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Buggerlugs - Anne's Story

hedge

Originally our house on Punt Road, Richmond, had a privet hedge. Once I remember a man having a quiet and private piss into it.

Then my mother scavenged a lot of stone and built a big wall. It barely got through council: my father said it was probably because it reminded them of their days inside! It must have made my mother feel very safe because she always used to walk naked from the veranda down the steps to the front gate to get the milk and the paper in the morning.

In those days, the 1960s, the paper boy ('Buggerlugs') and the milko who delivered from a cart pulled by a slow and patient horse, got a present at Christmas time, maybe ten shillings? I don't know, it was my father who kept the custom going.

A cul de sac when the lights are red - Philippe's Story

southyarra

My family have been in South Yarra since 1860. And here we are in 2014. Continuous occupation. All my working life I’ve been here. We came back to Australian in 1954, when I was five. My father was an Australian in the British Army. And we were stationed in Malaya and Singapore, and then came back to our family home that’s been in the family since 1880, where my dear old mum still lives, on the home straight to 90. Fighting fit, so I think she’ll be there for a long time to come. So Punt Rd has been a big part of my life.

Early memories of it were: we used to play on the banks of the Yarra. That was our total playground. And we’d range up and down, we’d frighten the old homeless men who used to camp out near the Anderson St Bridge. We were the cowboys, they were the Indians. So we would stalk them and creep through the bushes until they saw us. Then we’d scream off on our bikes and find someone else to annoy.

We used to ride to the old Olympic Pool, which is long gone now. That was before the new Olympic Pool built for the 1956 Olympics came in. But all that area was our playground. One of our great desires, as little boys, was to be able to ride our bikes non-stop from Alexander Ave to Domain Road.  That was a sign of manhood, if you could do that. Up the hill. But in that era, there were no gears, so you were standing on the pedals to get them to go. So it really was a big effort.

I made it up eventually but there were a lot of dry runs. If our parents knew... but traffic was nothing like now. My old pal Mike, he and I say so many times that you could walk across Punt Rd with your eyes shut and you weren’t in any danger. There was just the odd car that came up and down. You would never see 10 cars at once on the hill, or anything like that. It really is very different. 

But that whole run of Punt Rd was great. If you go over the hill, over Domain Rd, and down on the left, Shipley St was on the left, and the Stockdale Bakery was there. And that was an old-fashioned bakery, the horse and carts used to come around South Yarra with Stockdale’s Bakery on it, I’ve got images of that. We’d go and buy our bread. We’d also call in there after school and they’d give us a roll or something like that. Or if our parents sent us round to buy it, we’d develop the technique of making a hole in the corner of the bread, and then you’d peel out all the bread, and my mother would then put the knife on to cut it and it would go crunch because there was no substance inside.

And then when we were late teens, if we were coming home from a party or a ball, we would call into Stockdale’s – because that’s when they were baking – and the smell of it was magnificent, and we’d buy some fresh bread to take home for breakfast. That was lovely. That was pulled down late ‘60s, 1970s, something like that. And it’s now a group of townhouses.

Many of the huge old mansions were still there when I was a little boy. A lot of those have now been demolished and there are blocks of flats in their place. But those mansions weren’t being used as mansions – they were divided into flats or they were boarding houses. In the old days, there weren’t as many blocks of flats around so people lived in the old mansions – usually a widow would run it. That was quite a respectable way to live. With a communal bathroom and kitchen.

There were rooming houses and there were boarding houses. Rooming houses were the lesser, and they normally had returned men from the war in gaberdine coats and hats, and carrying a gladstone bag, usually with about 4-5 bottles of beer to see them through the night. You’d hear them going past going clunk clunk clunk with the bottles. Whereas a boarding house was more upmarket, and that meant that you were fed. You would sit at a communal table for breakfast and dinner. And those places flied or died on their tables. So if Mrs Bloggs was known as a good cook, she had good customers. So that was the way a lot of it was done.

There used to be a pub on the corner of Shipley St and Punt Rd, way before my time. I think it was the Clarendon Hotel. I’ve got a photo of it but later on it became the outlet for the bakery. There are fabulous buildings such as Airlie, the police academy, I’ve got extensive history on that. And directly opposite was the German Embassy, which was recently sold, and there’s a tunnel, which I’ve seen, which stretches under Punt Rd and, reputedly during the war, Airlie was taken over by the military and they would go through to the German Embassy, I suppose to negotiate peace or something. I’ve seen it, I’ve got a photo of it, I think. The police have been there for many years. That was a big fancy mansion.

Opposite is Pulman House on the south-west corner. And that was a Church of England home for elderly women. And that was sold off in the late ‘70s and renovated into a private house. Originally the Pulman family, who were very wealthy early Melbourne people, they owned it. 

I went to a school called Yarra Bank, which is now defunct. I went there between 1954 and 1956. And it was a ‘dame school’. A dame school is where unmarried daughters would earn their living by running schools for young people. Some developed into senior schools but most were prep or junior schools. Only a small number of students. That ran, I think my sister, who’s two years younger than me, I think she was about the end of it. I’m 65 in August, so I left at the end of ’55. I was there two years. I think my sister was there another two years. Miss Mary and Miss Quinlan ran that. That was in Major Davidson’s old house dating back to the 1840s, now demolished, now a scungey block of flats. But I’ve got a lot of history on that. I used to walk there from my parents’ house on Murphy St, with my mum, not by myself, I was only a little tacker. And walk down to Davidson St. I always remember we had afternoon sleeps. And here I am at nearly 65, on a Monday, what do I do? I fall asleep on the couch. So the wheel turns.

There was a racecourse at the bottom of Darling St. On what the council insist on calling Darling Gardens. It’s official name was always Polly’s Park. Polly was a dog. It was Mrs Goolay’s dog. And all the locals called it Polly’s Park. The racecourse was there in the 1800s. It was wasteland, thistles, all sorts of stuff. Sidney Myer created Como Park and created Alexander Ave, and he did that in the 1929 Depression to create employment. He financed all of that. When Alexander Ave came through, two developers – Reg Biffen and Howard Lawson – bought all the land from the railway bridge down near Darling St up to Punt Rd. They basically developed all the flats, all the Beverly Hills. I can talk to you for hours about those two. Amazing guys. And they were very young when they did it.

Most of the building materials came from demolished commercial buildings and mansions. Lawson was the world champion bricklayer in 1911. That was laying bricks for the Britania or Britanica Hotel. They fell foul of the labour laws of the time. As a result, Lawson went to jail. His family were horrified and they won’t talk about him. The daughter lives at Tweed Heads, I’ve known her for 40 years, and she won’t talk. I was told they burnt everything. All the records. Because of the shame.

And there were vineyards on both sides of Punt Rd. Ogilvie had the vineyard on the western side, and that ran from Domain Rd down to Alexander Ave. Colonel Davidson had the vineyard on the eastern side. The eastern side was okay; the western side the grapes were not much good.

I’ve got a lot of great history on the houses around there. Sadly a few of them are gone. I’ve got a photo of the punt, of the pedestrian zigzag bridge that came next, and of the new bridge, which I think was 1939. 

Of course the other great feature there is the magnificent golden elm tree. On the corner of Alexander. But that’s only been there since the war. It’s probably 70-years-old. 

There were the Pleasure Gardens in Cremorne and there were some others further up, to the upstream side of the Chapel Bridge. That’s wrong – where they were is now a park in Richmond, behind the wall of the freeway, and the old bluestone quarry is there. That’s where the first hot air balloon went up.

There was a famous murder, down past Wesley, between High St and the Junction. I don’t think he was a gangster but he was shot on a vacant block and he lived in Walsh St. And about 25-years-ago there was a neo-Nazi bloke shot with double-barreled shotgun, just behind a house on Punt Rd, which became a massage parlour. 

My brother-in-law is John Wren's grandson. They’re all entrenched Collingwood supporters. He’s a QC so about as far from a criminal as you can get. He’s very nervous about his grandfather but I keep saying, 'In the modern world he’d be a successful businessman.' It was only in that time.

There used to be a fake Elizabethan Hotel, on the Yarra, by Punt Rd bridge in Richmond. It was demolished when that slipway to the freeway came through. There was a famous murder of a sailor there. It would’ve been in the ‘50s. You’d need to look at Truth or something. When I was a kid we were always told never go near that place because of the crowd. The rough crowd that were there.

I work in real estate and, on a Saturday, we’ve got to get from A to B very quickly. And you would never in your wildest use Punt Rd. After a while you get to know all the shortcuts. Punt Rd is never a shortcut. As for a strategy: only avoidance. There’s nothing else. I always laugh, whenever we’re selling a property on Punt Rd, and people complain that it’s noisy, I always say, 'No no no, it’s a cul de sac when the lights are red.' 

Between High St and the Junction, there used to be the Taiping Chinese Restaurant. My grandparents would never let me go there – they said they used to kill cats. Not real of course – that was the story. So all my life I could never walk into that restaurant. A couple of times when I was in my 20s or 30s people would say, 'We’re going to the Taiping for dinner', and I’d say, 'No, thanks, can’t do that.' It’s not a Chinese restaurant anymore.

I went to Christchurch, the school up here on the corner of Toorak Road. I was there from ’56 till the end of ’60. The traffic wasn’t an issue. My grandparents wouldn’t let me walk on the south side of Toorak Road, because that’s where all the bad people lived. Toorak Rd was very much northside, southside. They weren’t bad, they were mainly Greek immigrants. And my grandmother was French so why she had that set, who knows? But as a kid all those Fawkner and Argo Streets were great, but in earlier times streets like Argo St were quite dangerous. They had all the sly grogs, the SP bookies, there were murders. It was all in that Argo Hotel, that later on became very civilised but used to be a real bloodhouse. 

The bookies in the laneways always had a cockatoo, a man who was on watch. So if the police came anywhere near he’d give a shrill whistle and they’d all bolt. I’d never heard the term until 20 years ago. We sold a property on Oxford St in South Yarra down by Chapel St, and there was an SP bookie that used to work the lane there. And dear old Sol was filling me in on that. 

Very different now. I used to get a shilling for a hessian bag of horse manure. Sixpence a bag for oak leaves, when I was a kid. So every time the horse and cart went past – because you’ve got your ice, meat, fruit, bread, milk – all delivered by horse. This was in the ‘50s, early ‘60s. You’d go scurrying out and chase with the old pan you clean the hearth with, and you’d have the broom and the thing, and your mother would go nuts, sweeping up horse poo with her indoor brush. 

I'd sell the manure to Mrs Goolay who lived on the corner. For her garden. My other claim to fame with her, she lived at 67 Murphy St, she had a kitchen with slate paving, in the early ‘60s. One day I walked into the kitchen with her son Russ and she said, 'I’m so proud, I’ve bought these unbreakable glasses. Would you like to have a drink in the unbreakable glasses?' I held up the glass and dropped it. Of course it hit the slate and shattered into a million pieces. She went nuts. And I said, 'Mrs Goolay, you told me it was an unbreakable glass.' She said, 'Not on bloody slate!'

Image credits:
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Photograph of the punt on the Yarra River, Melbourne.
Date(s): 1872.
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.

64 years on Punt Road - Len's Story

puntroad

My name’s Len and I’m 83 years of age. I came to Punt Road, Richmond, on the fourth of April 1951. It happened to be my brother’s seventeenth birthday. We grew up in Surrey Hills and my father died just before I left school.

I've lived in this same house on Punt Road for 64 years. I’m the longest residing resident between Bridge Road and Swan Street. And how I know that is, I go to a lot of auctions and my observations over all those years is new people have moved in here, old houses have been pulled down and flats have been put up, this type of thing. So I’m the only one remaining. And I would guess that probably I’m the longest residing resident between Bridge Road and the river because there’s not many houses along there.

My mother’s sister, my aunt, was born in a house opposite this one in 1896. She never married. She bought this house for us because we didn’t own our place in Surrey Hills. But my aunt wasn’t saying anything about rent. So my mother said to me, 'When your aunt comes to dinner on Wednesday I want you to bring up the subject of rent.' I was 19. So I did that and my aunt said, 'What are you paying in Surrey Hills?' And my mum said, 'One pound ten and sixpence.' Which was three dollars and ten cents. And my aunt said, 'Well, forget the sixpence. One pound ten a week.'

Now that rent never went up, from 1951 to 1984, believe it or not. When my mum died, my aunt was like a second mother to me. In 1984 she gave me the house because, about that time, the gift duty was taken off – there was gift duty payable on any gift over $10,000, you had to pay duty to the government. So that was taken off and my aunt said, 'Look, it might be put on again, I was going to leave you the house in my will anyhow.' So she gave me the house and I had to pay $1500 stamp duty to put it in my name.

I remember standing on the front verandah our first day here. We got back from work, my mother and my brother, and what we call peak period now, there were still cars but they only banked up to about two houses down the street, that was it. We said, 'Look at all these cars!'  

puntroad

And then there were no traffic lights at Rowena Parade of course. They were put in after the death of a neighbour. People used to have to run across the road. It was only a four lane narrow road. If people wanted to go to the park you had to dodge the traffic, there was no lights. And this poor lady had a dog, and took it for a walk, at about dusk one night. She was crossing the road and she was hit by a car and killed. And those lights were put in about, I’d say, fairly early 1950. 

When we first came we used to go and kick the football in the park, that sort of thing. So the traffic lights were put there for that reason. The accident highlighted the need for them. But it’s unfortunate she had to die.

I used to walk to work. Go across the park, across where the tennis centre is now. I used to go the long way, I could’ve walked straight through down to Flinders Street. But I used to go around by the river, because I enjoy walking. It pays dividends. I don’t know how you convince people of that, but it pays dividends. And I’ve been lucky, I’ve had a lucky life and I’m very thankful for it. 

These days, you’re getting more and more people travelling to work at 5.30 in the morning, in big numbers, and right along through till six o’clock. A lot of them probably start at seven o’clock in a factory somewhere and they probably go in early, might start at eight, and they go in early and the boss lets them start work and they come back earlier. There’s a big amount of traffic going up the street here. After 3.30pm, you’ll find them banking up from Bridge Road going north. That’s how it is. The traffic’s got them beat in Melbourne. I don’t know what they can do. At this moment, you could go anywhere, you know, within 3kms and there’d be busy roads everywhere. 

There’s an interesting story about Punt Road that not many people would know. We came here in April ’51. A few weeks later, a family named Keon came to live next door. Now Stan Keon, he was the Local Member of Parliament in the State Parliament in the late 1940s. And then the local member, the Federal Member, died and Stan Keon got the seat of what was called Yarra in those days. So he was our Federal Member of Parliament. And in 1954 the Melbourne Masterplan was put on display. It was talked about for several years, they were going to do all sorts of things, roads widening and so on and so forth. From time to time these things crop up. It was on display at the Town Hall. So I said to my mother, 'I’ll go and have a look at this.' Because you never know.

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So I went in to look and on the wall there’s a big, black line coming down Hoddle Street, a dog-leg bend at Bridge Road, coming down this side of the road, and another dog-leg bend to go under the railway bridge. So I told my mother and she said, 'You better go and see Stan.' He was an intelligent bloke, a nice fellow, but a very confident fellow. So I rang his bell there and I said, 'I had a look at that masterplan and they’re going to take this side of the road.' He said, 'No no no, that’s the logical side over there.' I said, 'Well, I saw it.' 'No no,' he said. So, that’s all I could do.

Ten days later my doorbell rings and it’s Stan. He said, 'Listen, we’re having a big meeting at the Town Hall, this is ridiculous, I want you to come down.' This was before the Labor split of 1955. This was 1954. So he had a lot of influence and was talked about as possibly being a future leader of the Labor Party. He had the influence to get the thing changed to the other side. It was meant to be this side. All would’ve been taken. There wouldn’t be many people who know that now. 

There’s an overlay now from the river up to Union Street, Windsor. I understand there are 47 properties owned by VicRoads. That was the obvious side because there weren’t so many houses to pull down. I took photos right through the process. Stan lost his seat in the election of ’55. A lot of other Labor men did too.

When I first came here they were still using horses and carts, and sweeping the gutters with a broom. And the fellow would go ahead and sweep up a heap of stuff and the other chap would come along and shovel, and throw it into the tray. Milk was still being delivered by horse drawn vehicle and there was one tremendous crash out there one night and the car had driven into the milk cart. And that was the end of the horses. They didn’t have them anymore.

I went and got a job at the brewery. Started work on the second of February 1950. It was my first job and I stayed there for two and a half years. I got three-quarters of an hour for lunch. And when I went to the Customs, the public service, I got an hour. And I used to go for a walk up to Bourke Street. At that time they were pulling out the cable tram lines, they were still there. I remember leaving an exam at the Exhibition Centre, they had double deck buses in Bourke Street. Then they put the trams in.

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I was living here when the Olympics were on. They broke the gate down, I got into the opening ceremony, just by going in the broken gate. The police couldn’t do anything, there were hundreds of us. We ran right up onto the top floor of the northern stand, which has been pulled down and rebuilt. And I saw Ron Clarke come around. Didn’t have a ticket of course. They broke the gates down, the wooden gates. It was only a few police there and hundreds of people. We just pushed through, the cops couldn’t do anything about it. Better not tell anyone…

Around 1988 I changed my front fence. Some entrepreneur opened a nightclub nearby. The standard was the lowest of nightclubs, from what I can gather, I haven’t been to one myself. It was acceptable to go in thongs and singlet and shorts. And the patrons would sometimes come and knock on my door, or ring the bell, then run off. Or urinate on my property. So I applied to the council to have a steel picket fence and lockable gates. I went to see this chap, he was the planning man at the time. He said, 'That’s a heritage area, you can't do that, it would alienate the Punt Road streetscape. Punt Road’s got a lot of brick walls – you can have a brick wall.' I said, 'I don’t want a brick wall. I’ve been here 40 years: I like to look out, people walk past, I know them, we have a chat.'

I challenged them and won my case. It took a bit of getting it together. I photographed all the streetscape from Bridge Road to the railway line. I won the case. As a matter of interest, a mate of mine told me that my case was quoted in the Victorian law journal without mentioning me. This house was built in 1922. The hedge is probably the original. The only condition of my case was that I had to let the hedge grow through the fence. That’s what I was going to do anyhow. I like the hedge, it looks nice, so I was happy.

A lot of accidents used to occur on Punt Road before they widened the road. And you could ring the tow truck and they’d give you $50 a call, but you’d have to be the first to get them. Sometimes you’d ring up and they’d say, 'We’ve already got the one near Rowena Parade.' Someone else had got in first. I remember one year, one of the tow trucks gave me a box of chocolates, a bottle of champagne. He said, 'You gave us $600 worth of business last year.' We’re talking 40 years ago now.

The accidents stopped happening with the widening of the road. Cars are more highly engineered these days and better at braking and so on. Road engineering and traffic engineering are vital ingredients for making life safer on the road.

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I’m the only living person in Australia who bought an early model Holden, still has it and still uses it. I bought it at Queensbridge Motors on Queensbridge Street, South Melbourne. The day I brought it home, I told my mother she'd have to keep the garage gates open. I was nervous. I ended up leaving Queensbridge Street around five o’clock. Peak period on a Friday night. And even then it was a busy night. Lots of trucks. There were no blinkers, you put your hand out to give a right turn. I came up here and put my arm out and Mum had the gates open. Got in the garage and sat here for 30 minutes. I couldn’t believe it.

Now if you want to do a righthand turn into Rowena Parade you’ve got a slip lane there. And that’s safe. And you’ve got a green arrow. Whereas before…

I park in Rowena Parade, right near the corner. There used to be a No Standing sign there but someone knocked it down. Doesn’t matter, they don’t enforce it. And then I walk around, open the gate, open the garage, then press the pedestrian light button, which gives me double the green light for Rowena. And then I come around and get in.

Photographs of Punt Road over the years, taken from Len's front garden. Courtesy of Len.

Growing up on Punt Road - Sue's Story

milkhorsecart

My family and I grew up on Punt Road (between Swan Street and the freeway) and our grandmother lived next door so we have many tales and memories:

* Milk was delivered by horse and cart through the 60s. The horse's name was Jedda and my sister and I used to try to wake up early so we could pat the horse. Mum would make us collect its droppings to use as manure!

* Mum used to send us to the yard to read the Nylex clock and then she'd reset every clock in the house to match (clocks weren't reliable back then).

* Back in those days you could actually cross Punt Road to get to the park with just a little care. Believe it or not we did this as kids, to go catching tadpoles in the Botanical Gardens.

* I remember hearing the roar of the crowd at the MCG on Grand Final day and, from our verandah, being able to see the crowds in the top stands. And of course seeing the fireworks every Moomba celebration.

* As a teenager I used to sell newspapers and lollies during the mad rush of the footy crowds through Richmond Station. How quickly we needed to tally the goods and dish out change before they raced off to catch their trains.

* The intersection of Punt Road and Swan Street used to flood in the 70s every time there was a downpour. Once, the high point of the water was at my mid-thigh level. It was so entertaining to watch passengers disembarking from the city tram (which could go no further), removing their shoes and rolling up their pants to wade to the other side.

* I remember countless car crashes as motorists tried to turn right into the Shell garage. It was tow truck driver heaven.

* My sister and I had a bedroom that looked out onto Punt Road – specifically the big park opposite Shell. The traffic hum (not quite noise) would let you know the time of day – and the weather. A swissshhh sound told you it was raining. Didn't want to get out of bed those days. I remember the headlights of the cars made a travelling ripple pattern at the top of the high walls in the bedroom. How they did remains a mystery to me. 

Image credits:
Courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Milk cart with horses on country road
Date(s): [ca. 1875-ca. 1938]
Creator: Harvey, John Henry 1855-1938 photographer.
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright

A truck full of fox terriers - Robert's Story

foxterrier

I grew up in Clifton Hill, a fancy name for the northern end of Collingwood; a desirable address in the 21st century but pretty much a low grade suburb in the 1940s despite the glories of the local football club.

Our house was at 372 Hoddle Street, which was, and still is, the major north-south artery of Melbourne. My parents rented the front half of the place from a Mrs Phillips, a vile tempered witch who lived in the rear half. There was a Mr Phillips, I vaguely remember him as a harmless old bloke who was forced to live in a small shed in his own backyard until he drowned himself in the Yarra River, which was only a few hundred metres from Hoddle Street. They found his shoes on the bank. Why do people take their shoes off to suicide?

Despite the proximity of the landlady, the house was quite pleasant and spacious and had an elegant front bay window opening onto a shady timber verandah and a small front garden. Small may be an understatement as I can remember mum cutting the lawn with hand shears.

I doubt if there is still a private residence on Hoddle St now but back then it was a mix of factories, freestanding houses and rows of single story terraces as were next to our place.
I don’t recall feeling hemmed in by our surroundings but, thinking about it now, it must have been frantic for the time. A bus service ran on Hoddle Street connecting Northcote to Elwood in the south. And the Princess Bridge train service to both Hurstbridge and Thomastown ran along the back fence. Maybe this was the reason Mr Phillips ended it all rather than the popular theory of escaping his wife!

My earliest memory is of my mother reading the riot act to the driver of a horse and dray for hitting the horse. In the forties it was still common to see garbage collectors, bakers, milkmen, junk merchants and tradesmen using this sort of transport.

Shoe factories were the main source of employment in both Collingwood and Fitzroy and my father and all of his six brothers worked in the shoe trade. Clicker, maker, finisher, stuffcutter were some of the recognised trades and the smell of the leather and glue at Henri Vanel, where my father was a pattern cutter and clicker, are still easy to bring back to my memory.

As well as shoe factories next door and over the road, we had a wool warehouse and a huge paper storage depot within a hundred metres of the house.

There was a specialist rat-catcher who would arrive on a regular basis with his truck full of fox terriers. These were unleashed at the woolworks or the paper plant and the place would explode into a killing field for an hour or so.

Sounds terribly industrial but, in fact, Alexander Parade, which is now a feeder to the Eastern Freeway, was then a very wide boulevard with a centre garden area running all the way from Carlton to the river at Collingwood. I can remember the trenches that had been dug into the lawns during the Second World War were still there in 1947. Apparently, in my father’s youth, Alexander Parade had been named Riley Street and what was the park with peppercorn trees in my childhood had been an open ditch drain (with the accompanying dead dogs and rubbish). Old-timers still called the garden the Riley Street drain.

Also on this major thoroughfare were the landmark Fitzroy gasometers and the red brick shot tower. The gasometers are gone but the shot tower’s still there. The tallest remaining shot tower in the world according to recent articles! In the days of low rise buildings, these two high rise structures were spectacular. 

The Darling Gardens were a short way up Hoddle Street and were where I spent most of my childhood leisure time playing on the the cannons, climbing trees or driving a billy cart. As well, it was my route to school. Fond memories of a place that now has the shadow of the Hoddle Street massacre hanging over it.

Like my parents, all of my relatives rented houses in the Collingwood or Fitzroy areas. The figure that comes to mind as weekly rental is seventeen shillings ($1.70) on houses that are now selling in excess of $1,000,000. Gentrification!

Image courtesy of the State Library Victoria: www.slv.vic.gov.au
Date(s): [ca.1900 - ca.1927]
Creator: Bane, Joseph 188--1927, photographer.
Copyright status: This work is out of copyright.

Punt Road memories - Jim's Stories

horse

My grandmother, Elizabeth Wilson, migrated to Australia from Scotland in 1923. Not long afterwards, she took over a shop, opposite the Punt Road Oval, that she ran with her family.

Two stories she told us...

Carlton and United Breweries used to graze the Clydesdales that pulled their drays in the paddocks between Swan Street and the Yarra (probably the area known as Gosch's Paddock). The massive horses were stabled close to the brewery during the week but, at the weekend, they were turned out on pastures green for two blissful days. She used to tell us of the horses literally stampeding down Punt Road on a Friday evening just like children coming out of school. Monday morning was a different story as they had to be almost pushed up the Punt Road Hill to face the weekly grind.

Gran was known for her excellent home made ice-cream. Her shop sold Peter's ice-cream. As she would tell us, one day she quietly substituted some of her own product. A customer bought a cone, took a couple of licks and asked "Is this Peter's?" Gran nodded. "Hmm," he replied "They've improved!"

And some stories of my own...

As a cadet journalist on The Herald in 1959, I was reporting on, with a photographer, a brewery lorry that had overturned while turning from Albert Street into Hoddle Street. The gutters were awash with the amber fluid. My next assignment was covering a meeting of the Women's Christian Temperence Union and I wondered why I was getting so many disparaging looks. Then I realised my shoes were soaked in the spilt brewery product.

Those of us young petrolheads of the early 1960s well remember making a lefthand turn from Punt Road at the silos and powering up a ramp onto the very first stage of the gleaming new South Eastern freeway and zipping along its total length to the Church Street off-ramp. Well it seemed very exciting at the time!

And there was once a railway station called Punt Road. The Melbourne and Suburban Railway Company opened it on 5 February 1859 on a line that began at Princes Bridge. It was just to the west of Punt Road. By December 1859 the line had been taken across Punt Road to the present site of Richmond Station. I suspect it could have been by a level crossing as high level platforms did not appear at Richmond Station until November 1885. Wow! Imagine a level crossing there today with all the trains using Richmond. The barriers would never be up and  traffic would be banked up Punt Road to Clifton Hill and St Kilda Junction!

And finally...

Some friends were discussing the best advice they had ever received from their fathers.  The winner was "No matter what time of the day or night, son, never go near Punt Road."

Caroline's Story

photo by   http://s1197.photobucket.com/user/StarShip2000

photo by http://s1197.photobucket.com/user/StarShip2000

My grandmother, Bertha, the daughter of Sir John Monash, nagged her father to buy a horse so that she could ride to school (I think at PLC in East Melbourne) from their place in Hawthorn. This would have been in the 1900s. He (unwisely) bought her an ex-racehorse that was very hard to control – but after asking she did not feel that she could complain, and risk losing the horse.

One day she was riding under the railway bridge over Punt Road, at Swan Street, when her horse bolted at the sound of trains going overhead. It became completely uncontrollable and she could have come to grief except a man passing by managed to grab it by the bridle. This man insisted on leading her home despite her protestations, and made it clear to her father that this was no horse for a young lady, so that was the end of that. 

Many years later (in the 1980s) I lived in a shared house on Punt Road. This house belonged to the mother of a very good friend of mine and it so happens that her mother was friends with Bertha Monash, just as the mother of my friend was friends with my mother. Three generations of friendships independently formed – a real Melbourne dynasty of friendships.

The shared house was the house my friend had grown up in. It was a great house, one of those single-fronted single-story terraces not far from the river on the east side of Punt Rd, still there. I had the room at the back so it was not too noisy. Many share house stories could be told a la Helen Garner (but not really Punt Rd stories), but I do remember that peculiar smell – something to do with brewing? – that always pervaded that end of Punt Rd. Whatever industry that caused it has gone now. 

 

Kate's Story

My father (born 1914 or 15) had a story about the punt road hill - when he was a little boy a man was driving a horse drawn vehicle with a heavy load up the hill and mercilessly whipping the horse(s) which was struggling, not coping with the the steepness. My father was dismayed/mortified/deeply embarrassed when his outspoken, horse-loving mother very loudly scolded and abused the man.