Saturday, August 30, 2008

Don't believe your eyes

I spent a couple of interesting hours this week roaming the streets of North Melbourne. I found some great old sign pics for the 'top secret' project. There are three places opposite the North Melbourne Town Hall to have coffee. I chose the busiest one, the one where all the criminal looking types seem to get their caffeine fix, the ones who are yet to graduate to Lygon Street.

It had slipped my mind, but emblazoned on a kind of annex to the town hall was Hotham Free Library. North Melbourne used to be known as Hotham.

Opposite where I was sitting was this very elaborate drinking fountain. It was donated by a previous mayor of Hotham, a Scottish immigrant called Thomas Henderson, when his term ended.

Even back then we relied on imported goods, and the the fountain was cast in Glasgow. It was originally installed right in the middle of Queensberry and Errol Streets, and then moved a couple of times before ending up in its present location outside the modern post office within the old town hall.

The fountain was restored by the City of Melbourne in 2000.

Of course back in days of old, it would not have had chrome bubblers, but very hygienic cups suspended on chains. In fact what is there now is an absolute fake and not at all an original drinking fountain. It is the fine print.


  1. Anonymous11:23 pm

    It most certainly is.

  2. I hope you haven't been drinking from it. In Scotland they're used as pissoires.

  3. Sometimes coming home from Thornbury I get a takeaway pizza from that middle cafe. They're very good, and the girls are lovely. Just around the corner there's a collectables shop, lots of lamps, light fittings. Did you see it?

    North Melbourne is very nice, still ancient, still knockabout.

  4. Anonymous6:26 pm

    R.H, I live in Thornbury, and I can tell you that the 'middle cafe' serves very unconventional pizza. Now I know this isn't relevant...but Green's furniture shop is about as collectable as a nuclear warhead.

  5. Anonymous8:38 pm

    Ha! I can see that "Thoughtless Idiot" ( ) wasn't there that day!

    Walker :)

  6. To the casual observer Reuben, they would never know.

    I must have went around a different corner Robert.

    See what you mean Walker. Would you believe I also to a picture of McDonald's old house too? Once home, I noticed I had also taken an old sign picture, Nestles Chocolate on the side of the building next to the house.

  7. Hi Andrew

    Is it just me or does anyone else think this looks like the skeleton of R2D2?



  8. Hurstbridge line, great old signs on backs of factories.
    Too fast for me to capture with camera :(
    Love that fountain - can I have it in my front garden?

  9. Yep Pants, I see where you are coming from girlfriend.

    Yes Jayne, I guess there would be. Isn't it a great suburban train trip?

    I think Ben wrote about the Wattle Festival once too.

  10. Who's talking about Thornbury? I'm talking about North Melbourne. The cafe is in Errol Street, the Collectables place is around the corner in Queensberry.
    I cut through Queensberry to get onto Dynon Road (Gateway to Footscray: Asia and Africa).

  11. Andrew,I have been finding a few old signs lately. Do you want donations? I have also noticed some on the backs of buildings on the Belgrave line.

  12. There's a similar fountain in Nelson Place, Williamstown. It's on a corner of Commonwealth Reserve, right opposite the old Customs House. (Or it was the last time I saw it, these things tend to move around a bit).

  13. Please do so LiD. Either take a photo, or if it is the inner area, just tell me where it is. It saves me a lot of time if you can give a street number and a street if appropriate. The map is on the side bar under Melbourne's History in Old Signs, to see if I already have it.

    I know it well Robert. I think it is a real one.

  14. Anonymous5:07 pm

    Oh it was implied that you live in Thornbury.

  15. It wasn't, but that's okay.
    I'm in the western suburbs.

  16. fight! fight! fight!

    On the fountain. I don't know if it's just me, but a lot stuff the Victorians came up with is pretty hideous (or viral as my 9 yo niece would say). There are of course nice things too.

  17. It was not a thing of beauty Ben. A little bit of Victorian goes a long way.

  18. Andrew, I have posted some old signs today that I have found about the place. I am only too happy for you to use any of the images that would suit your project. Or if you need any more info just let me know.

  19. Thanks LiD. Most kind.