North Richmond and Victoria Street Heritage Walk
Crown allotments were auctioned in Richmond, Fitzroy and Collingwood in 1839 - these were the first land sales outside of the township of Melbourne.
The allotments were intended to be farmlets, varying in size between 10 and 30 acres each.
Most of the purchases in Richmond (which was divided into 47 allotments) were speculative in nature, with many of the allotments being re-subdivided (into acre and half acre lots) and advertised for sale within weeks of purchase.
The six crown allotments bounded by Bridge Road, Victoria, Church and Hoddle streets were the first to sell on 1 August 1839. Of the six lots bounded by Bridge Road, Church, Burnley and Victoria Streets, the two southernmost lots (adjacent Bridge Road) were reserved for churches, recreation, produce market, schools and a mechanics institute. The two easternmost lots were sold in June 1849, and the remaining two were sold in May 1851.
Victoria Street was reserved as a government road in 1839. The road was originally called Simpson's Road, it was named after James Simpson, a magistrate who constructed a footpath and road in 1843 to serve his and neighbouring properties. The street was renamed Victoria Street in the 1850s, after Queen Victoria.
Victoria Street formed the boundary between the former cities of Collingwood and Richmond, and as such never had civic buildings, emporia or other grand buildings. Instead the western end of the street developed as a shopping centre for Abbotsford and North Richmond in the 19th century, lined by predominantly double-storey, terrace shops. The eastern end of the street was an industrial area comprising engineering factories and wool scouring industry.
During the economic boom in the 1880s many of the buildings along Victoria Street were reconstructed.
In 1884, the bridge over the Yarra River was constructed, which stimulated the subdivision of land at the end of Victoria Street. This bridge replaced a former ferry service.
In 1886, a cable car tram line ran down Victoria Street. This tramline was converted into an electric tramway in 1929.
During the middle of the 20th century the importance of the street declined, however the area has been revitalised in more recent years as the shopping and community focus for Melbourne's South-East Asian migrants.
The area north of Bridge Road contains the first parcel of land in Richmond to be bought in the 1839 land sales. It was the first area in Richmond to be re-subdivided and became the home of some of the first buildings to be constructed outside of the township of Melbourne.
North Richmond was the home of workers cottages and grand mansions. One such grand mansion was Coles Terrace, which occupied the land now bounded by Victoria, Burnley, Johnson and Buckingham streets until the 1890s, when it was subdivided.
Unemployment was a large problem for Richmond in the 1860s, which resulted in Richmond Council repealing the Yarra Pollution Act of 1855 (which forbade industry from discharging waste into the river). As a result, properties abutting the river were seen as attractive places to establish manufacturing. This saw the primarily residential / farming properties along the Yarra River being transformed into industrial areas in the 1870s.
As industry moved in, the standard of housing declined, with many areas being declared slums. In the 1950s and 1960s, large areas of housing were acquired by the State Government and these were bulldozed to make way for the North Richmond housing estate which comprises walk-up and high rise public housing.
As you walk around the area you will notice that as industry has moved out, these buildings have been adapted for other uses including residential and office.
Recent development in the area includes Victoria Gardens shopping centre and a variety of new buildings around that site which contain residential and office uses.
North Richmond is home to many public and private institutions including the civic centre of Richmond (town hall, police station, post office, and swimming pool), schools, and hospitals.
This walk is approximately six and a half kilometres in length, and will take about two hours to complete.
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Strategic Planning Branch