services via Nicholson Street to East Brunswick were later restored with electric trams in 1956. 11,12,13

Melbourne's electric tram network, one of the largest in the world, survived threats of closure in the mid-20th century and has continued to grow into the 21st century. The dangerous days when tram passengers travelled on running boards, or by hanging out of open doorways, have gone and many safety features have been incorporated into modern tram design. But accidents can still happen. In May 2016, a tram was derailed and crashed into a house in High Street, Kew, when a car travelling in the opposite direction strayed onto the tram tracks. Two months later in July 2016, a horse drawing a tourist carriage crashed its head through the driver's window of a tram in Swanston Street in the city. As expected, the horse came off second best to the larger and more powerful beast, but was not seriously injured. 14,15

Related Item: The Cable Trams of Rathdowne Street

Intercolonial Handball Match
Image: State Library of Victoria
Intercolonial Handball Match
Sydney 1875

Former Loughrea Hotel
Image: CCHG
Former Loughrea Hotel
75 Elgin Street Carlton

Former Handball Court
Image: CCHG
Side Wall of Former Handball Court
22 to 24 Macarthur Place Carlton

Notes and References:
1 Evening News, 3 December 1973, p. 2
2 The Age, 24 May 1869, p. 3
3 The Argus, 16 January 1874, p. 5
4 The Advocate, 17 January 1874, p. 9
5 The Argus, 20 January 1874, p. 4
6 The Argus, 23 January 1874, p. 5
7 The Age, 28 January, p. 3
8 The Tasmanian, 7 February 1874, p. 11
9 The Advocate, 18 December 1874, p. 15
10 The Argus, 1 March 1875, p. 5
11 The Age, 3 June 1882, p. 6
12 The Age, 24 October 1905, p. 10
13 Index to Defunct Hotel Licences (VPRS 8159)
14 Land title records
15 Building Application Index (Melbourne City Council)

For Honour or Money

In November 1873, Victoria issued a sporting challenge to New South Wales to play Australia's first intercolonial handball match. New South Wales accepted the challenge "for either money or honour" but, in the spirit of sportsmanship, they agreed to play for honour only. The New South Wales contingent favoured their home town of Sydney for the inaugral match during the Christmas holiday period. However, Victoria won the first round by declaring that Melbourne would be a popular sporting destination at that time, owing to the visit of the All England Eleven, and the New Year's racing. 1

With the city decided, a suitable playing venue had to be found. There was a handball court in King Street, Melbourne, but Carlton, just out of the city, offered an alternative venue. The Carlton handball court, at the rear of the Loughrea (Lough Rea) Hotel in Elgin Street and backing onto Macarthur Place, was built by publicans Peter Taylor and John Curtain. The court was opened officially in May 1869 and was well patronised for both handball and racquet games. As publican of the Loughrea Hotel, Mr Taylor was able to provide a ready supply of drinks to slake the thirst of players and spectators alike. He was also credited with fostering the sport of handball, introduced into Australia by Irish immigrants in the nineteenth century. 2

The first day of play took place on Thursday 15 January 1874 and was attended by a crowd of 250 enthusiastic spectators. Hot weather conditions were trying for both players and spectators, and The Argus commented: "The game is essentially a manly one, and no one with flaccid muscles or short wind can by any possibility ever hope to shine at it." Over the next three hours, the crowd was treated to a series of nine double-handed games, contested by brothers John and James Doyle for Victoria and Messrs. Dillon and Thompson for New South Wales. New South Wales was declared the winner in five out of the nine games, but it was noted that the Victorian players scored 141 points, to the New South Wales players' 137. On the second day of play, Mr Dillon, representing New South Wales, took on Victoria's James Doyle in a series of single-handed matches. Dillon triumphed and things were looking grim for Victoria. 3,4

The final day of play dawned on Monday 19 January 1874 and the Victorian team had one last chance to show their prowess in a series of three-handed games. Prior to the main event, the crowd was kept entertained by a scratch match featuring John Curtain, M.L.A, who "showed that he was no mean player." The atmosphere was electric as the players entered the court - the Doyle brothers and Mr McNamara for Victoria and Messrs. Thomson, Dillon and Gaffney for New South Wales. McNamara proved to be an asset for Victoria, while Gaffney was considered the weak point for New South Wales. Victoria succeeded in winning five games outright and was declared the winner. In the end, New South Wales won the overall competition, but Victoria won the day. 5

Intercolonial rivalry aside, the post-competition mood was good natured and the New South Wales players were treated to a dinner, courtesy of the Hon. Michael O'Grady, at the Manchester Unity Hall in Swanston Street. By special arrangement with John Curtain, M.L.A, and the Minister of Railways, the players were granted free rail travel on government lines within Victoria. On the day of their departure for Sydney via the steamer Wentworth, 27 January 1974, the players had a champagne luncheon and were driven to Sandridge (Port Melbourne) in a drag and pair of greys. The farewell party included John Curtain, members of the Victorian Intercolonial Committee and several of Victoria's leading handball players, all of whom wished the visitors bon voyage and looked forward to meeting them again next year. 6,7,8

In December 1874, while plans were being finalised for the return intercolonial handball match in Sydney, a telegram from Port Darwin announced the death of Peter Taylor. When the news was later relayed to the Carlton handball court, the matches scheduled for that day were cancelled and the court was closed as a mark of respect for the man who had done so much to establish handball as a permanent fixture on Melbourne's sporting calendar. In February 1875, the Victorian team won easily against New South Wales over three days of competition. No doubt Peter Taylor would have been proud of their achievement. 9,10

The intercolonial handball match became a regular sporting event, alternating between Melbourne and Sydney, through to the 1890s. As the sport's popularity increased, handball clubs cropped up in Melbourne suburbs and country towns. Carlton established its own handball club in June 1882, under the patronage of John Curtain. Curtain, co-founder of the Carlton handball court, died in 1905. 11,12

The Loughrea Hotel at 75 Elgin Street was delicensed in 1919 and this also marked the end of the Carlton handball court. The owner, Victoria Brewery Pty Ltd, had no further business interest in a hotel without a liquor licence and it was sold in 1920. The handball court was converted into a brick factory facing Macarthur Place, then subdivided from the old hotel site in 1950. In 1970, the factory building at 22 to 24 Macarthur Place was bought by architect John Mockridge and was granted a new lease of life. The brick factory was gutted, an extra storey was added and a new residence was built within the shell of the old building. The original brickwork has been uncovered in recent years and evidence of its earlier function can be seen from the Macarthur Street frontage and side laneway. 13,14,15

For more information on sport and recreation in Carlton, read our latest newsletter.

More information on John Curtain.

Tree Removal in Canning Street
Photo: CCHG
Tree Removal in Canning Street North Carlton
June 2016

A silent protest
Photo: CCHG
A Silent Protest

Notes and References:
1 Arboricultural Assessment. Location: Canning Street and Drummond Street Carlton North. Ref.: 2145.AA.3, 16 February 2016
2 Gippsland Times, 8 February 1937, p. 3
3 The Age, 24 February 1937, p. 12

The Poplars of Canning Street

Carlton is blessed with many street trees, the most notable plantings being in Canning, Drummond and Rathdowne Streets. The poplar trees in Canning Street, North Carlton, were planted in the median strip over fifty years ago and are now reaching the end of their lifespan. In November 2015, two large trees came down near the North Carlton Primary School and crashed onto parked cars. Fortunately there were no injuries, but there was significant property damage and the risk of future tree incidents. As a result, City of Yarra commissioned a study to assess the condition of all poplar trees in Canning and Drummond Streets. The study recommended removal of selected trees in both streets and works commenced in June 2016. The median strip trees will be replaced with new plantings in spring 2016, thus continuing nature's cycle of growth, decline and renewal.1

Back in 1937, Carlton's attitude towards street trees was very different. The Melbourne City Council proposed a plantation in the centre of Rathdowne Street, as part of a tree planting scheme to commemorate the coronation of King George VI. The Council's ambitious scheme to plant a total of 5,000 trees within the municipality, at a cost of £20,000 over several years, met with strong resistance from the ratepayers of Victoria Ward. A door-to-door survey of shops and businesses in Rathdowne Street revealed 87 against and only 3 in favour of the proposed plantation. Anti-tree sentiment was running high, with some residents stating they would cut down any trees planted. The main reasons for objection were that a tree plantation would detract from the commercial appearance and character of the street, and would be a hindrance to vehicular traffic, which had increased since motor buses replaced the old cable trams in 1936. Business interests and traffic ruled in 1937 and the plantation proposal was abandoned.2,3

Rathdowne Street had to wait another four decades for its plantation, implemented in almost opposite circumstances. The controversial eastern freeway opened in 1977, amidst protests from Council, local businesses and residents alike. Rathdowne Street had become a feeder road for the freeway, via Princes Street, and Council proposed a median strip to slow down traffic and improve local amenity. This proposal was successful and, decades later, the median strip of mature trees contributes to Rathdowne Street's unique character and continues to be an asset, rather than a hindrance, to local businesses and residents.

Related Items:
Rathdowne Street
Where Palm Trees Once Grew

Tony Does Carlton

The Carlton episode of Tony Robinson's Time Walks was broadcast on ABC 1 on Friday 20 May 2016. Naturally he covers the Trades Hall and the Eight Hour Memorial. But if his points of focus are predictable, his treatment of them is not necessarily so.

The Exhibition Building? Check! But instead of dwelling on the architectural wonders, he describes the unpleasant state of the grounds in the early days and recounts a nineteenth century academic scrap over the palaeontology collection housed in the basement. Italians? Of course, but after we see a venerable espresso machine and hear Nino Borsari's son tell his father's story, a visit to Dorrit Street deftly combines the stories of Carlton's early Italian migrants, who arrived about 1890, the Viggianese street musicians, and that of Jean Lee, the last woman to be hanged in Australia. Her story is the only reference to the seamier side of Carlton's history, something of an imbalance perhaps. The program moves on to La Mama and an extended segment explores the flavour and political influence of one production from this long-running and hugely influential Carlton institution.

Inevitably in such a short program there are omissions. There is no coverage of the Jewish presence in Carlton. We see the grand terraces of Drummond Street, but learn nothing of their decline into boarding houses in the early twentieth century or of the gradual gentrification of Carlton as a whole from the 1970s.

Related items:
The Trades Hall : Part of Our History
Murder at Mallow House
Betty Burstall (Founder of La Mama)

Letters from the Great War

There are two poignant letters in the military record of Sergeant John Justin Leichardt Katterns. Correspondence is common in soldiers' files but it almost always comes from, or is addressed to, the military authorities. The Katterns' letters are unusual because one was written by the soldier to his mother while he was serving in Egypt in 1915, the other by his mother to a friend in Carlton.

More information on Sergeant Katterns

S.T. Nunquam
Image source: CCHG
Former Confectionery Factory of S.T. Nunquam
413-415 Nicholson Street North Carlton

Notes and References:
1 Australian Architectural Index
2 Building occupancy information sourced from Sands & McDougall directory listings and Melbourne City Council rate books
3 Melbourne City Council building application plans and files, BA 2890, 1920 (VPRS 11200 and VPRS 11201)
4 Building ownership information sourced from land title records
5 Carlton, North Carlton & Princes Hill Conservation Study, 1984
6 Biographical information sourced from birth, death and marriage records
7 City of Yarra, Planning application no. 991221, 1999

The Smell of Peppermint in the Morning

For many decades, residents of North Carlton woke to the smell of peppermint emanating from a confectionery factory in Nicholson Street. The two-storey, red brick building on the corner of Newry Street was built by T.E. Mathews for Stanislav Techitch Nunquam, manufacturing confectioner, 100 years ago in 1916.1

Nunquam's factory was not the first manufacturing facility to operate at the corner site. Russell & Sons, manufacturing confectioners, were there from 1909, and Johnston Brothers, furniture manufacturers, prior to that date. The earlier building was described as "brick factory and stabling" in council rate books. There were two cottages (nos. 417 and 419) on the northern boundary and these were later separately acquired for expansion of the business. In August 1920, a building application was lodged for a multitubular boiler and chimney stack, designed by C.S. Mears, a furnace builder of Tilson Street, Ascot Vale. The work was completed within two months, in the backyard of the cottage at 417 Nicholson Street.2,3

In 1955, when Stanislav Nunquam was 73 years old, ownership of the factory building and adjacent cottage (no. 417) was transferred from S.T. Nunquam Pty Ltd to Nunquam Pty Ltd. The change of business name can be seen in later photographs, with the lettering "S.T." painted out on the Nicholson Street façade. Stanislav died in 1966, aged 84 years, and his remains were cremated at Springvale Cemetery on 25 November 1966. His widow Nellie survived him by four years and died in Queensland in 1970.4,5,6

The confectionery business that bore Nunquam's name continued for another three decades. The second cottage (no. 419) was acquired by Nunquam Pty Ltd in 1978 and the company owned all the land between Newry Street and the laneway to the north. With the downturn in manufacturing in the 1990s, conversion of inner city factory buildings to residential apartments proved to be a lucrative business. The land was sold in 1999 and a planning application for construction of six warehouse dwellings was lodged with City of Yarra in September 1999. The cottages were demolished in 2000 and replaced with modern structures, but the external appearance of the brick factory building remained largely unchanged. The old copper pots have ceased boiling and the fine dusting of powdered sugar that was often seen on the upstairs window ledge has long since gone. The tall chimney, built in 1920, remains as a visual memory of North Carlton's industrial history.

More information on Stanislav Techitch Nunquam, the man whose surname means "never".

Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre
Photo: CCHG
Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre
251 Faraday Street Carlton

A Russian Visitor
Aleksandr Leonidovich Yashchenko

It might seem strange to find a story about a travel diary written by a Russian in 1903 on a Carlton local history website. However, it sheds light on a small part of our history. The travel diary of 34 year old Aleksandr Leonidovich Yashchenko records the impressions of a Russian educationist and natural scientist who visited Australia for 3 months in 1903. He landed in Fremantle on the 2nd of July 1903 and sailed for Canada in October of that year. He visited places in Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland and travelled by coach, train and tram, and ferry on the Murray River, as well as on foot.

The main objects of his attention were the provision of education, the native flora and fauna, and the indigenous people with whom he spent some time observing football, spear and boomerang throwing and other aboriginal displays. He met local dignitaries, like Frank Tate, the Director of Education, John Smyth, the Principal of Melbourne Teachers' College, the Russian Consul, Mikhaylovich Ustinov, various Protectors of Aborigines, as well as numbers of people who were born, or had made their home in Australia, as well as local indigenous people and those whose job was to protect them. He was generally very well received.

The whole diary is available in the Special Collections section of the Baillieu Library at Melbourne University and makes interesting reading. This short piece centres on part of Yashchenko's visit to Melbourne, time spent at what appears to be the Faraday Street School (SS 112) in Carlton, the home of the first practising school in 1880 and associated with every branch of teacher training until its closure in December 1972.

More information on Yashchenko's travel diary

The Trades Hall
Part of Our History

At a time when the nation's biggest convenience store chain is being cast as 'rorting wages of its workers' it is worth noting that the history of one of the world's earliest trade union buildings is in Carlton, on the fringe of the central city, originally solely financed and built by the workers to serve as a place for the labour movement. This article centres on the role of the Trades Hall in Carlton and its connection with the fight for regulated working conditions, particularly the Eight Hour Day. It was originally built in timber, after a successful union campaign in 1856, and was largely replaced by a two storey building with an imposing classical façade, bluestone foundations and brick walls with a cement render finish in the 1870s.

More information on Trades Hall and the Eight Hour Day

A Chaplain at War

Often we think of the World War 1 serviceman as young, single and eager for adventure. But many did not fit this stereotype. Read the story of John Lelean Cope, 48 years old, who left behind his wife and adult daughters in "The Manse" in Princes Street, North Carlton when he sailed for Gallipoli late in 1915.

Women and War : Two Case Studies

As we currently commemorate Australia's participation in wars, we need to see what role women played. Women are part of all societies, but when those societies are under stress the roles that women traditionally play can be either reinforced, questioned or even changed, temporarily or forever, and undoubtedly a state of war places a society under stress. So what happens in one town or suburb can be replicated in another. Both of the women cited as case studies in this article had some connection with Carlton and are therefore important to CCHG, but both also made significant contributions to many areas of Victoria.

More information

Horses, Prams and Plays

Lygon Court lies in the heart of Carlton's restaurant and shopping precinct - the place to meet for coffee & cake at Brunetti, see a movie at the Nova or do the weekly supermarket shopping at Woolies. The shopping centre, which occupies a block between Lygon and Drummond streets, was built in the 1980s, amidst protests about the loss of heritage buildings and inevitable change to Carlton's character. The Drummond Street frontage was once home to Freeman's Livery Stables and the Paramount Pram Factory, which in turn gave its name "The Pram Factory" to an innovative theatre group that later occupied the site.

Horses, prams and plays make an interesting combination. Read the story here.

Related item:
Magnificent men in Flying Machines

Queen's Coffee Palace
Digital Image: State Library of Victoria
Artist's Impression of Queen's Coffee Palace
Corner of Rathdowne and Victoria Streets Carlton

Otto Jung's Bible

In August 2015 CCHG received a request for help in tracing the provenance of an 1827 French edition of the New Testament. An inscription on the inner cover suggests that it was acquired by Otto Jung in 1852. Inside the book, where presumably it has been for a century, is a used and opened envelope posted from Lorne and sent to Otto Jung at 1 Rathdown Street, Carlton. This was the address of the very grand Queen's Coffee Palace, begun in 1888 but because of the financial collapse never finished as intended. On the back of the envelope is a message in French, dated 1915. Not all of it is legible but the gist is very clear. Jung is making a gift of the book to "my beloved Paggie ... the only one in the Laver families (except her brother Lol) to have studied French" and recommends that she and her brother should read it from time to time.

German-born Otto Jung arrived in Victoria in 1853 as a young man of 23 - presumably his French New Testament, acquired in the previous year, travelled with him. He settled in Castlemaine where he became a close friend of the Laver family, who were farmers at Chinaman's Creek. When Jonas Laver died in 1880 leaving a family of seven sons, Jung, now a wealthy man, took the younger boys under his wing. William Adolphus, the fourth son, was a talented violinist and when a visiting German musician heard him play as a teenager he offered him training in Europe. In 1883 William and his mother Mary Ann travelled to Frankfurt with her two youngest boys. It is thought that Otto Jung accompanied them. In 1885 or 1886 Mary Ann died, but with Jung's support the three young Lavers stayed on. One son, Rudolph, remained permanently in Germany but in 1893 Jung continued his support for this family by helping the youngest boy, Ralph, establish a successful preserving factory in Collingwood.

William returned in 1889 in order to lobby for appointment to the Chair of Music, about to be set up at the University of Melbourne. He was not successful but became a private piano teacher and in 1895 oversaw the establishment of the Melbourne University Conservatorium of Music, initially located in the Queen's Coffee Palace. Otto Jung paid the rent for the first term. William married in 1894 and four children were born over the next five years. Lol (Laurence Otto) was the oldest and Paggie (Violet Agnes) the only daughter. Jung may already have been living at the Coffee Palace in 1895. Certainly it is his address on the electoral rolls from 1903 onwards. When he wrote his note to Paggie in 1915 she was 19 years old, Lol was 20 and their father's long-time supporter was 85. In the same year William Adolphus Laver achieved his ambition and became the third Ormond Professor of Music at the University of Melbourne. Otto Jung died in 1916. An interesting detail is that death notices in the Age and Argus recorded only his name, age and residence in the "Queen's Buildings". There is no reference to the Laver family to whom he had been so good a friend over so many years, or to anyone else.

More information

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