Melbourne Odds and Ends

My street

I was going to write about the garden. However, last night I researched people who had lived in my street. I was intrigued by some of the stories, and I thought you might be too.

This interest has come about from my home being, in an artistic sense, my place. I know some of its history, but wanted to find out more about the people who lived here. I didn’t find any thing about them, but I have a better sense of the unofficial history of the street.

I used the excellent resource Trove, a site with indexed, digitalised, Australian newspapers, maps, images etc. It is indeed a treasure trove!

I typed my street name and suburb into the search engine. The search was not precise, as it included mentions of the suburb and often the abbreviation st, so I had to winnow out the relevant articles.

Articles were from the first half of the twentieth century, and as was the way, usually included a house number with the street name. Now I have a list of at least a quarter of the occupants who lived the street from 1913 to 1968. Some of the information came from death notices and obituaries (“A quiet gloom was cast over Ascot Vale Parish when it became known that Thomas Loughnan….”), one from a notice of a 50th wedding anniversary.

Others came from citizenship notifications, which showed how migrants moved into the suburb in the 1960’s. My next-door-neighbours were there.

I picked out these stories for you. Some of them were rather gruesome, but I suppose that is the way with newspaper articles ~ the more sensational the better.

  • 1917: Mrs Norrish won 7th prize in the Sisters of Mercy raffle. No mention of what the prize was, but you do wonder.
  • 1918: WG Werry was noted for his results in a hen competition
  • 1918: Miss Emmins ran a first aid class as she was a bandaging instructor.
  • 1922 William Morley was fined 5/- for smoking in a non-smoking train compartment, costs were 7/6. That seemed rather out of whack.
  • 1915: John McIver, a fireman, presumably on the trains, had his foot cut off by a train in a workplace accident. Imagine the ongoing trauma this would have caused.
  • There is no date for this one, but it must be early. “‘Joy rider’ jolted from jinker”. James Dillon, who lived elsewhere, stole a pony and jinker from the Ascot Vale Hotel. He drove it in circles in my street until the wheel hit a curb and he was jolted out.
  • And on horses….in 1934 one crashed into a tree, completely wrecking the cart. The horse bolted through several streets “with the shattered shafts trailing on the ground”. The horse was found a mile away, uninjured, grazing in a paddock.
  • 1967 Mrs V. Obese (how real is that name?!) was mentioned in a women’s magazine for her great tip on how to dry a tea cosy. You drape the damp cosy over the warm teapot and it dries in shape.
  • 1951 Patrick Heard, who lived in my street was admitted to hospital with shot-gun pellets in his left leg.

My favourite concerned Charles Allsop, who lived in my street. It was a story that went over a few articles. Allsop, a bookmaker, sued a farmer in Thorpedale for damages to his reputation. The farmer believed Allsop had short-changed him over a bet he, and called him “a robber, a thief and a welsher” at a few race meetings. The defence argued that as Allsop had been a drinking partner of Squizzy Taylor, a notorious criminal, and had been disbarred, he had no reputation to loose! Unfortunately that argument didn’t fly, as Allsop was awarded 80 pounds compensation.

I wonder what noteworthy events are happening in our street now. What will someone find in another 50 years? With the demise of suburban newspapers, probably not the same wonderful tit bits.

Of course, all of this happened on land on which First Nations People had lived for many thousands of years. I respectfully acknowledge the traditional custodians of this land on which I live – the Wurundjeri Woi-wurrung People of the Kulin Nation, their spirits, ancestors, elders and community members past and present. Their land was never ceded ~ Always was, always will be Aboriginal land.

21 replies on “My street”

What a fun and interesting exercise. I’m a fan of Trove… very useful when doing family history research. Also I belong to a few Facebook groups that post historical bits and pieces about the towns I grew up in, and they often find gems via Trove. Your neighbourhood sounds fascinating… Squizzy Taylor… I think we all recgnise that name. I’m not even going to type Taylors Arm into Trove until I have lots of spare time to run with it!


Not getting into Trove unless you have lots of time sounds like a great idea! I suspect that Sqizzy Taylor’s image has been romanticized over the years. However he was a nasty piece of work.


how amazing to find the titbits that often was in local and national papers – I’ve some paper of my Mothers, that had recipes printed on them, always with some elegant ladies name as the originator of the recipe. The wife of Mr Arch….the esteemed court judge or Mrs Stric…of Remuera
ummm I wonder if there’s a similar website for NZ…

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What an interesting street you live in! Many years ago I tried to work out where exactly my paternal grandfather was born. My Father’s sister told me it was in Maenchlochog which is only a few miles from here. The census returns held in the County Library were very useful though I am not sure we identified the farm which seemed to have been merged with another and lost its identity. Do you have a census as we do every 10 years? If so those ecords might add to your knowledge.

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It can be difficult to get that last piece of information. Did you know your grandfather grew up so close to where you live? We do have the census, but I am not sure how the information is organised. There are great volumes called Sands and McDougal held in the State Library. They have information of residents in each street in Melbourne for a particular year. I will go and have another look through them….Some time!

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I only discovered he lived near here after we moved in and my Aunt told me. I have a photo of him as an old man and heard stories but he died a few years before I was born so I never met him.


I knew my father grew up in Llanelli where his sister still lived and we visited often. I always liked the area but we had to move further West to get a place within our budget. I was always very proud of being half Welsh and regarded this as my ‘proper’ home.

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I’m ashamed to admit I’d never heard of Trove until I read your article, Anne. I too love unearthing the history of the places in which I’ve lived. I think I have some troving in my future. 😀


Oh, I am sure you will go down many rabbit holes, Meeks. Sands and McDougal are also another fascinating resource for specifics about streets. The State Library has volumes, and, as it requires moving through a number of volumes, using them in person is easier.

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