History articles

The forgotten telegraphist

The forgotten telegraphist

By David Thompson On the William St wall of the Supreme Court building in Melbourne there is a small plaque, ignored by most passers-by, which commemorates one of the most significant events in the history of Melbourne and indeed Australia. That was the opening in March 1854 of the first electric telegraph line in Australia

Where government found a home

By David Thompson Although today Spring St is synonymous with government, in Melbourne’s early days, government was centred on the western end of what is now the CBD. Superintendent La Trobe and other government officials occupied a range of temporary accommodation in the area, including John Batman’s old house near Batman’s Hill. In 1843 James

Where “Chloe” once hung 

By David Thompson, Royal Historial Society of Victoria The curious passer-by in Lonsdale St may wonder why an old-fashioned pair of wrought iron gates, slung between two stone pillars, stand in splendid isolation beside the modern office buildings at No. 460.  A closer look will reveal the word “Rostella” amongst the moss and other growths

Palace of Winged Words

By David Thompson, Royal Historical Society A 19th century three-storey redbrick building in Wills St in the CBD hardly rates a glance from most passers-by who are unaware that this building was once Melbourne’s first purpose-built telephone exchange.  Although now surmounted by a multi-storey apartment block, externally the lower three storeys still retain many of

“The Smith House” – 300 Queen St

By David Thompson, Royal Historical Society of Victoria The Lord Mayor lampooned and criticised for questionable electioneering tactics! No, not 2018, we have stepped back in time 167 years.  The Lord Mayor was John Thomas Smith, known as the “Dick Whittington of the South” as he was seven times lord mayor between 1851 and 1864.

Melbourne’s 1854 Exhibition 

By Rosemary Cameron, Royal Historical Society of Victoria In 1851 London staged The Great Exhibition in the Crystal Palace, Hyde Park.  Six million people passed through those crystal doors and the event became a defining point of the nineteenth century. Spurred by London’s success, industrial nations competed to showcase their innovative engineering and scientific advances.

Perhaps a book for Christmas?

By Richard Broome, Royal Historical Society of Victoria In November-December the RHSV is gearing up for Christmas.  Our bookshop offers many fascinating books on Victorian history which are available online through www.historyvictoria.org.au or by direct purchase from our premises at 239 A’Beckett St. On offer will be many books from the recent Victorian Community History

Fink’s Buildings

By Kate Prinsley When built in 1888, at a cost of 110,000(pounds), Fink’s Building was one of Melbourne’s tallest office blocks.  Designed by noted Melbourne architects Twentyman and Askew (also responsible for the Block Arcade), the building epitomises the speculative early 1890s period. It was built by and named after the notorious land financier Benjamin

Finding ghosts and inspiration in Chinatown

By Tristan Davies, Melbourne Heritage Action It’s mid-afternoon in Melbourne and I’m surrounded by the familiar heritage buildings in Chinatown, though without much time to appreciate them. In a rush on the way to a workout before an appointment, I decide to take a shortcut via Brein Lane, which leads from Little Bourke St into

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