The walk from Richmond station to Church St is an architectural ascent from industrial urbanisation to the pinnacle of refined living. So follow me for a little urban exploration.
Street art and the remnants of an industrial past lie just outside the northern exit from the railway. There is a homage to Lou Reed secreted on a wall around the corner of Botherambo Street or you can cut through the heart and solidity of the AKM (Australian Knitting Mills) complex which was constructed from 1899 – 1912.
Cross over Tanner St into the maze of streets and laneways where there are cottages of all shapes and sizes. Some have been gently revived while others – (if you continue up Woodlawn St) – have had their humble single fronted street fronts transformed into tardas-like super homes.
The shops on Lennox St have a familiar jumble of red bricked add ons and corrugated iron shedding out the back while their fronts are worn with a gentle shabbiness. There are still some notes of the textile industry of the area with independent tailors and factory outlets for clothes and lingerie. Even pedestrians here can be obligingly colour coordinated (as below right)!
Turning right off Lennox St the hill rises steeply along the superbly named Firebell Lane – (presumably because at some point it met the fire station on Church St).
On the shoulder of the hill sit large square buildings, some recent, some adapted from older storehouses, which must have held much of the materials produced or required by the manufacturing energy of this part of Melbourne.
Take another left from Fireball Lane and right onto The Vaucluse and you know you are approaching the gentile side of Richmond where the ‘rural retreats for gentleman’ were laid out by Robert Hoddle in 1837. Hoddle was directed by the Deputy Survey General of NSW to subdivide the land into 25 acre lots to allow for the burgeoning population growth of the city rather than the 100acre farms Hoddle had originally proposed, so grand buildings would have been a must here.
A small number of superb colonial homes still sit along the crest of Richmond Hill, sheltered by glossy gardens and offering a glimpse here and there of a more refined life within the iron lace balconies and stately arched windows.
So in this short distance from the river to the top of the hill the Parish of Jika Jika (as Richmond was known at the time) provided a home for industry, workers and the elite who could afford to live above the risk of the flooding Yarra and the blight of the industrial pollution below them.
The hill was topped for God with a string of fine churches – St Stephens and St Ignatius being the notable old men topping the crown – with the opening of Church St in 1851.
By 1855, when much of the land had been assigned to industry, farming or high living and religious observance, only 36 members of the original Yarra Yarra tribe were recorded as still living in the Parish.
For a short history of Richmond, now in the City of Yarra Yarra visit:
You can find more on Ramblings in Richmond and its stunning architectural heritage in some of my earlier posts
An article about the clever OOF! designed Hello house can be found here