History of North Melbourne

serendipity photography

In its earliest days North Melbourne was just a number of cottages on the edges of the Melbourne city grid, which developed into a town, slum, then inner city suburb over the next century and a half.

Formation, population growth, and slums

serendipity photography

Melbourne itself was only founded in 1835, with people living in North Melbourne from the 1840s. In 1845 a large park (Royal Park) and a adjacent town were approved by the colonial governors in New South Wales. Rainbow Lorikeets, Cockatoos, Parrots and other beautiful native birds still live in Royal Park. It also houses some less native animals in the Royal Melbourne Zoo.

serendipity photography

In the 1800s the major landmarks of the area would have been the Benevolent Asylum (a neo-gothic style building), the North Melbourne Town Hall, The Queen Victoria Markets and the shops along Errol street which still stand today. The Town Hall was built in 1876, with the elegant clocktower soon becoming a local icon.

serendipity photography

North Melbourne’s overpopulation problems starte with the goldrush in the 1850s. By the 1880s slum housing was common. It the 1930s it was reported that makeshift houses were being built in the laneways, which were cramped and sunless. Pictures from the time show something very different from the restored housing we have today. The political push to end the slums became very strong in the ‘30s. Building projects to house the slum population began in earnest, but the change was far from immediate. Over the next few decades plans became more ambitious, seamlessly turning into the high rise housing we have today.

St Mary Star of The Sea

Serendipity Wedding Image- St Mary Star of The Sea

With a recent restoration by the National Trust bringing back the bright colours and art of the church, this is one of the most striking examples of Italianate architecture in Melbourne. Inspiration was not only taken from Italy, but from France too, with features like rose windows.

serendipity photography

When it was first built in 1854 St Mary Star of The Sea would have been one of a number of churches in the area, this one serving the Catholic population. The version currently standing was built in 1892 from the designs of architect Edgar Henderson. Henderson constructed a number of churches around Victoria and Western Australia in the timeframe, with the massive 1200 seat St Mary’s being a stand out example.

SereSerendipity Wedding Image- St Mary Star of The Seandipity Wedding Image- History of North Melbourne

Governor Hotham

North Melbourne was known as Hotham until 1887, in honour of Sir Charles Hotham, the Governor of Victoria from 1853 to 1855. Hotham had already enjoyed a high profile career as an officer in the British navy. Joining in 1818, he rose through the ranks, in time commanding ships, quelling uprisings and performing diplomatic duties. In 1846 he became a commodore, putting him in command of a fleet.

serendipity photography

Gold was found in Victoria in 1850. This heralded in a prosperous period and in time would lead to the construction of some of Melbourne’s finest locations to photograph, such as Butleigh Wootton, with its glass and velveted steps, or the grand columns of Parliament House. It also brought instability, as the governance tried to keep a booming population cohesive, healthy and housed. The British picked Hotham, a solider with a strong history of leadership, a choice that they would soon regret.

The Eureka stockade, a rebellion of miners on the Ballarat goldfields, occurred in 1854. Miners wanted basic rights, including voting, and an end to an expensive, mandatory license fee for mining. The Victoria Hotham had inherited was crippled with debt, and the unpopular license fee was a measure he insisted on. Hotham’s harsh resistance to the crisis lead to high levels of injury, and dissatisfaction among the Victorian population, as well as his superiors in the British government. Twenty seven lives were lost. Hotham resigned in the next year.
serendipity photography

serendipity photography

 

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply