Fifty years in Fitzroy's Corner

Wednesday 25 September 2019

The Fitzroy Residents Association’s Martin Brennan, Brian Howe and Erin Tidswell remember the iconic Save Fitzroy Pool campaign.

Above: The Fitzroy Residents Association’s Martin Brennan, Brian Howe and Erin Tidswell celebrate a milestone five decades in the making.

Most people remember 1969 as the year we landed on the moon, but it was also a big year for people power in Fitzroy. 

The Fitzroy Residents Association (FRA) was formed to push back against planned demolitions and to help preserve the unique qualities of a storied suburb. Former Deputy Prime Minister Brian Howe served as the FRA’s first chairperson.

With the FRA celebrating its 50th anniversary, current chairperson Martin Brennan is reflecting on some of the achievements of resident action. None loom larger in the public’s imagination than the successful 1994 campaign to save the iconic Fitzroy Swimming Pool by the Friends of the Fitzroy Swimming Pool. The FRA has also campaigned for important community services, and against what they saw as excessive or inappropriate development.

“Fitzroy is special because it has a strong sense of place that captures the interest and imagination of residents and visitors,” he says. “We all become part of that sense of place and what Fitzroy reflects in terms of its diversity, interests, passions and ideas. That’s the fabric that makes up Fitzroy.”

Martin believes that healthy dialogue between Council and community leads to “outcomes that benefit the city and its residents.” He also notes that these connections “need to be worked on, not only by Council, but by the people who live in a city.”

That’s why we’re so fortunate to have an organisation like FRA helping to drive the conversation.

Membership in the FRA is open to all residents and friends of Fitzroy. Visit to learn more and get involved.

Discover Fitzroy's heritage

 We asked Fitzroy Residents Association Chairperson Martin Brennan to choose some of favourite Fitzroy locations using PastPort Yarra.

The PastPort Yarra website allows you to zip around a map of Yarra and zoom in on areas of historical significance.

You can read about the history of each site, view photos and add your own thoughts and materials. Some photos even have ‘before’ and ‘after’ sliders illustrating the passage
of time.

Visit to begin your journey.

Some of Martin Brennan’s Fitzroy favourites

  • 8–12 Spring Street, Fitzroy – Now the home of Meridian Sculptures, this elegant brick building began life in 1886 as a ginger beer factory run by R. Harrison Pty. Ltd.
  • 19 Victoria Street, Fitzroy – These apartments retain the distinctive exterior of the Universal Theatre, a much-loved comedy venue that operated from 1970s–1990s.
  • 251 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy – The Alimentari Eatery and Delicatessen occupies a remarkable corner building dating back to the Victorian era.

Contact Yarra Libraries on 1300 695 427 if you have questions about PastPort Yarra.


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