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History of Kensington

Page history last edited by Lenore Frost 4 years, 9 months ago

Time Travellers in Essendon, Flemington and the Keilor Plains




1905 to 1930


By Sylvester James Baker, 1976.




1. Detail of ‘V.R. Melbourne yard: proposed alterations & additions to trackwork etc., consequent on the removal of North Melbourne Loco Depot to South Kensington', 1926.  Courtesy of the State Library of Victoria.  Dynon Rd is at the top left of the plan.  http://handle.slv.vic.gov.au/10381/117428


In 1906 about 50 houses were situated at Brown’s Hill.  There were four streets, Swamp Road (Dynon Road), Lloyd Street, Ratcliffe Street and Bourke Street.  The houses used kerosene  lamps and candles; there was no gas or electric light at this time.  There were 2 shops to serve the people – Bradburys and Murrays.


The goods [freight] railway line was built about 1914, and the railway nursery had to be moved to Royal Park.  It was taken care of by Mr Hutt.


Minifies Flour Mill was built in 1907, and the Australian Mortgage Land in 1906.  They had a man with a horse and plough to remove a small hill from the land where the mortgage is now situated.


2. Australian Mortgage Land & Finance Co, South Kensington. Leader, 18 Dec 1909. Flemington Heritage Facebook.  


3. Australian Mortgage Land & Finance Co Ltd Building, South Kensington. Leader, 27 July 1907. Flemington Heritage Facebook.


When the State or Commonwealth elections were held, a polling booth was situated in the Wool Store.  New Zealand Loan was built before my time.


4. New Zealand Loan & Mercantile Agency, South Kensington.  Leader, 1 January 1901. Flemington Heritage Facebook.


Brown’s Hill had a football team. [This South Kensington team may have been the one mentioned.]


Dynon Road was built up about 6 feet in places.  The road would sink and the Council brought iron channels from Sydney Road and placed them there with a lorry and it saved the road being cut up.


There were three hotels in Brown’s Hill.  The Point Hotel is still there.  The Apollo Inn was on the corner of Dynon Road and Kensington Road, where the car-yard is now situated.  The owner was Mr McGrath.  It was closed in 1908.  When it rained, I saw the bar flooded because the road was built up in front and in the back the empty barrels would float around.  The Halfway house closed in 1908.


On the opposite side of Dynon Road was the pumping station. The Yarra river was straightened and they used the land to let the water in and out, while work was in progress.  The man in charge was Mr Doyle.


One of the people living there about this time was Pat Bourke who lost a leg in the Railways and was then the gatekeeper at Arden Street.  Other names were Ratcliffe, Healy, Church, Baker, Gellie, Joolan, Murray, Geeke, Zinnow, Brooks, Ness, Porter, Dwyer, Johnson, Williams, Hutt.


There was a chap who went under the name of “Doto”.  He would ride a bike at night (naked) and frighten the ladies who would have to walk to North Melbourne Station.  The late shopping night was Saturday and shops would close at 10 pm.


The railway brought their coal by barge down the canal from the ships and had a coal stage not far from Dynon Bridge.  It was all steam in those days and a lot of coal was required.


5. A coal stage at New Zealand Loan & Mercantile, South Kensington. Courtesy of the State Library of

Victoria Collection.  Leader, 2 March 1912.  Flemington Heritage Facebook.


The first tip I remember was in Lloyd Street, near Arden Street, then at the back  of the Council depot in Dynon Road and then the swamp.


We are used to seeing images of people in third world countries raking over tips, but this tip was at the West Melbourne Swamp. This image was taken by the slum abolition campaigner Oswald Barnett who began a slum clearance campaign in the 1930s. The image is courtesy of Connections UnitingCare and Picture Victoria.


Tin shanty made from rubbish tip. This image was taken by the slum abolition campaigner

Oswald Barnett.   The image is courtesy of Connections UnitingCare and Picture Victoria.



On a Saturday night the Herald Cart would come down with a load of papers to burn.  You would never see a motor car people used jinkers and horses.





In Arden Street, O’Meara did the carting of sugar from Yarraville to shops and depots in Melbourne. In Bruce Street, McCandlish had about 18 lorries and had a paddock from Bruce Street to Chelmsford Street, where he would place his horses for the weekend.  There was a hill on the Bruce Street end, where the people had their bonfires.  The area is now built on.


In 1910 from Bruce Street we saw Halley’s Comet.  It comes every 76 years and will be here again in 1986, then 76 years after in the year 2062.  It was in the sky for many nights.


In Fink Street Finlays had lorries, in Barrett Street were Mings.


When heavy rain fell Hardiman Street would flood and many houses had water in their rooms.


6. Hardiman St, Kensington.  The Telegraph, 8 July 1936.  Flemington Heritage Facebook.


Some of the people about that time were Neal, Foleys, Girvans in Arden Street, Kimptons, Andersons, Baker, Brown, Omant, Cameron, Strike, and Clark in Bruce Street.  In Elizabeth Street, Brown, Stewart, Meldrum, Williams, Ryans and in Fink Street Wrights, Finlays, Fleets, in Barrett Street McClive, Ryan, Collins, Swift, Gormon,  Hardiman Street, O’Connor, McNamara, Chelmsford Street, Harman, Maher, Klyne, O’Brien,  and Albermarle, Carter; Bell, Boss, Courtney, Eastwood Street Lockwood, Milburn, and Vincent has the shop in Albermarle Street.


At the corner of Macaulay Road and Barnett Street, a cooperage was run by Nicholls and Clark.


Opposite the Railway Station in Rankins Road, was a Billiard Hall.


Kensington Station had an entrance each end and in about 1914, the ramp was placed in Eastwood Street and ends closed.


In Rankins Road, opposite the Centennial Hotel was a vacant block.  It was the place where all the side shows were held.  The Hotel had a third storey but the top was removed.


In Racecourse Rd, the tram ran from Mt Alexander Road to Racecourse Road, via Princes Street, or the one next to it*. [*Victoria St, Flemington]


There was also a picture theatre called Sangsters [Sangston’s] in one of the two streets.


The Newmarket Theatre was built on a site that was a Hay Store.


Some of the people living around Rankins Road, etc, were Lou Nolan, Kevin Nolan, Parkes (Blacksmith), Talbots, Smyth, Walker.






7. Macaulay Road, Kensington, looking south towards closed railway gates.  Flemington Heritage Facebook.


Some of the shops in Macaulay Road (Barbers) Fishers opposite the Hotel. Bohmer next to the Paint Shop, also Warner and Martin in Bellair Street. Fruit – Favalora and McFaddenMrs McFadden had a shop on the corner of Gower Street and the kids would go in and ask for ½ penny of specks, not too many pineapples.  Newsagent – Sharps and Bowers; Drapers – Middletons, Chemist – Arthur Vale, (Butcher) SuttonsMcKelvie and Raisbeck,  Grocer, Cuskelly, Johnson, Jones, later P Glynn. Dentist – mousey Morris, Henry Street, Doctor – Moss, later Currell.  A Dr Spring had rooms in McConnell Street, and would come down each day from Moonee Ponds.  Undertaker – Chas P Frilay, Gower Street. Later take over by Metal Factory at present time vacant land.


8.  Sharp’s Newsagency and Circulating Library in Macaulay Rd, circa 1907. From The Coming

of the Trams, by James McJunkin.


In Bellair Street Shehan the Dentist had a house and was later taken by S.S. [State Savings] Bank.


Sport, Football – E Laidlaw and Tick Shorter (Essendon) S Witman (Melbourne); Cricket – Johnson, father and son, well known; Swimming – Jim Wilson, C Healy and F Melville played football with North Melbourne.  Both good players. H Mogg and H Hunter.


Council – B B Deveney, Melbourne City.  If alive today would be 101.  Birth 7.12.1875.  His son Bill was a good runner and jumper at school.  If about would be about 76.


Bill Carey was a boxer who lived in Kensington.


J J Holland elected to Parliament also a Councillor.  Son Hardiman was a generous man, also his family.


The Police Station was in Wight Street, then to McConnell and Wolseley Parade.


9. Flemington and Kensington Town Hall, Lenore Frost 2011.


During the Conscription Campaign meetings for and against were held in the Town Hall.  One night when the people for Conscription was held, the wires were cut and the Hall was in darkness, that was 1916 and 1917.  The Influenza epidemic was bad in 1919 and the Town Hall was used as a Hospital; people would go to work in the morning and by night they were dead.


Harry Foulder was a local Bookmaker who lived in Bellair Street.  He was a very charitable man and helped many people plus all sporting clubs.  A cricket team was named after him.


The people of Kensington were a great people.  Their parents mostly came from overseas and they made their homes in Kensington and raised their families.  They were all great citizens.



10. Kensington State School, McCracken St, Kensington.  Lenore Frost 2011.


In McCracken Street there was the State School and the Head Teacher was Billy Burston who wore a top hat, then Mr Scott and Morrison.  Also on the staff were Mr Nutt, Dumy Walsh and Mr Little.


Opposite the school was a tuck shop owned by Mrs TillyFrank Parker had a shop on the same side as the school.  The Lavender Family and the Howes were living in the street.


The Boy Scouts started in Kensington in 1917 and I understand that the first Scout Master is still about, Mr A Robbins.  He was a great man and helped the scouts.  At the top of Macaulay Road was the Cooperage owned by the Patricks.  Now a car-yard.  The area bound by Epsom Road and Footscray Road was known as Wight’s Hill.  It was cut up about 1912 for housing.  George Harrison the jockey lived in a house in the area called “Outlook” or similar name.


In Epsom Road were the Porter family, who played a big part in Kensington. They had a shop there.


South Kensington had a Railway Station with a bridge similar to the one in Footscray Road and vans would drive through to Dynon Road.  The railway reduced into present subway. To look at it today, you would not think it was possible for a bridge below the line.  The station had ramps up to the platforms.


In 1916, the Melbourne Cup was postponed due to flooding. In those days, the Ascot Thousand was run on the Wednesday.  When the Cup was postponed, John Wren run the Thousand on Cup Day and a record crowd was present.  They had nowhere else to go.  The Ascot Course was opposite the Showgrounds and now flats are built there.


I was present as a kid at the opening of the North Baths, and also the Lost Dogs Home, but as these are outside Kensington I will not comment.


In Ormond Street lived Mr Milburn who was one of the Engine Drivers in the Sunshine smash in 1908.  He lived many years after his retirement.  Also in Ormond Street lived the Grays, Tyndell and Henderson, Woods and CorcoransMick Gorry had the Bay View Hotel.  Hardimans was the Clarence Hotel.


Bay View Hotel, South Kensington (Photo:  Lenore Frost, 2010)



Hardiman's Hotel, Macaulay Rd, Kensington, formerly known as the Clarence Hotel. The building was refurbished

in the 1940s. (Photo:  Lenore Frost 2011). 


The Catholic Church was on the corner of Derby and Ormond Streets, and was moved to Gower Street in 1929.  The first parish priest was Fr Hennessy, 1915.  Mr Edwards was Minister at Church of England.


In making up a history of Kensington, many people and events may have been left out but I am sure that other people would be able to fill in the gaps.


We had a local paper called the Flemington Spectator, and gave the weekly news of the district.  It was printed in Puckle Street, Moonee Ponds.


I have done my best in the reports.  I lived in Brown’s Hill, Ratcliffe Street about 1905 to 1910.  Bruce Street, 1910-1918. Wolseley Parade 1918 -  --


I have been asked to write, otherwise I would not try and make out I know a lot, but what I have given are facts.



Sylvester James Baker, 1976.

With kind permission of Kathleen Baker.



Image credit

Special thanks to Flemington Heritage Facebook for their splendid collection of images from Flemington and Kensington. 



Some of the streets and families mentioned by Sylvester Baker had family members who joined the 1st AIF in the Great War.  You can see the Kensington streets and men involved at The Empire Called Website.


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