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An Investment in the District

Newmarket Terrace, Flemington’s longest row of adjoined Victorian terraces, was built in 1890 to the order of Josiah Prout, who moved to Flemington in about 1887, ran for Flemington and Kensington Council in 1889 and subsequently served as Mayor.

When running for Council, the North Melbourne Advertiser (Sat 3 Aug 1889) reported that Prout said he had 10 or 11 years’s experience of “road making” and “had travelled all through the colony with a swag on his back, and had watched the development of hundreds of towns from bark and calico to stone and brick.”  If elected, he promised to do his best to further the interests of the borough.

There are reports Cr Prout carried cards proclaiming he was Mayor of Flemington and Kensington until fellow hotel proprietor, TJ Gurney of Gurney’s Hotel, brought him down a peg.  Gurney obtained some highly ornate cards struck off with the notification “Thomas James Gurney, Mayor of Australia”.  As the yarn goes, after seeing these, ‘Siah Prout stopped handing out his cards (Otago Witness, 29 Dec 1898).

Prout would have been justifiably proud of leaving a legacy in Flemington, including Newmarket Terrace, which of course remains standing almost 125 years later.

The building of the terraces, and Prout’s determination to support the local community and local workers, was described in the North Melbourne Advertiser:

“Improvements at Flemington”

Amongst the latest improvements in Flemington is a terrace of ten brick houses, built to the order of Mr J. Prout, of the Newmarket hotel.

Situated in Princes street, in one of the highest spots in the borough, the structure has a frontage of 160 feet by a depth of 95 feet, substantially put together on a solid blue-stone foundation.

Each house contains five rooms, with all the modern conveniences. The yards are all asphalted, and are constructed in such a way that a couple of pails of water will suffice to clean them at any time.

In the construction of these villas Mr Prout has employed none but local labour, and the mere expenditure of money thereon has been a very good thing for the local tradespeople, while the erection of such a handsome property in the neighbourhood must be a distinct gain to the borough.

The builder’s contract price was £3,444 10s, and the land added another £1,000 to this sum.

Mr W. Boreham, of Victoria street, was the architect, the work being carried out under the supervision of Mr W.C. Hawkins.  The contractors were Messrs M. Dixon and Sons, who deserve every credit for the way in which they have done their work.

Mr Prout shows good sense and sound faith in investing so large a sum of money in the district, and it is to be hoped that other gentlemen who make their money locally will follow his example.

North Melbourne Advertiser, Friday 27 June 1890, page 2

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