Most of Collingwood’s growth occurred during the gold rushes in the 1850s. The area's first subdivisions and land sales in occurred in 1838 and 1839, of these the riverbank allotments were most popular.
Municipality of East Collingwood
The municipality of East Collingwood was proclaimed on 24 April 1855, with the first Councillor elections held in October 1855, making Collingwood the second metropolitan municipal council to be established (after South Melbourne) and the first outside the Corporation of Melbourne boundaries. It was called East Collingwood because at that time Collingwood also included much of the area now known as Fitzroy.
In 1861 Collingwood had a population of 12,653 in 2,478 dwellings. The ‘Collingwood Flat’ contained some of Melbourne’s poorest dwellings and crudest subdivisions, with many of its buildings makeshift and unsafe. The Flat was notorious for its low rents and its floods.
Boots and breweries
The Yarra River became lined by industries such as abattoirs, fellmongers, wool scourers and tanneries, attracted by the source of water and the convenient waste outlet. Collingwood was also the base of Melbourne’s boot trade and four of Melbourne’s leading breweries. Other industries in Collingwood included brick making, quarrying, and textile and clothing factories.
Smith Street was one of Melbourne’s largest and most diverse commercial centres. Shops, homes and factories were all within walking distance of each other, as well as being well serviced by horse omnibus and later cable trams. By 1891 the population reached its peak at 35,070.
Like many poor areas, Collingwood was a tight-knit suburb and was famously the home of Collingwood Football Club. It was also the home of John Wren who ran a well known illegal betting shop.
In the 1960s and 1970s, the construction of the public housing estates, the Eastern Freeway, and the widening of Hoddle Street made dramatic changes to the physical and social structure of Collingwood. At the same time the area was already being revitalised by migrants from Italy, Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and, later, Vietnam, as well as young Melbournians who saw the advantage in living close to central Melbourne. These groups of people led to the redevelopment of the old housing stock.
Collingwood, Abbotsford and Clifton Hill Heritage Walk Part I
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Collingwood, Abbotsford and Clifton Hill Heritage Walk Part II
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Collingwood, Abbotsford and Clifton Hill Heritage Walk Part III
View Collingwood, Abbotsford and Clifton Hill Heritage Walk Part III in a larger map