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The great divide - Dale's Story

fence

One thing about Hoddle St is that it does create a major divide for us at Collingwood College. It almost becomes a hard boundary between this part of Collingwood and Abbotsford. And also Victoria Park. Strangely enough it’s like having the Great Wall go through the middle of the wider community. It’s quite strange to have a school that sits on the boundary of this arterial road. It causes problems for us because of noise and traffic and sometimes pollution, but it’s not too bad.

And that’s why our parents, 10 years ago, built this very high, natural wood fence to try and separate it from the major road and the ugliness of heavy traffic going past the school everyday. But blocking it out has meant that people don’t know we’re here. So here we are, on the boundary of this major road, and people can travel up that road – and I hear this story time and time again – 'Where are you?' And I say, 'Opposite the Town Hall.' And they give me this puzzled look, as if, 'I’ve been travelling that way for 20 years and I’ve never seen the school.' They didn’t even know the school is there. 

There’s a carpet place directly opposite, on the other side of Hoddle St, that’s been in business for 32 years. I went in there one day and asked for a quote for some carpet for the school. He said, 'What school?' Again it’s another example of how this road can create a huge divide. And one side doesn’t know very much about the other side. It’s quite strange. What’s worse for us is that there’s another big divide with the freeway. So we’re in the corner of these two big roads, pathways, that create divisions within the community. Which is a little bit sad because the demographic on this side of the road is changing a bit, but the demographic on the other side has clearly changed. It’s amazing what a road can do to a situation like that.

We’ve got an overpass and it hardly gets used. Back 15 years ago it was probably the right place. But now with the shift towards public transport people don’t go that way. There are hard barriers right along the road there. Apart from our fence line, there are other fence lines, that make this quite a serious construct in terms of dividing people. In some respects that’s a little bit sad. The demographic on the east is quite affluent, very different from this side, and they’re only separated by 50 metres. I’ve been in schools with big roads next to them but nothing to this effect. This is a big barrier.

There have been many well-established businesses along Hoddle Street that have survived many years. I’ve watched those businesses. It’s strange, I don’t see many people walking in and out but they keep pushing on. Whether it’s because they’re adaptable, or have been able to maintain their businesses in a different way, I don’t know. But there are also little businesses that spring up. It’s quite unique, the range of businesses, everything from printing, right through to furniture. It’s quite strange in that respect. It’s funny too that the traffic doesn’t connect with the businesses. It’s a strange area like that – the face of the local businesses doesn’t fit in with the type of people that use the road.

The road does have public transport along it. I’ve been using the public transport more. I think there is a large bus usage group that uses Hoddle St. It’s quite an important roadway. It spans quite a few suburbs. It has the ability to connect with so many other forms of transport. The public transport here connects with the freeway that then connects with Doncaster. If you get into Clifton Hill, it then connects with the West, to Moonee Ponds and all that area. It has that feeder ability to connect with a lot of other communities around.

I like the way, as you travel along, you can suddenly see a football club or two. These big institutions that have become part of the roadway. I think that reflects a part of Melbourne too. And it’s also got the multicultural aspect. And the history.

There's a book about the 125-year history of this school. In the early days, when they were trying to get it up and running, there was a little Greek school here. At that time the Greeks were pretty predominant in this area. And the Greeks actually did a march up Hoddle St. It was quite a pivotal point for their political process – it wasn’t long after that they announced that they would build a school. I think that’s how the red building got built. It came from a protest up and down Hoddle St, with all the Greek mums.

There was a girls school here for a while. That burnt down, then they moved to another temporary school, then this one was built. There’s a real history. 

There's a little doll’s house on the corner – that's a miner’s cottage. It used to be on Islington, which is the street parallel to Hoddle. Those little cottages – that’s the last one – they were scattered right through Collingwood and Abbotsford. You can see they’re tiny. I don’t think they had a floor in them. And they’re called miner’s cottages. They go back to the very early days. That was the look along Hoddle St back in those days. That’s the last remaining one.

Our kids got a grant last year, got $1000, and bought some old tables and chairs and the kitchen equipment they used, they got it on ebay, and tried to restore it inside. But that’s reflective of maybe 100 years ago, back in the early 1900s. 

I’ve been here 10 years and I haven’t seen a lot change on Hoddle St. I think it’s one of those institutions that’s going to live on forever and forever. The road itself has changed. But the people around the road, in the immediate vicinity, I haven’t seen much change.

I know when I was a kid there was all this talk about the freeway. As I said, it creates a divide. But it’s really at the top end up there. If it came down 100 metres down here I wonder how it would have changed things. So let’s see in 10 years time. But in the main stretch of things I don’t see a lot of change happening, except some roads getting bigger and wider. 

Shoes and fruit - Len's Story

factory

In 1938 I worked at a furniture factory in Roseneath St, Clifton Hill. Fellows by the name of Patterson and Didier. There was a shoe factory nearby and, on 2 September 1938, pay day, there was a hold up and the owner got shot. Some of the bullets landed in the embankment on Roseneath St.

Albert Moody had a fruit shop in Hoddle St. I used to supply him with fruit and veggies, and cart stuff out to his little market for him. He was a cripple, he was on crutches, he was a lovely man to deal with.

Hoddle St was widened in 1971. Around that time I bought the top floor of the Julius Marlow shoe factory, opposite the Collingwood Town Hall. It was 60-foot one way and just on 50-foot the other. I was doing wholesale fruit and veggie and eggs and flour at the Vic Market and the Footscray Market.

Crackers and fire trucks - Gigi's Story

hotelneon

When I was 7-months-old my parents moved to Simpson St, East Melbourne. It runs off Victoria Pde, parallel to Punt Rd. We lived near a park. On the far side of the park was my kindergarten. I loved that park. When I was a bit older, we used to go there and let off our crackers. Legitimate crackers that you used to buy at the milk bar on the corner of Victoria Pde and Punt Rd.

My school was next door to St John’s Catholic Church. I think it’s undergone renovations and is becoming something else now, something to do with the church. The church is beautiful. Because we were at the school we used to go next door to the church and walk around and cross the Station of the Cross and all that.

Then there was the fire brigade. We went to the fire station in kinder so I’ve got a photo of me sitting on a big fire truck with one of those heavy helmets on. I’m talking ’54 or ’55.

The other thing was coming down Punt Rd – we used to go swimming at Elwood. We would catch the bus along Hoddle/Punt. At one intersection, could be Toorak Rd, there was a hotel that had a neon sign with a bottle that used to tip and fill the glass. My father used to always tease me and try to close my eyes so I wouldn’t see this dreadful thing of this liquid going into the glass. It was just a joke. I was only about 5 or 6.

We didn’t often go down as far as St Kilda at night time. At the corner of Albert and Simpson Streets, where our house used to be, that’s now an apartment building. But opposite that, the little miner’s cottages are still there.

Beautiful places along there. If you go along Victoria Pde, you come to Smith St, where Mum used to do her shopping. There was a very good little shopping centre just near Victoria Pde. And also, after you cross Punt Rd going away from the city, there was a lovely shopping centre there. They had a secondhand bookshop, a huge hardware store that also sold wool by the ball, and things like that. That’s all gone, of course.

A thriving strip - Anonymous' Story

closedshop

In the 1950s, before the ‘slum’ demolitions began to widen it, Hoddle Street in Collingwood was a thriving shopping strip much like Smith Street is now. The original street ran between today’s median strip and the Abbotsford side footpath. There were pie shops, green grocers and grocers, butcher shops, a cinema and dance halls. And between Victoria Parade and Alexander Parade there were no less than five hotels. After a days work in the shoe factory Bryce & Duncan, women would often buy the ingredients for their families’ evening meal – then they'd shell the peas in each others company on the train ride home.

The Punt Road bus met with the double decker bus in Johnston Street. Many factories, mainly footwear and clothing, were in the suburb, and lots of workers cottages lined the streets. Many of the people living in the workers cottages were subsequently relocated into the public housing estate between Hoddle and Wellington Streets.