History articles

Outside Nott’s confectioners

Outside Nott’s confectioners

By Dr Cheryl Griffin This photograph was taken outside the shop of confectioner Thomas Nott in about 1900. He’d been in business for about 50 years by then and boasted that he made the best sweets for children in Melbourne. They were “thoroughly wholesome, absolutely pure”, according to his advertisements. And at first glance, if

Too thick to drink and too thin to plough

By Cheryl Griffin In the early 1970s, when I was a student at La Trobe University, I joined a folk club briefly where I was introduced to a number of modern versions of the traditional Australian folk songs that I’d always loved.  I don’t remember too many of them now, but the song about the

Rediscover the Flagstaff Gardens

By Dr Cheryl Griffin – Royal Historical Society of Victoria There are many reasons to visit the Flagstaff Gardens.  The gardens are of great significance to Victoria’s history. In many ways you can trace the vast social and technological changes experienced by Melbourne, by Victoria, by Australia and even by the world as you walk

Charles Troedel – a great Melbourne lithographer

Charles Troedel was one of Melbourne’s foremost printers in the latter years of the 19th century.  As a lithographer he was responsible for producing many high-quality images of early Melbourne.  He also employed and mentored several notable artists and developed lithographic techniques which allowed high-quality artworks to be made available to the public at reasonable

Napier Waller – a great public artist

By David Thompson Few people passing Newspaper House at 247 Collins St notice the colourful mosaic spanning the exterior of the first floor.  It is the work of Napier Waller, a Melbourne artist who is too little known and some of whose major works are on public view around the CBD. This 1933 mosaic portrays

The “Sands & Macs” – a goldmine

Melbourne historians owe a huge debt of gratitude to a Melbourne publishing company – Sands & McDougall.  Its foremost publication, the Melbourne Directory, is a prime information source for anyone tracing the history of buildings and people in the city and suburbs. The company had its beginnings in 1853. In that year John Sands, an

Colonial defence to history and music

At the corner of William and A’Beckett streets, opposite Flagstaff Gardens, nestles a red brick Art Deco building – one of the few remaining low-rise buildings in a sea of tower blocks. For more than a century, buildings on this site were associated with the defence of Victoria and Australia. To defend the Colony of

Melbourne’s first pop-up theatre

By David Thompson Few theatre-goers pushing through the crowded foyer of the Comedy Theatre in Melbourne take note of the brass plaque beside a door leading to the stalls. The plaque tells how “… George Selth Coppin, Philanthropist and Father of the Theatre in Victoria, Erected the Olympic Theatre on this Site in 1855”. The

“For women, by women” 

By David Thompson The Queen Victoria Hospital opened its doors in 1899 in Little Lonsdale St, near William St.  This was Melbourne’s first hospital for women and children to be staffed by female doctors, and was only the third such hospital in the world. The idea for the hospital came from Constance Stone who was

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