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The gates of Flemington Primary School were originally the entrance to Flemington House (established 1854-1856), an opulent mansion set on the grounds of what is now described as Travancore and comprising an artificial lake under the mansion, a Corinthian colonnaded portico and a huge ballroom. Flemington House was built by Hugh Glass, a squatter and early Flemington pioneer. The property was later owned by Henry Madden, who renamed the house and estate Travancore. Madden exported horses to a British army post in the Kingdom of Travancore, India (present day Kerala).
When opened in 1923, Flemington State School was described as one of the finest in the Southern Hemisphere, and its hilltop location commanded views out to the Bay. The new building’s 10 classrooms were designed to accommodate 768 pupils (although only 570 attended in 1924). Conditions were a vast improvement on an earlier school, built in the 1850s on the other side of Mount Alexander Road, and known as ‘the iron pot’ because its corrugated iron structure was intensely hot in summer.

An Investment in the District

67-75 Princes Street

Built in 1890, Newmarket Terrace is the legacy of Josiah Prout, proprietor of the Newmarket Hotel and Councillor and Mayor of Flemington and Kensington.  The terrace has the distinction of being the longest row of adjoined Victorian terraces in Flemington. But more than that, it was owned and commissioned by a local, designed by a local architect and built using local labourers. Prout was determined to leave a legacy for Newmarket. Almost 125 years later, a few crumbling parapets aside, his investment remains standing.

Canterbury Street Stables

47-53 Canterbury Street

Julius Gove, a horse ‘exporter’, purchased the house that used to sit in front of this building, built in 1903. He improved the property at the rear of the house to service his business including this stable. The residential character of the stables is evoked by the typical Edwardian period chimney. Architecturally this is a near complete example from a limited group of surviving 19th Century urban stables of this size. The stables are now used by the local community for a variety of purposes, and sited in a lovely park.
Many Italian shoes have danced the night away at 9 Wellington Street since the Floridia Club set up there in the mid-1970s.  In 1915 the City of Melbourne effectively shut down the masonic hall on that site by banning dancing on the premises!  Kensington Lodge No.77 was built in 1913 its history goes back to 1884, when Kensington was added to the Hotham Lodge (consecrated in 1862). After a hiatus at the Flemington Kensington Town Hall, arising from the dance ban, in 1925 the Masonic Lodge moved back into to Wellington Street.  A second floor was then added to the premises.  The dancing has continued from then on.

Dewey Decimal Disease Prevention

44 Pin Oak Crescent

‘Girdwood Hygienic Library’ appears above the door to what is now a popular local cafe. Private lending libraries striving for greater hygiene arose from fears from the late 19th Century onwards of books being the carriers of disease. To give people peace of mind, each book in the Girdwood Hygienic Library was wiped down with formaldehyde to reduce the risk of germs spreading via fingers touching “contaminated” books. Such libraries existed until the 1950s, when greater health awareness coincided with increased funding for public libraries.

Doctor Cahill's Flemington Practice

125 Wellington Street

Flemington’s most prominent GP, Dr Henry Joseph Cahill conducted his practice at “Hillcrest”, his large Queen Anne style bungalow, from when it was built in 1918 until he died there in 1953.  Dr Cahill, surgeon for the VRC and Moonee Valley Racing Club, was also called upon to assist at the Court House and Flemington Kensington Bowls Club, to deliver babies (including quads in 1917) and in emergencies such as the great tram collision of 1923, when 88 people were injured on Mount Alexander Road.  The premises continued as a surgery until the 1970s.

First past the post

6, 8 and 10 Glance Street

Named after champion racehorses, Mentor, Lochiel and Carbine are three attached brick town houses in Glance Street. Mentor won the Melbourne Cup in 1888 (called the Centennial Cup that year to commemorate the 100th anniversary of White Australian settlement). Mentor was owned by Donald Wallace and trained by Walter Hickenbotham, who also owned and trained Carbine, the winner of the 1890 Melbourne Cup. Known as “Old Jock”, Carbine was a New Zealand stallion popular with racing fans. Trainer James Thompson owned Lochiel, whose first important win was the VRC Newmarket Handicap of 1887. Lochiel beat Carbine in the 1889 Australian Cup. If the 1888 and 1890 winners had houses named after them, what happened to the 1889 winner?

Flemington Kensington Bowling Club

Cnr Racecourse Rd and Smithfield Rd

The Flemington Kensington Bowling Club is not only our most enduring local sporting organisation, but also our longest-lasting cultural and social institution. Founded in 1892 by some of Flem Ken's pioneers, the Bowls Club has for over 115 years been a gathering spot for sport, entertainment, political debate and good times. From the very beginning it was envisioned to be a "rallying centre where the residents could meet each other, not only for amusement, but for the discussion of matters of public and local interest." It has done that, with barefoot bowls and hipster beer and more.

From furniture to fast food outlet

97-99 Mount Alexander Road

The fine Gothic Revival corner shops at 97-99 Mount Alexander Road had a longstanding connection to the hotel on the other side of Victoria Street.  The shops' past also reflects changes in the population of Flemington. Publican of the Cricket Club Hotel, John Glover, built them in 1886.  By the 1960s the shops were owned by the Italian operator of the pub.  By the seventies other new migrants, from Greece and Yugoslavia, were serving up fish and chips to locals.  By the 21st century the shops accommodated a fast food outlet and an Indian deli, with Turkish kebabs available around the corner.
Fashionable higher-density living before higher-density was in fashion. While Melbourne expanded, GH Limb built Shirley Court Flats in 1939, the first multi-unit housing in Travancore. Proving that density can be stylish, the flats combine gabled and curved forms, as well as neo-Tudor, Moderne and Bungalow housing styles. The flats were designed by James Wardrop, the architect of the Shrine of Remembrance.

Horses and Sheep at Emilyville

98 Ascot Vale Road

In the 19th century horses were bred and trained at “Emilyville”, the grand property at 98 Ascot Vale Road (c.1883), and exported to India.  By the early 20th century, sheep were shorn in the sheds.  These days the relatively intact stables remain out the back, with the long-gone era also reflected in the garden layout, including the giant twin palms.  But there is no more horse training.  These days the house hosts a training institute for Western Autism.
Constructed in 1914, the Substation was designed by the Railways Department, adopting a neo-classical style on a grand scale for a utilitarian structure. The substation became operational in 1918 as part of the program to electrify the Melbourne suburban railway network. The three mature Canary Island palms in front of the Substation date from about 1930.
In 1882 Flemington and Kensington ceded from the former Municipality of Essendon and Flemington, formed 20 years earlier, but there followed many years of debate over the siting of our Town Hall. One temporary location was at New Hall at 323 Racecourse Road, where there is now a two-storey Asian grocery. The richly decorated Bellair Street premises opened in 1901, operating as a civic centre for only four years, as Flemington and Kensington then joined the City of Melbourne. The Town Hall held the Flemington Kensington Library until 1965.
Reputedly one of the first bridges in the Colony, there have been logs across the Moonee Ponds Creek here since the early 1830s. If you follow the walking/cycling path under what was once described as Mains Bridge and then Flemington Road Bridge, you can see the structure combines girders and piers of an 1870s iron bridge with reinforced concrete deck, piers and girders. Prior to 1913, when this became the first tramway bridge in Victoria with reinforced concrete girders, the old iron girder bridge was not strong or wide enough to take the tramline, so passengers had to walk 200 yards between connecting tram services!
The flats beside the Saltwater (Maribyrnong) River have been home to horse racing since 1840 and the Melbourne Cup has been run there since 1861. In 1886 Flemington Racecourse was the site of Australia’s first cinematographic newsreel and in 1965 the place of international scandal when model Jean Shrimpton caused the Miniskirt Affair. From Epsom Road you can see the beautiful former Convalescent Jockeys’ Lodge, built in 1897 to assist injured jockeys, and the famous rose gardens.
Following the opening of the stockyards, Newmarket Station opened in 1860 on the new Melbourne and Essendon Railway Company Line, run by Hugh Glass (the owner of Flemington House). The current buildings were erected in 1925 to replace the uneven wooden platform and obsolete building. The associated rail sidings extended along land now occupied by housing in Newmarket Street and beyond, as far back as Ascot Vale Road. The venerable River Red Gum on the west embankment is most likely a self-seeded progeny of the indigenous “giant trees” early surveyors described as characteristic of the area.
This triangular wedge of buildings includes the former ‘church-like’ Flemington Court House, built in 1889, and the police station and lock-up constructed in 1889 and 1890 respectively. Designed by AJ McDonald (who worked on the post office), it embraces the ‘Battle of the Styles’ well known for public buildings at the time, with such influences as Italian Byzantine, Lombardic Romanesque and monasteries from the 13th and 15th centuries.
The bluestone house at 24 Ascot Vale Road is unusual in Flemington for being pre-Boom Period architecture.  It remains on a large block that once extended to Racecourse Road and contained a network of stables.  The house was built in about 1875 by the Mortison family, who were involved with horse trading and had a network of stables on the property. Horse trainer William Burke later purchased the house and adjacent property.  He developed two bungalows next door in 1927-28, ultimately living at 22 Ascot Vale Road.  All three buildings remain.  But there are no longer any stables. The only link to the racing industry now is possibly jockeys seeking treatment from Flemington Chiropractic, which is moving into 24 Ascot Vale Road!

One park, many uses

Travancore Park

Wetlands and billabongs; grazing land; ornamental gardens for opulent mansion; golf-course; dog park. These are just some of the many uses that what is now known as Travancore Park has been put to over the centuries. As part of the gardens of Flemington House, it was reputedly home to kangaroos, emus, deer, llamas and camels! When Travancore was subdivided in the 1920s, it came complete with its own 9-hole golf course. Today Travancore Park is valued open space for residents and the favourite exercise ground of many a pooch.
For most of Wellington Street, looking towards the east you can see a huge white/blue ‘cloud’ structure on top of the Holland Court Housing Commission block. This is a third lift, completed in 1995 by Ashton Raggatt McDougall architects as a small replica of Oscar Niemeyer’s St Francis of Assisi cathedral in Brazil, and is meant to ‘suggest real recreation functions such as a swimming pool, a gym, or even a restaurant.’ Since being built in the 60s, the Housing Estate, adjacent to Debney’s Park, has enhanced the multicultural mix of Flemington.
There are a few stables remaining in the backyards and alleys of Flemington, a couple in Newmarket still in use, but none as grand or likely to be as old as those in Crown Street. The stables were constructed in 1886 by Joseph Cohen to accommodate six horses at the rear of a large, now demolished, timber house facing Coronet Street. Built of brick and gabled, the stables were used by horse trainers and later, during the First World War, by the Light Horse Brigade.  They are now being converted into a community arts space. An oculus (eye window) looks out from the south, keeping an eye on the park.
Art and charity have long been generated from “Bolinda” at 43 Kent Street, built in 1884 by “gentleman” Isaac McClelland.  The workshops at the rear produced art and furniture and from 1917 hosted the studios of then emerging artist Harry McClelland.  During WWI there were fundraising events, including art sales, for the “Starving Belgium Babies’ Milk Fund”.  The McClelland family ultimately moved to near Frankston, where they formed an artistic and philanthropic community and ultimately bequeathed the McClelland Sculpture Park and Gallery.
Park View was built in early 1925 by self-taught blacksmith and jinker-builder Jim Byrnes, who owned a horseshoeing business a few doors away. The unusual Swiss Chalet style of the house and decorative features include rampant terracotta kangaroos on the gables and a kookaburra stained glass window. Many aspects of the house stem from the shortage and expense of traditional building materials between the wars, with the house constructed in solid concrete reinforced with old tram cables and other recycled materials. The iron panels in the unusual front fence are apparently recycled from the Flemington Racecourse Members’ Stand, demolished in the 1920s.
Owned by Flem-Ken councillor Thomas Miller and the social hub of Newmarket then and now.
The Doot (established 1888-9 and designed by Harry Lording) is a unique part of our heritage; unique because it is remarkably well preserved; unique because it is still a living part of our community. Just as many hungry and thirsty stockmen did in the 1890s, residents and visitors to Flemington still enjoy this pub for great food and drink. Check out the Latin inscription behind
the bar.
In 1885 James Urie (a glazing and plumbing supplier and one time Mayor of Flemington and Kensington) built the house on the Farnham Street corner, before the Catholic Church acquired it for a presbytery. Ironically, Mr Urie proudly laid the foundation stone for St Stephen’s Presbyterian Church in Norwood Street in 1888. St Brendan’s School was built in 1914 and the Church in 1923 after the Sisters of Mercy and their students transferred from the old Church Street site used since the 1880s. The mansions on Church Street were built in 1889.
The land for our beloved Post Office was purchased in 1889 for £400, with the plans originally made for an estate agent. The Crown acquired the plans and only modified them slightly to build the brick and bluestone building in 1890, costing £4,061. This signalled the start of the shift of civic buildings from Mount Alexander Road, from where telegraph services are reputed to have operated from 1846. Mr Stephens was the first postmaster to work here, earning around £120 per year and living onsite in the upstairs residence. Next time you buy stamps, check out the stained glass windows depicting native fauna and flora and the heritage-listed counter.

The Long & The Short of It - Nathan’s Terrace

4-14 Wellington Street / 1-11 Shields Street

These two house rows were built for furniture retailer Samuel Nathan. The terraces are located on sloping ground rather than ‘stepped’ so the houses have a uniform cornice line, resulting in the villas at the lower end of the street having taller elevations than those at the top of the street. The Shields Street houses had one less room than the Wellington Street homes. The architect, William Wolf, was responsible for many ornamented hotels of the 1880s-90s.

What is the New Market? Newmarket Saleyards

Racecourse and Smithfield Roads

Established in 1856, the Newmarket Saleyards were just that – the new market for livestock (previously on the current Victoria Market site). By 1888, when Melbourne’s population touched half a million, a similar number of animals passed each year through the markets. In the 20th century, it was the world’s biggest livestock auction market. If you think traffic problems and air pollution on Racecourse Road are bad now, imagine the traffic jams and smell caused by several million braying bulls and bleating sheep. The market closed in 1985, making way for a new generation of locals in the Lynch’s Bridge and Kensington Banks estates.

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