Monday, September 09, 2013

More Inner Circle

Travelling to Melbourne's Heildeberg by train in the year 1900 was a torturous adventure. You caught the train at Spencer Street which set off on the Upfield line as far as Royal Park where it then went along the Inner Circle railway line and joined what is now the main line at Rushall where it headed south back towards the city. The line finished at Collingwood and  the train stopped a station short at Victoria Park, crossed over tracks and then headed north on its way to Heidelberg.

This rather explains what Marcus helpfully showed me with diagrams. It was a dual line, rather than a single one that you would expect for a quiet local railway line. It would have seen many trains a day, far too many to be a single line with passing loops.

By 1910 the mess had been sorted out with the the gap between Collingwood and the city, Flinders Street Station, constructed and thereby giving a more direct route and it would have saved a lot of time if you were travelling by train to Heidelberg.

The above was also the same for users of the Whittlesea line, without the need to travel to Victoria Park. That is Spencer to Royal Park on the Upfield line, then onto the Inner Circle and then a leftish turn near Rushall. Yes, the train went on past its recent terminus of Epping, now re introduced to South Morang and continued on with stations at South Yan Yean and at Yan Yean before terminating at Whittlesea.

The part I was most interested to walk was Lygon Street to the old Fitzroy Station, located in the middle of Edinburgh Gardens in Fitzroy. While I wasn't directly setting out to find why a train terminated in the middle of a park, it was niggling at the back of my head.

In  one of my earlier Inner Circle walks, works were happening along the Inner Circle railway parkland and so instead I walked along Brunswick Road/Holden Street where a tram line used to run. This time I started at Lygon Street and closely followed the Inner Circle line.

Inner Circle Royal Parade to Lygon Street.
Inner Circle parallel disused tram line.
Inner Circle Royal Parade to Royal Park Station.
Inner Circle Lygon Street to Fitzroy Station.
Inner Circle Lygon Street to Rushall.

Ah, I viewed this building from afar when I walked the old tram route. It is cable engine house for the Rathdowne Street cable tram, also know as the North Carlton tram. Unlike most Melbourne cable trams, it was not replaced with electric trams but buses in 1936. It headed towards the city straight down Rathdowne Street, right into Elgin Street, left into Lygon Street, onto Russell Street and right into Lonsdale Street.

Just a little wall decoration on what could be a nice house if you took out the modern aluminium windows. Let me rethink. No, it is not a very nice house, aluminium windows or not.

Not much in the way of evidence so far. I believe these villas are public housing and were built right where the train tracks were.

Very nice brickwork.

A new path and I think they have every user covered. I was quite surprised by the number of cyclists using the path. I really had to be careful to stay to the left and not do anything erratic while walking.

St Ali in South Melbourne is famous for its coffee. They have a branch here too, nearly at the corner of Nicholson Street in Park Street. I would have liked to take a wider picture, but there were so many people looking my way.

Aha, evidence as I crossed Nicholson Street.

A Railway Hotel where there is no longer a railway.

These poles are quite different to earlier overhead support poles, but they follow the path of the line.

A fine row of peppercorn trees.

Further evidence, although what it is, I am not sure.

Double track remains as I cross Rae Street.

This building spoke of something to me, so I took a snap or two. Once home I discovered it was once the power house for the Inner Circle line.

Even more tracks. This must be where the Inner Circle parted, with one line to Fitzroy and the other to the mainline at Rushall.

This is a very odd piece of railway line, set in concrete. No idea what it is about.

Yes, the line peaks through grass here and there.

In parts, it looks like the reservation is still there, just needing some tracks.

The path curved right and I crossed St Georges Road. Funny little thing to do to fence.

I really don't know if I am still following the train route. There is a lack of evidence and houses are quite close on both sides. This is looking back towards St Georges Road.

I am happy now. There is evidence again. Look how close the train was to the houses!

This sheet of hard plastic circles the tree to prevent possums climbing into the tree and damaging it. Someone has been creative.

Here we go into Edinburgh Gardens.

I diverted slightly to see what this thing is. In spite of reading a sign with information about it, I was not much the wiser. It is temporary modern art.

This is what used to be here, good old Queen Vicky, she of a dour visage.

And it seems here is the end of the Inner Circle Railway line, right in the middle of nowhere in a park. Or is it nowhere? Was it? Find out another day in the last of ICR walks.

This post is dedicated to an ex work mate Rene who died a week or so ago at the age of 52. He was of Italian parentage and grew up in Brunswick and used to ride in what Rene called the caboose of the ICR train (freight line only by then). He was only boy and the guard who used to heat up milk on a pot belly stove in the caboose to make Rene a cup of Milo.


  1. RIP Rene, fifty-two is too young to die.

  2. What a nice sightseeing tour ! I love the house with the faces and the drawings on the street !

  3. Thank you for the tour, what a lovely tribute to your friend.

  4. That's a nice long walk with plenty to see along the way.
    52 is too young to die.

  5. It is Victor, apparently stomach cancer but I suspect that it might be a cover for something else.

    Thanks Gattina. It is better than a bare wall.

    Cheers Jayne. See my reply to Victor.

    River, my feet were not too crash hot by the end of it. I caught the train straight to town and a tram home. A nice young man kindly offered me a seat on the tram. I am still surprised when this happens. Do I really look so old?

  6. Red bricks in public buildings are normally too Sydney for my taste.. we should be using stone, cream bricks, timber or renders. However I must admit that the cable engine house for the Rathdowne Street cable tram looked good, as did the the power house for the Inner Circle line.

    What are those two buildings being used for now?

  7. Hels, surely bluestone is our brick material. I have a great fondness for cream brick veneers of the 50s and 60s. The ICR power house seemed to be offices, the cable tram engine house, I really don't know.

  8. I love the row of peppercorn trees

  9. Rene would (or will depending on what you believe) have loved this post Andrew. Nice piece of detective work here with interesting sights along the way..excellent tree face :)

  10. Another interesting tour.. thanks yet again, Andrew.

    Duh me.. a Railway hotel near no railway. Of course.

  11. Keith, they don't look so old. I am used to them being very old and gnarled.

    Grace, I think he would have. Some more detective work coming. Or perhaps a duh moment.

    FC, in spite of our best efforts, Jayne of OGSL and myself could never work out why the Junction Hotel in Oakleigh was called that. There was no junction that we could discover.

  12. These photos are the closest we have to a selfie... a finger in one and a shadow in another! :P

  13. Fen, I did get the toe of my shoe in a photo once.

  14. Hi Andrew,

    I think I can solve the mystery of the short section of rail track that is set in concrete and has a steel surround. I think its the remains of a weighbridge. Check out the diagram at, you will find one marked on the siding next to Macaulay station. I realise this is not going to be the one you have the photo of, but it may be on one of the sidings that used to be along this railway line. Other diagrams for the inner circle line can be found at, just look through the list for stations like North Fitzroy, North Carlton, and Royal Park.

    The brick power substation building you have a picture of is marked on the North Fitzroy to Merri diagram.

    There is also a very similar building still standing near Footscray station.


  15. I forgot to add a link to a couple of pictures, the first link is the junction near Royal Park station, where you will see there were indeed 3 sets of railway tracks under those extra wide steel support structures as you had suggested a few posts ago.

    The next link is to a picture of Steam Locomotive K174 which sat for many years in the Edingurgh Gardens next to the inner circle railway.
    This Locomotive is now in many pieces which have gone to a variety of preservation organisations.


  16. Thanks Pippa, great links. I see I do have the railway site bookmarked, but it was a bit lost among many other railway website. It is a great resource. Yes, that track and concrete was the perfect length for weighing a coal wagon.

    What a big undertaking to move the engine to Moorooduc.