Carlton Community History Group


Maria's on the Move

After more than two decades in North Carlton, Maria's Pasta has closed its retail outlet. But local residents will not have to go far to buy their fresh pasta, pasta sauces and ready-made meals. The shop has moved just across the road to 706 Nicholson Street, North Fitzroy, the original home of Maria's Pasta dating back to 1985.

Maria's Pasta made the move to larger premises at 677-679 Nicholson Street, North Carlton, in 1995. The large brick building has had several incarnations during its 135 year history. It was originally built by James Spicer, staircase maker, as a joinery factory in 1886. James Spicer died in 1893 and the factory building was bought by William Angliss, a local butcher who went on to build a business empire in the meat trade. Under his ownership, the factory became a printing works and, in 1898, it was home to Madame Demaret & Company, publisher of dressmaking patterns and the "Glass of Fashion" journal. Madame Demaret's patterns were widely sold, with agents appointed in Victoria and interstate. From 1906 to the early 1930s, brewing was the business of the day. The Stacey Brewing Company was well known for its non-alcoholic beer, favoured by temperance advocates, while Bux Brewing had its signature "Stockade" brand, made from Tasmanian hops. Then there was a succession of motor tyre businesses from the mid 1930s through to the 1970s – Thompson & Son Motor Tyres, the Indo Rubber & Tyre Company, and Firestone Australia Pty Ltd. The original 1880s brick structure was substantially rebuilt in 1944, following a fire that sent clouds of acrid smoke from burning tyres over the city and surrounding suburbs. A new roof and verandah were added in later years, between the last two businesses – A distribution centre for Sigma Pharmaceuticals and, more recently, Maria's Pasta. 1,2,3

1 Business occupancy information sourced from Sands & McDougall directories and newspaper advertisements, with additional information from Maria's Pasta.
2 The Argus, 8 April 1944, p. 4
3 Melbourne Building Application Index

150 Years of Health Care for Children

Image: State Library of Victoria
The Children's Hospital, Carlton, circa. 1900

The Royal Children's Hospital in Parkville celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2020. It all began in 1870, when medical authorities and concerned citizens recognised the need for a hospital dedicated to the care of sick children. The infant mortality rate was particularly high in inner city areas and many low income families could not afford to pay for private medical and nursing care. The "Melbourne Free Hospital for Sick Children" was established in 1870 in Stephen (later Exhibition) Street in the city. Newspaper advertisements published in The Age in October 1870 invited readers to subscribe the amount of one guinea (one pound and one shilling) to fund the hospital. The Carlton branch of the London Chartered Bank, on the corner of Elgin and Drummond streets, was one of the businesses nominated to receive subscription payments.

39 Stephen-street South.
President: His Honor Judge Pohlman.
Consulting Medical Officers: Physician, Dr. Motherwell; Surgeon, Professor Halford.
Attending Medical Officers: Physician, Dr. Singleton; Surgeon, Dr. William Smith.
The Institution, which is under the management of a committee of ladies,
is open for out-patients on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, at 12 o'clock.
Subscribers of One Guinea are entitled to receive five letters of recommendation.
Subscriptions will be thankfully received by the Treasurer, M. Buckley, Esq. (Buckley and Nunn),
and by the London Chartered Bank, Collins-street and Carlton.

The Age, 6 October 1870, p. 1

Two years later, in 1872, the original six bed hospital moved to larger premises in Spring Street and was renamed the "Melbourne Hospital for Sick Children". With increasing demand for health care services, the hospital needed adequate longer-term accommodation. In May 1872, an application was made for a grant of land as a permanent home for the hospital. However, the only land available at the time was in Sydney Road, which was considered too far out of the city for patients and staff alike.


An application was made yesterday on behalf of the Hospital for Sick Children for a grant of land as a site for an hospital. The President of the Board of Land and Works was not present, but the deputation which consisted of Mrs. Bromby, Miss Bromby, Mrs. Hugh John Chambers, and Mrs. Halford, accompanied by Mr. James (surgeon) and Mr. MacBain, M.L.A.– was received by the assistant-commissioner. The only eligible piece of ground which Mr. Hodgkinson could point out abutted on the Sydney-road, and adjoined the old show-yards of the Port Phillip Farmers' Society. The deputation would have been better satisfied with a site on the Eastern-hill, or near the centre of the city, inasmuch as they wished that the hospital should be erected in a locality which could be easily reached both by managers and by patients; but when they ascertained that every other available site was gone they said that they would take the piece Mr. Hodgkinson had indicated. The assistant-commissioner undertook to represent the case favourably to the Minister of Lands. The extent of the ground was stated to be one acre ; it is a valuable piece of land.

The Argus, 16 May 1872, p. 14

The accommodation solution presented itself in 1876, when Sir Redmond Barry sold his substantial house in Carlton. The new Hospital for Sick Children was formally opened in September 1876 and described in glowing terms in the Annual Report for that year.

The property contains altogether an acre of ground, and has extensive frontages to Rathdowne, Drummond and Pelham streets, the last mentioned of which the principal entrance faces. The grounds contain a well-arranged flower, fruit and vegetable garden, which now presents a very pretty and attractive appearance, and will greatly add to the comfort of the children. The building which is of one story, contains four wards affording accommodation for 50 in-patients. The wards are lofty and well lighted, and appear very comfortable. Their ventilation is thoroughly provided for by the introduction of Tobin's system, and the windows being almost level with the ground, allow a view of the garden. The wards lead from a large central room, which was used by Sir Redmond Barry as a billiard room, but which will now form the children's dining room. The surgeon's private room is at the left of the entrance hall, and other apartments are provided for the matron and nurses, and an excellent bathroom and lavatory for the patients.

In order that cases of accident to children may be received at any time, a casualty ward has been fitted up. Adjoining the main building another smaller structure has been erected for the accommodation of external patients, containing a large room lit from the roof, where the out patients can be attended to. Near this is situated the board-room for the meetings of the committee, while a well appointed dispensary and surgeon's room are close at hand. A washhouse has been formed from the buildings formerly used by Sir Redmond Barry as stables. Altogether the arrangements of the hospital are excellent as regards accommodation and under good management the institution cannot fail to very largely increase its present sphere of usefulness.

The Argus, 28 September 1876, p. 7

Carlton was home to the Children's Hospital (known as the Royal Children's Hospital from 1953) for 86 years, when it moved to a new purpose-built hospital in Parkville in January 1962. The ten acre site had been granted as early as 1948, but construction was delayed for some years due to lack of Government funding. In more recent times, the hospital has been completely rebuilt as a new state-of-the-art medical facility, opened in 2011.

More information: RCH 150

Where have all the flowers gone?

Image: CCHG
Median Strip Flower Garden in Canning Street, North Carlton, in April 2020

For the past few years, North Carlton residents have enjoyed a colourful display of flowers surrounding the recently planted oak trees in the Canning Street median strip. Alas, this has come to an end. The flower gardens were planted without Council approval and were thought to be depriving the young trees of nutrients essential to their healthy growth. The flowering plants were removed by Council staff in late April 2020. The oak trees underwent an intensive feeding regime during winter and spring, and new street trees have been planted along the North Carlton length of Canning Street.

The Canning Street median strip was originally created in the 1930s, with plantings of palm and poplar trees. Into the 21st century, many of the poplar trees were in poor condition and had to be removed for safety reasons. The replacement oak trees were planted in the spring of 2016 and, in the coming spring of 2020, will hopefully be showing healthy signs of new growth.

Related item: The Poplars of Canning Street

Nicholson Street Tram Track Upgrade

Image: CCHG
Tram Track removal in Nicholson Street, North Carlton, January 2020

The Nicholson Street tram route, which services both Carlton and North Carlton, had a major upgrade in January 2020, with the installation of accessible tram stops for the entire length of the street. The final stage of the project involved removing and replacing the tram tracks between Princes Street and Brunswick Road, to join up with the previously upgraded Carlton and Brunswick sections. Nicholson Street residents had to endure noise, dust and inconvenience during the project, but they have been promised an improved tram service, with better and safer access to tram stops.

The Nicholson Street tram route was originally opened as a cable tram service in August 1887. The cable winding house, which still exists, was located on the corner of Nicholson and Gertrude Streets, opposite the Carlton Gardens. The tram sheds, now home to the bus company Transdev, were located in Nicholson street, North Fitzroy, near Park Street. Melbourne's cable tram service was gradually run down from the 1920s and the Nicholson Street route was replaced by buses in October 1940. Electric powered tram services were re-instated in Nicholson street in April 1956 and have continued to serve local residents and businesses for over six decades.

For more information on trams, go to the Travelling in Carlton page.

Turning on the Waterworks at Carlton Gardens

Image: Punch, 31 December 1857, p. 6

Image: CCHG
Water Main Renewal Project
Canning Street, North Carlton, February 2020

Notes and References:
1 Melbourne Water website
2 Yan Yean : A history of Melbourne's early water supply, Tony Dingle and Helen Doyle, PROV, 2003
3 The Age, 24 December 1857, p. 4
4 The Argus, 1 January 1858, p. 5
5 The Age, 1 January 1858, p. 4
6 The Age, 5 January 1858, p. 4
7 Plan of Allotments at Carlton, North Melbourne, Parish of Jika Jika, Public Lands Office, 1859
8 The Argus, 26 November 1858, p. 5
9 City West Water website

Water security is a global issue and in Melbourne we are fortunate to have good quality drinking water available on tap. In the early days, the city's water supply was precarious, particularly during the summer months. Rainwater had to be collected, bores were sunk and water was pumped and carted from the Yarra River and other water courses. As the town's population grew, so did the demand for water and the only long term solution was to construct a reservoir to hold water and convey it via a system of pipes to the city. Yan Yean, north east of Melbourne, was chosen as a suitable site, with water drawn from the Plenty River. Construction took place over four years, commencing in December 1853, and it was a major engineering project for its time. The cast iron water pipes from the reservoir were laid through bushland to the outskirts of Melbourne, then followed the course of what later became St Georges Road to join Nicholson Street near Yorke (later Lee) Street and thence to the Carlton Gardens. 1,2

In December 1857, when the suburb of Carlton was just a few years old and North Carlton was yet to be created, the main valve was installed at the Carlton Gardens in readiness for the official opening of the Yan Yean Waterworks. As the hot days of summer arrived, the citizens of Melbourne eagerly awaited their new water supply, as announced by The Age on Christmas Eve:

It is understood that Melbourne is to be treated to something like a miniature deluge on the occasion of the opening of the Yan Yean waterworks, on the 31st of December. Jets d'eau are to be placed at every corner of every principal street ; but the great torrent is to issue in the vicinity of Carlton Gardens, under the auspices of His Excellency The Governor. The Melbourne Total Abstinence Society are to celebrate the event by a grand procession through the city.

In the same edition of the newspaper, The Age made a "glass half empty" comment that the stand pipes, which had previously supplied water to parts of the city, were to be removed "to induce the owners of property to lay the water on to their houses". This, as claimed by the The Age, had led to water carriers doubling their price from three to six shillings a load, and the burden of cost would fall on tenants. The Age concluded: "As it is, the completion of the Yan Yean water works instead of being a boon will prove a very great source of annoyance to most of the inhabitants of Melbourne." 3

The last day of 1857 dawned and by noon an estimated crowd of 7,000 had gathered at the Carlton Gardens. The Governor of Victoria, Henry Barkly, was unable to attend due to disposition, and the honour of opening the main valve went to Major-General Macarthur, the Commander-in-Chief of Her Majesty's Forces in Australia. Other dignitaries included Dr. Greeves, President of the Water and Sewerage Commission, Bishop James Palmer, Premier William Haines, Mayor Thomas Smith, Justice Redmond Barry and engineer Matthew Bullock Jackson, who superintended the whole scheme. 4

The Argus reported the occasion in matter-of-fact detail, while The Age, one again, took a "glass half empty" approach. The reporter complained about the lack of accommodation for the press, and the poor organisation of the event and crowd control of the procession that followed through the city:

Immediately on the arrival of the head of the procession at the crossing of Elizabeth street and Flinders street, a desperate attempt was made to get the congregating masses into some kind of order. Sweltering policemen pushed and shoved about until they became almost apoplectic, and the choleric Dr Greeves fought desperately for room to work the lever with which he set the jet d'eau in play. The worthy Doctor kicked and spluttered, and snapped, and at last, with the aid of a herculean policeman, encouraged by the bland smile of his Worship the Mayor, elbow room was procured, and the jet d'eau was squirted into a carriage filled with ladies, who in their innocent confidence had driven up to get a sight of the first jet d'eau to be set in motion in the capital city of the Southern Hemisphere. In a moment they were drenched from head to foot. Their coachman was so nearly drowned that he was some minutes before he could move out of the range of the first jet of the Yan Yean. 5

A few days later, The Age acknowledged one positive outcome of the improved water pressure and reported that: "The Superintendent of the Melbourne Fire Brigade informs us that the nozzles of the delivery pipes have already been enlarged, so as to meet the great pressure of the Yan Yean waters." 6

A little-known consequence of the waterworks project was that the land bounded by Station, Nicholson, Elgin and Reilly (Princes) streets in Carlton was reserved from sale for use as a tramway terminus. Matthew Bullock Jackson proposed that the wooden tramway, built to aid pipe-laying from Yan Yean to the Carlton Gardens, could be converted into a locomotive railway line for carrying goods and passengers. This would open up Yan Yean and locations along the way to settlement and sightseeing traffic. It was a bold idea and no doubt Jackson had the engineering skill and ability to make it happen, but funding was lacking and the project never went ahead. The land was released for sale in 1863 and, as a result, the buildings on the east side of Station Street between Elgin and Reilly (Princes) streets were of later construction than those on the west side. 7,8

Fast forward to mid-2019 and the time came to renew the water main servicing both Carlton and North Carlton. The existing water main running beneath Nicholson Street was 140 years old – not quite as old as the Yan Yean pipes – and was nearing the end of its operational life. The new – and larger diameter – water main was installed beneath Canning Street, from Faraday Street through to Park Street, and involved tunnelling under the major intersections at Elgin and Princes streets. Apart from renewing the pipes, the water main had to be re-located as the new tram superstops in Nicholson Street would make it difficult to access the existing pipes for essential maintenance. Life was much simpler in the 1850s, when public utilities did not have to compete with each other for space. However, we do enjoy the health and benefits of modern living and clean water. 9

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