Sunday, February 17, 2008

Prahran Pt 1

This building is known as Pran Central. Prahran, the suburb name, is of Aboriginal origin, originally spelt by white settlers as Pur-ra-ran, meaning surrounded by water. Many would remember it as Moore's Corner Store. In the eighties it underwent a massive renovation and in the nineties apartments were added within the building. Inside on the ground floor are a few shops and many eating places of the type you would find in any outer suburban shopping centre. Above the ground floor is a Medicare office, a women's only gym and a few other small businesses.

My great grandmother used to harness her horses to her sulky and visit Chapel St, and more specifically Moore's, from their market garden where Monash University is now located in Clayton. Chapel Street was a premium shopping centre then with many department stores. It became quite run down in nineteen seventies and eighties but by the nineties it had once again become the place to be seen, especially the area where I seldom go, north of Commercial Road, or the Wankers Mile as I call it.

In the second picture down, it has another name and I had never heard of this, but it would seem it was called Read's Stores. Anyone know anything about that? In the third picture down there seems to be the letters C, R and M. Perhaps Moore's CoRner. In the fourth picture down there is some beautiful ironwork at the bottom of the picture. In the fifth picture, we can see the domes on top from our apartment. The tall buildings are the South Yarra public housing high rise towers.






39 comments:

  1. Searching PictureAustralia.org for prahran and read(s) brings up some good pictures, and reveals that Charles M Read's was a department store.

    And evidently the Prahran Hotel was on the site of Pran Central until 1910.

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  2. Thanks Daniel. Now you mention his full name, I remember hearing or reading it somewhere.

    Prahran Hotel is now in High Street but its original site is another bit of interesting info.

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  3. Found this and similar bits to what Daniel's already mentioned.
    http://www.walkingmelbourne.com/building655.html
    Beautiful architecture and great pics Andrew :)

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  4. Wow, thanks Jayne. Although I have contributed significantly to walkingmelbourne, I only ever look at the forum. Look at 'buildings' is added to my very very long list.

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  5. I adore buildings with domes.

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  6. My mother had an account at Reads.
    She grew up in that area and went to St.Josephs school in Fitzgerald St.
    Reads went broke in the Great Credit Squeeze of 1962, possibly caused by my mother's account ...

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  7. The corner was known as Read's corner for miles around. I got told off by an old lady for running diagonally across to it to post a letter as a five-year old. My old man who was fond of startling people with definitive statements said Chapel Street had the largest shopping centre outside the city, and he was probably right. Read's is where he bought me a cowboy suit after asking directions to the toy department from a store dummy, then laughing about it for years afterwards. If you stand in the carpark behind Coles you'll see some of the original store names embossed on the rear of the buildings, I think Foy and Gibsons (Foys) is one of them.
    I grew up in Hazeldon place; a tiny dead-end Street. Our house was number five, down at the end, left hand side. Dead opposite was Kurl's lolly factory, the little brick building is still standing but is something different now, and the four house are gone, replaced by tatty little buildings even uglier than the houses were. Opposite where the flats are now in Simmons Street was the Ecks lemonade factory which was owned by my paternal grandmother's family. They also owned the houses in Hazeldon place and gave one to my worthless father so he'd always have a roof over his head. I recall many of the shops around that part of Chapel Street, and the people too, most of whom were poor decent types along with a few crims and gunmen. That part of Chapel Street now would take first prize anywhere in the world for vulgarity. The jackasses sitting there or parading along teaching dogs good manners are ghosts already.

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  8. Starting with the big one in Washington Daisy Jo?

    That credit squeeze affected my parents too Ann.

    Great local colour Robert, thanks.

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  9. My grandmother's maiden name was Ecks, and someone in her family owned the lemonade factory. What makes me laugh is the place wouldn't even give my old man a bottle of lemonade for free. We were passing there one day with him wobbling about a bit when he asked two blokes standing at the loading dock for a bottle whereupon they pointed to a bottle of plonk poking out from his inside coat pocket and said something like, "Why don't you drink that?" They knew him, and that was the trouble

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  10. Bluestone lanes have been ripped up around that area and widened into streets, and it gets me mad. A few years ago I was driving through the new street that runs behind the old Morning Star pub on the corner of Simmons and Chapel Streets, and which continues on up behind the old Baptist church where there was also once a lane, and I was just dawdling along there feeling rather sentimental about it all when two trendy dames in a car behind tooted me to hurry up and I went fucking beserko! I wanted to knock their hairdos together, but instead gave them a mighty two fingers to say UP YOUR CRACKS! Because if anyone ever had a tribal area this was mine, and I'm furious at what's happened to it, furious at the mini celebrities draping themselves all over it, and mad crazy especially at being ordered by this shit to hurry on.

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  11. I do love the Windsor end of Prahran. Beautiful old buildings with a slight hint of decay, such as the building in which J.B. HiFi is housed.

    Another favourite is the Love & Lewis building, next to what is now Coles.

    Speaking of beautiful decay, have you been to see The Ballroom exhibition? http://www.stkildafestival.com.au/alliance-francaise

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  12. Oh my golly, Loves...You shouldn't have said that. Loves. I'd forgotten all about them. You could get credit so easy. They started it. And suddenly the lower orders were dressing in hire purchase: time-payment clothes. Loves. Dear old thing. Funny about capitalism, you learn to love the bomb.

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  13. Lowering yourself by reacting Robert. Just ignore them, as frustrating as it may be to follow a dawdling driver.

    MD I may still get to that exhibition. The ballroom will be restored, but when is unknown. I always associate JB with Dan Murphys. Used to be a heap of artists lived above. Love and Lewis apartments, but with no car parking. Looked at one once, rabbit warren inside.

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  14. Sentimental reverie should never be disrupted. But you're right of course, driving is no time to be doing it.

    Love's was a store very prominent for advertising its clothing deals, you could open an account for various sums of money. I just faintly remember the place, and only because I once saw a ruffian entertain fellow ruffians by seizing some poor ragged dero and yelling, "Hey! You should go to Love's! Get an account!"

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  15. Funny Robert. Reminds me someone telling me the other day about a derro in a boarding house who received a Bank Card when they first started. Of course he spent the $500 credit and never paid.

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  16. I know what you mean about the Love & Lewis apartments. I had a look at one about a year ago, place was like a bloody sauna with very little natural light.

    Still, the brickwork and exposed signage inspire me.

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  17. Anonymous1:43 pm

    Thanks for the background RH. I live at number 5 now and it's a good place to be. It's quiet (even with the bomb crater they have just dug out the back for some new apartments.
    Over the road (number 2)(Kurl's? I ate their lollies I'm sure) is a production studio. Peter Churcher (painter) had a studio at number 1 next door for about 10 years. There are some weird and wonderful people living in and around the area, even in the commission flats. You are right about that end of Chapel St.though. I always turn left out of Hazeldon.
    I am so pleased to know that other people lived in a house there. Was it demolished around 1950 would you say?

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  18. Thanks Anon. I will make sure Robert sees this.

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  19. The whole area was demolished in about 1966, I heard the Housing Commision bought it all to build the flats in Simmons Street. I'm pretty sure the numbers in Hazeldon Place run: I, 3, 5, down the left hand side and 2, 4 (Kurls little factory), down the other, which means Churcher would have had number 2, not 1. I'm greatly surprised that you'd be living in number five, because just like the rest it's a commercial building, or appears to be anyway. The back area you mention was once a scrubby old reserve, but it was fairly large and bordered by Simmons Street. The buildings in Hazeldon are on the same plots the houses occupied. You get some idea of how tiny ours was when the frontage is barely five metres.

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  20. Anonymous8:43 am

    I'm surprised that the houses were demolished as late as 1966. The detail looks a little older. Very well constructed actually compared to many similar vintage buildings. Peter Churcher was in number 1 which is to the left of number 5.
    Number 1 and number 5 are actually around 10 metres wide each which means that there must have been two houses at the current number 5. And Peter must have taken the old number 1 and number 3. Working Dog are at number 2 over the road (Kurl's). My place is more a studio than a home but I suppose it all comes down to definitions and (pre)conceptions of what a home should be. I like the sound of the scrubby old reserve out the back. When the excavators moved in I was watching for signs of old habitation but saw none. I'm so pleased that number 5 wasn't a knackery or heavy metal dump.

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  21. Anonymous2:27 pm

    I'm surprised that the houses were demolished as late as 1966. The detail looks a little older. Very well constructed actually compared to many similar vintage buildings. Peter Churcher was in number 1 which is to the left of number 5.
    Number 1 and number 5 are actually around 10 metres wide each which means that there must have been two houses at the current number 5. And Peter must have taken the old number 1 and number 3. Working Dog are at number 2 over the road (Kurl's). My place is more a studio than a home but I suppose it all comes down to definitions and (pre)conceptions of what a home should be. I like the sound of the scrubby old reserve out the back. When the excavators moved in I was watching for signs of old habitation but saw none. I'm so pleased that number 5 wasn't a knackery or heavy metal dump.

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  22. Robert and Anon, it is worth catching the Rennie Ellis photo exhibition at Fed Square. There are some photos of people in Prahran and perhaps Windsor streets, perhaps in the 70s. It looked very working class and a bit grimy, kind of how I remember it a bit.

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  23. The detail looks a little older?

    What detail? I don't know what you mean.

    The ex-lolly factory should be number four, and next to it: number two, would have been the residence of my greatest childhood pal: David Tregulas.

    Number one was occupied by people named Mitchell: granny, mother, and red-headed son Robert.
    Number three was occupied by an old duck rarely sighted.
    Number five was my place: parents and seven kids.
    Opposite was the little brick lolly factory (now a 'production studio'), next to that and slap bang up against it was a house with a narrow concrete veranda. A family named Tregulas lived there. They had a son, David, and a daughter, Joan. Robert, David, and myself were about the same age and very good friends.
    Behind the houses on our side of Hazeldon was a reserve bounded by Simmons Street, and the side wall of the Ecks lemonade factory which faced Simmons Street. On weekends the older kids would get over the brick wall from inside the reserve and toss down bottles of soft drink from Ecks' yard, the younger gang would jerk the factory's trucks around the reserve by putting them in gear and pressing on the floor starter.
    Our place was a typical 'worker's cottage' except the old man never worked much. He was a carriage cleaner at Jolimont rail yards. (Mind you, the trendoids now occupying these 'worker's cottages' don't work much as well -nothing that's useful anyway.)
    Our place, number five, had a narrow passage down the side with two bedrooms coming off it, then a main room with gas stove, fire place, and cold water sink. There was also an empty space beyond the main room that might once have been a bathroom.
    The small rear yard was hard-packed earth, with a wash house, dunny, and little shed, all in line. The back gate opened on to the reserve where I often sighted daddy stumbling home from the pub.
    Our family broke up when I was six and the kids all went to separate places. My sister Lynette got the best deal, I got the worst.
    I believe the old man remained living there until the mid-sixties at which time the Housing Commission bought up the whole area, demolishing about two hundred houses.
    Hazeldon Place is not Housing Commission and I've no idea what happened there, but it's definitely commercial, not residential. You may have number five but I don't believe you'd be living there, not legally anyway.
    And who'd want to? It's commerce: 1960s rubbish buildings: ugly, depressing, bloody awful.

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  24. Yes. Thanks Andrew.

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  25. Aside from latte definitions (which to posterity won't matter) conceptions of what a home should be are decided by municipal councils. If you're living in that shitty little building I'll have to come and see. I've lived in homeless men's shelters and derilict cars. Public parks and prisons. I've slept up laneways with washing pulled from someone's line. In America I saw people with mobile homes in the form of pushing all their belongings about in supermarket trollies. When I was young being a vagrant wasn't fashionable, you could get jail for it, and I did. Meanwhile old vagrants have never been fashionable, and never will. I've got no patience with display: poseurs putting on a show, the only genuine show is a show you pay to see.

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  26. I'd never heard of Churcher, had to look him up. According to Wiki he's "entered at ten Archibald prizes and been hung six times."
    Wooh! Does that mean he's the man they couldn't root shoot and electrocute? ha ha ha!
    Well I ain't been hung for bad verse yet.
    Do some more research, check your plans, there was a milk bar halfway up Simmons Street, almost opposite Hazeldon. Find out its history, it's important to me.
    And listen, you're doing a poor job of being anonymous, Jack and Julie -and even the Copperwitch Anonymous, would be disgusted.

    Silly little boy.

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  27. Son of Betty Churcher I suppose.

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  28. Anon I've experienced some harrassment online lately and thought you might be playing a joke on me. And so I've exaggerated my criticism of that locale but in fact am glad to hear of its connection to artists and so on.

    -Robert.

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  29. Anonymous3:56 pm

    Thanks Robert. I was beginning to think I'd offended somebody (or everybody?). I was only being an interested but quite innocent bystander. Pleased to know I was mistaken. JD

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  30. Anonymous4:15 pm

    RH. This little black duck doesn't find humour in harrassment. Good either is or is not in us - not in the stuff around us. Having said that,the place around there is pretty good most of the time these days - quality riff raff. JD

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  31. The inner slums were all the same, big crims moved out. John Wren moved up to Kew and looked down on it all, what a mess. People minded their own business, they wouldn't dob to the authorities, and that was the trouble. They were sympathetic alright, but helped out on the sly, giving someone's kid a wash or a piece of fruit, and by the time social welfare turned up it was beyond disaster. Nice upbringing is its own disaster, trying to hide it calls attention, like putting your hands over your privates. Anyone posing as riff raff has to try too hard.
    I hope you'll keep reading this blog, I hope it's interesting for you. There's lots to do nowadays, but it always comes back to speech, words, talking to people and talking about them. That's what culture is, at its best.
    I love gossip.

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  32. Anonymous10:24 pm

    RH you asked about building detail. There is plenty of detail at number 5 which might date it earlier than '66.
    The concrete floor slabs are unusually flat and quite thick. Better quality concrete and construction than became the practice in the sixties. They were done by someone who cared about concrete. I thought Nino Culotta or William the Concretor. And the steel window frames -not aluminium or timber. The old heat banks (now removed) on the site appeared very home-made and immediately post war - but they may have been a relic.
    There was a fair bit of broken cast iron under the ground which appeared to be of the current building vintage rather than from a predecessor. The curly wrot iron grille across the front- a little more naive than sixties. No concrete blockwork - all clay brick. Windows and details more from an austere palette of found objects, but nevertheless fairly similar to a lot of other warehouses in the area. Frankly, I don;t know when the buildings sprang up. Other than between 55 and say 65. They do have a solid honesty and I like them a lot. JD

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  33. JD, thanks for continuing to contribute. There is clearly a lot of history in your street and area. If it helps, Heat Banks were around in the 1970s and heavily marketed by the State Electricity Commission, SEC, before any of the gp knew about filthy brown coal.

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  34. I was still living there in the early sixties, the house was still up. The local council could tell you exactly when it was demolished.

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  35. Anonymous2:22 pm

    Well RH if you were living there in the sixties that settles it.
    The heat banks were enormous but may have been put there by the stonemason who had the building prior to me over twenty years ago.
    These banks were pre SEC type heat banks. There was around 10 of them, each the size of a 44 gallon drum and they weighed as much as if they were full of water. I have no idea what was inside them but I think they were a wartime or immediately post-wartime home-made job. They were electric and I've never seen anything like them since. This is good finding out some of the history of the area. I'll make a point of visiting Federation Square to see the Ellis exhibition. Meanwhile I will continue to poke around for scraps of history as I can and if I find anything further I'll pass it on. JD

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  36. I have typed a lengthy article twice ,only to lose it. Very annoying!

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  37. I used to be taken to "READS OF PRAHRAN" in the 1940's
    In the 1970's I used to call on the company, representing my firm. It was then trading as "CHARLES MOORE READ" They had several other branches, including one in Perth WA. When the Prahan Store closed down, the head office remained on the top floor for quite some time, before moving to 74 Queens Road, opposite Albert Park Lagoon. I can also tell a few interesting stories about the building, but having already typed the whole thing twice and then losing it, I am just about to give up!!!!
    jdecd

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  38. Sorry that you had difficulties JD. I would interested to hear more. Someone told me that the southern part was condemned as unsafe and its use was stopped. 74 Queens Road rings a bell for me. I think it was recently demolished.

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  39. Anonymous9:09 pm

    I wonder if anyone has a photo of the original house at 5 Hazeldon Place opposite number 2 which was the old lolly factory where I think 'Redskins' were made?
    JD

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