Collins St has been Melbourne’s best-known and most fashionable street since the 1840s.
Part of the Melbourne grid plan drawn up by Robert Hoddle in 1837, it was named after Lieutenant -Governor David Collins, leader of the unsuccessful 1803 Sorrento settlement. It contains much of the city’s best and most beautiful commercial architecture.
The first blocks were sold in June 1837. The block between Market and William streets was reserved for the Western Market, established 1841. The Melbourne Town Hall block was reserved on the Swanston Street corner.
Most activity in the 1830s was to the west of Elizabeth St where many of Melbourne’s merchants had their offices. Some of the first shops established in Collins St were draperies, haberdasheries and ironmongers.
This photograph shows the Royal Bank and the Victoria Street cable tram. Melbourne’s cable tram system was constructed in the 1880s and replaced earlier horse-drawn buses. The Victoria St line was completed in 1886.
By 1891, Melbourne had 44 miles (70 km) of double-track tramway, powered by 11 engine houses. Cable trams were replaced by electric trams from the 1920s.
The Royal Historical Society of Victoria is the historical society for the City of Melbourne.
It is open to the public and can be found at 239 A’Beckett St, Melbourne.
Currently it has a wonderful exhibition on the history of Melbourne’s suburbs.
Further information: www.historyvictoria.org.au and 9326 9288.