By Sean Car
Heritage Victoria has given the City of Melbourne the go-ahead to undertake major heritage restoration works to preserve Queen Victoria Market’s historic open-air sheds.
As a key component of the council’s $250 million market renewal program, Heritage Victoria recently approved a permit for on-site restoration works, which Lord Mayor Sally Capp said would commence in May.
“These important conservation works will be carried out across 12 sheds – covering three hectares of the seven-hectare site – and will improve the heritage experience for customers and the operating environment for traders,” Cr Capp said.
The permit approval for the major works follows an initial restoration trial that is currently nearing completion at the Peel St ends of sheds A and C.
The shed restoration was one of the recommendations made by the 40-member People’s Panel in December 2018 and the Lord Mayor said it would be closely managed to reduce disruption to traders and customers.
“We’ll be working closely with traders to ensure they have all the support they need to continue to run their businesses throughout the restoration, including signage and individual business mentoring through our $8 million Trader Connect Program,” she said.
A City of Melbourne spokesperson said that due to the “scale and complexity” of the heritage restoration, traders would need to be temporarily relocated, with works to be undertaken in stages over “a number of years”.
The council said that conservation works would include painting and restoring timber posts, beams, structural steel, gable ends and verandahs, while structural upgrades would include installing bracing components to areas that required reinforcing. A process to appoint a contractor to carry out the conservation project is still underway.
Listed on both the National Heritage List and Victorian Heritage Register, the council’s chair of arts, culture and heritage portfolio Cr Rohan Leppert said all sheds would be repaired and restored.
“The open-air sheds are an important part of the market experience, with many of the sheds dating back to 1878 when the market had its grand opening,” he said.
“These works are vitally important to ensure the sheds do not deteriorate beyond repair, and will preserve them with as minimal impact as possible.”
“We want to retain the characteristics that reflect the historical use of the market, such as dints and grooves on posts that that date back to when customers and traders hitched their horses to the posts 100 years ago”.