222-224 Flinders street warehouse victorian 1850s dangerfield

Several Heritage Buildings Under Possible Threat From Metro Rail Tunnel

With yesterday’s announcement by the state government of the acquisition of numerous properties to enable the construction of the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel, it has become clear that a number of heritage-listed properties are likely under threat.

MHA is keeping a watchful eye on this situation, pending clarification of whether the plans will involve actual demolition work, and what scope those works might encompass. Documentation released by the government to date appears to indicate they would consider retention of existing structures where it were deemed feasible. We will keep everyone updated on developments.

222-224 Flinders street warehouse victorian 1850s dangerfield
Contemporary Facade

222-224 Flinders street warehouse victorian 1850s dangerfield
Facade, mid-20th Century

222 Flinders Street

Probably most prominent amongst the threatened sites is the former warehouse building at 222 Flinders Street, directly next to Young and Jackson’s hotel.

The building dates to 1856 and its Statement of Significance states, “of the early stone warehouses in the city, this is among the most complete articulation of exposed stone and finishes  at the earliest date.” In other words this is our third OLDEST (we have two others dating to 1854), relatively intact stone warehouse, and the building is worthy of preservation on that basis alone.

However, as the Statement continues, “it is also part of a valuable stone warehouse streetscape, built at the height of gold-led prosperity and evocative of the new transport mode (railway) which had begun to supersede the Yarra as the means of obtaining shipped goods.”

Read more about the building’s history HERE

franklin street melbourne gossards corsets wire factory edwardian
493 Swanston Street, 1913

franklin street melbourne gossards corsets wire factory edwardian
Gossards Building, 1906

Gossards flanklin street cyclone wire fence Melbourne heritage edwardian
Gossards Lingerie Showroom Interior, Franklin st, c.1930’s

Gossards flanklin street cyclone wire fence Melbourne heritage edwardian
Gossards Lingerie Showroom Interior, Franklin st, c.1930’s

Gossards flanklin street cyclone wire fence Melbourne heritage edwardian
Gossards Lingerie Showroom Interior, Franklin st, c.1930’s

franklin street melbourne gossards corsets wire factory edwardian
External Signage, Gossards Building

Former Cyclone Woven Wire Fence Company/Gossards

The former factory buildings of the Cyclone Woven Wire Fence Company sit at the southeast corner of Franklin and Swanston Streets. The property actually sites two separate buildings, with that fronting onto Swanston likely most at risk.

The Franklin Street building is the older of the two, dating to 1906, becoming paired by construction of the new Swanston Street building in 1913. The lower of the two cornice lines seen in the image below was the original roofline, with the additional levels being added in 1914. These are in fact extremely well preserved and representative examples of Edwardian factory building style.

Cyclone was an important part of Melbourne’s early twentieth century industrial landscape. They actually began life as “The Bee-Keepers Supply Company” in 1877, but soon found much bigger markets for their licenced fencing products.

The designer of the buildings is not known, but the complex is reminiscent of factory design work by A & K Henderson in Collingwood and Clifton Hill.

By 1925, the Franklin Street building had become Gossards famous corsetry showroom, and some spectacular interiors from this period still survive, as shown below.

Flinders street Melbourne Port Phillip Arcade
Contemporary Interior

Flinders street Melbourne Port Phillip Arcade
Contemporary Facade with King Neptune Sculpture

Flinders street Melbourne Port Phillip Arcade
Photo: Wolfgang Sievers, 1969 (National Library of Australia)

Flinders street Melbourne Port Phillip Arcade
Photo: Wolfgang Sievers, 1969 (National Library of Australia)

Port Phillip Arcade

The third property under threat is the Port Phillip Arcade. Designed by architect JFW Ballantyne, and built in 1961, it was sadly significantly altered inside in the 90s, but retains the key original checkerboard carborundum flooring and skylight features, as well as its mid-century facade featuring a central mosaic tiled spandrel with semi-figurative metal sculpture representing either King Neptune or Poseidon by renowned artist Charles Bush, whose work features prominently in the NGV permanent collection.

This was originally the site of a large house, “Hodgson’s Folly”, later leased by the Port Phillip Club until 1843, when it became Port Phillip Hotel, with JP Fawkner and Edward Scott as licensees, which operated for over 100 years, closing its doors in 1959. (source: Graeme Butler 1985 heritage survey)

The arcade is within a heritage precinct, and losing the building’s facade at least would negatively impact the Flinders St streetscape.

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One thought on “Several Heritage Buildings Under Possible Threat From Metro Rail Tunnel

  1. I know it’s unrelated to the fact that the buildings are under threat, but I’m pretty sure that’s Triton, Poseidon’s son, on the Port Phillip arcade. Poseidon didn’t have a mermaid tail; his son Triton did, and he used the trident as well. When there’s an ancient statue of a god carrying a trident, you search for the mermaid tell to tell if it was Triton or Poseidon.

    I wish more was known about this artwork… I got here by searching for Charles Bush, because there’s a building at 99 Hotham St, Balaclava with an abstract metal wall sculpture on it, of seven figures, that I suspect is also by Bush but I can’t find any record of who the artist was.

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