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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.