Thursday, July 25, 2013

Bits and pieces

A reminder that its Open House Melbourne this weekend. So many places to see - perhaps for the first time. Even if you don't get to visit any of the places, the book that accompanies the weekend is a great resource. There are no Port Melbourne places featured this year. Nearest to Port would be the Mission to Seafarers and the Port of Melbourne boat tours - for which you probably need to book.
Also, for those of you on facebook, Lost Melbourne features new old photos every day. This image of Allens Sweets with Flinders St Station in the foreground is a favourite - topical in this week when designs for the Station were revealed. To vote in the People's Choice for the redesign go to

Planning - what's new?

At a time when planning issues are on the minds of Port Melbourne people - (and when have they not been?), PMH&PS was intrigued to find these notes among Swallow & Ariell's archives held at the University of Melbourne.
Over a period of time Swallow & Ariell's factory expanded to include neighbouring properties. Charles Joseph Sarovich, Furrier and Rug Manufacturer conducted his business, and presumably lived at, 77 Beach St.
University of Melbourne Archives
He writes
‘I have heard that you intend building an Electric Bake House on the allotment adjoining my property. I wish to formally protest against this being done.' (June 28 1920)
He continues to press his concern
‘Am I right in presuming you have made your plans so that the light entering my three rooms will not be affected in any way? Otherwise I must object. Taking into consideration the excellent neighbourly feeling which has always existed between us, would it not be advisable to have a quite talk over these matters and try to clear up any differences which may arise later on.' (July 7 1920) 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

'The Food of Great-grandmothers' 2

Margaret Bride continues on the theme of  'The food of Great-grandmothers'
As a further step in debunking the myth about our foremother’s healthy diet I hunted up the reports made by the Port Melbourne Health Inspector to the Central Board of Health in 1887. Let us be grateful for the campaigns that resulted in the regulation of food sales and the effective prosecutions of offenders, and never join in the mindless laughter at jokes about the nanny state.
The Report states: 
 food sold in butchers and grocers is wrapped in newspaper, stained and dirty. Small, ill-ventilated shops sell milk, butter, clothing and groceries all from a shop not properly separated from the shop-keepers dwelling, and frequently also inhabited by dogs, cats and fowls whose urine and excreta come into daily contact with commodities exposed for sale… butchers carts never sell good meat, but dispose of diseased and inedible meat to people anxious to buy it cheaply.
Margaret and Graham Bride are the authors of The Borough and Its People: Port Melbourne 1839 to 1939 which was belatedly featured in the 'local' paper this week

Biscuits, puddings, cakes and more: Swallow & Ariell in Port Melbourne

This week’s post has got to be about Swallow & Ariell.  The Age Epicure devoted this week’s edition  to iconic Australian biscuits without mentioning Swallow & Ariell which operated continuously in Port Melbourne from 1858 to 1991.  PMHPS feels the need to talk biscuits. The former Swallow & Ariell’s factory buildings, now The Anchorage, continue to add interest and pleasure along Stokes, Rouse and Princes Streets.
An unusually pink moment in late afternoon
Thomas Swallow, born in Reading, traveled to California and Ballarat before setting up a business making ships biscuits in Port Melbourne.  His business partner Ariell died in 1877. He then went into partnership with Frederick Derham, his son in law.  This piece is not to dwell on the great civic contribution of both men, but the significant industry they presided over.
The scale of the operation was remarkable. From an early stage, the factory's operations were ‘mechanised to an impressive degree'.  Strategically located next to Port’s piers and the railway, Swallow &  Ariell was a fully integrated business. Company farms around Shepparton provided much of its wheat, and after 1889 most was ground into flour on the Port Melbourne premises. The company sourced fruit and vegetables for canning from farms in Mildura, Mooroopna, Kyabram and Wandin.
‘take  for instance their Muldura apricots and peaches. What a luscious fragrance meets you as the tin is opened and how rich is its glorious colour and how it glistens with the cold white syrup.’
From 1881, Swallow & Ariell owned sugar plantations in Cairns. The sugar was refined into treacle and golden syrup.
For the year ending 1 May 1920, the factory used 51 tons of butter, 2,740 eggs and produced more than 66 lines of biscuits. They also made puddings, elaborate cakes and icecream.
S & A was a significant employer – locally referred to as S&A College. At the height of the South African war it employed 1900 workers but even in 1991 it employed 450 people.

Stokes St, Port Melbourne 1987
Alison Kelly collection: Port Melbourne Historical and Preservation Society
Australian Screen Online hold a promotional film about a (glamourised) day in the life of the Swallow & Ariell factory. It describes the sweet biscuits as ‘the daintiest morsels’, ‘gorgeously coloured’ while the Uneeda biscuit is ‘dried biscuit perfection’. The smell of baking biscuits is a sensory memory many Port Melbourne people share.
Got more information or stories to add? Comment below or send an email 
Sources and further information
Conservation Plan for the Swallow & Ariell Site, Port Melbourne, prepared for the City of Port Melbourne, 1991
Australian Screen Online search by Swallow and Ariell
Port Phillip Heritage website images search by Swallow and Ariell
They Can Carry Me Out: Memories of Port Melbourne, available from the PMHPS (see right hand pane)
Swallow and Ariell Biscuit Manufactory workers 1958

Thursday, July 11, 2013

'The Food of Great-grandmothers'

An article in The Age, Epicure of 25 June prompted this response from member Margaret Bride:
In an article on how to eat a healthy diet, I recently read the advice, Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food. I think this advice is part of the romantic myth that our grandparents ate a more healthy diet than we do - a diet free from additives.
I do not have any information about the food eaten by my great-grandmother but I do have a Mrs Beeton’s Recipe book that my grandmother, Letty Bellion, used when she lived in Port Melbourne, probably from the time of her marriage in 1889.
One of the advertisements on the cover is for a product Frigiline. Not only was it offered as an additive that would preserve Butter, Fish, Meat, Sausages, Bacon, etc, but there is absolutely no indication of the ingredients that it contained. Another advertisement is for a packaged dry vegetable mixture, again there is no indication of what went into its manufacture.
I think we need to recognize the benefits we enjoy from those campaigners who won the fight to have accurate labeling on products and to be very careful not to believe myths about the purity of the food available to our foremothers.

Margaret Bride
Any readers have any stories about the food of their great-grandparents?

Fishermans Bend - do the maps

On Sunday 7 July, several members of the Society attended a forum on the Future of Fishermans Bend convened by the Community Alliance of Port Phillip. To follow this discussion into the future, it is probably necessary to become familiar with the acronym FBURA for Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area. 
On 5 July 2012, the Minister for Planning rezoned a large area of Fishermans Bend to the Capital City Zone.  At 240 ha, the FBURA is bigger than Docklands and Southbank combined. It is the largest urban renewal project in Australia. The rezoning was made without a planning framework of any kind being in place which has led to a rash of speculative development proposals.
Getting clear on Fishermans Bend
To a Port Melbourne person, Fishermans Bend has a particular meaning. It is often locally referred to as 'The Bend'.   But since we are entering a period of public debate, a definition can be useful.  Allan Meiers, in his book Fisherfolk of Fishermans Bend offers this definition: 'Fishermans Bend: A term used by Sandridge Council to designate all the land bounded by the seashore at Hobsons Bay, the northermost bend of the Yarra River and Boundary St which divides South Melbourne and Port Melbourne'
This is well illustrated in the following 1914 map:
 Port Melbourne, Parish of South Melbourne, County of Bourke 1914
State Library of Victoria
All the land shown on the above map was part of the City of Port Melbourne until shortly prior to the amalgamation of local councils in 1994 - including  the northern bump around Coode Island. 

The boundaries of the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal Area are shown in the coloured hatched sections of the map below. As you can see, it is not the same as the area as conventionally and historically understood to be Fishermans Bend. 

Hope this sheds some light on the matter of Fishermans Bend.

Sources and further information
Allan Meiers Fisherfolk of Fishermans Bend piv
State Library of Victoria  Port Melbourne, Parish of South Melbourne, County of Bourke 1914

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Separation - becoming Victoria

On 1 July 1851, the Port Phillip district formally separated from New South Wales to become the colony of Victoria. From the 1840s onwards there was growing discontent in the Port Phillip district. People complained of being in 'the thrall' of New South Wales and that insufficient resources were directed towards the urgent and growing needs of Melbourne and the Port Phillip district. 
The Separation Bill passed the British Parliament on 1 August 1850, but it took 14 weeks for the news to reach Melbourne. When it did, it was simply a small notice in a South Australian newspaper and it was almost overlooked. (1) This is how the news was received on 'the beach' or 'Liardet's beach' as Port Melbourne was then known.
 "Liardet broke the news of separation to Sandridge by dressing in his red huntsman's coat, mounting his horse, blowing on his trumpet, and galloping at full speed down Bay Street and on to Melbourne shouting between trumpet blasts: Hooray! We've got separation at last." (2)
This quote gives just a hint of the colourful personality of Port Melbourne's early settler Wilbraham Frederick Evelyn Liardet. Liardet landed on the beach with his wife Caroline and their nine children in the vicinity of the Port Melbourne Yacht Club in 1839. Shortly after their arrival, he left his wife Caroline on the beach with son Frank and the younger children and set off for New South Wales. When he returned, he secured the contract for delivering mail from the ships to Melbourne. He also built the Pier Hotel which offered bountiful hospitality and a range of entertainments.
Superior accommodation for families and gentlemen, carriage conveyance to and from Melbourne. Saddle horses, carts and drays for the conveyance of luggage, good stabling and a stock yard. Boats to be had at all times, fishing and shooting parties attended with lines, nets and boats etc. A spacious and convenient swimming bath, shower and warm baths if required. An ordinary on Sunday at half past two o cock, fish and game in season. Shipping supplied with pure spring water gratis.'
Having exhausted his funds, Liardet was not in a position to purchase the land on which the Pier Hotel stood when it was offered for sale. 
Perhaps Liardet's most important legacy is his watercolours of early Melbourne, painted towards the end of his long life. As well as a painting of the Pier Hotel in its heyday there is also a fabulous painting of the Separation celebrations at Flagstaff Hill.  Every picture contains a wealth of information and interpretation of those early days. His paintbox can be seen at Ballam Park in Frankston.
There are many tales about Liardet - this is the merest introduction. Some further resources are suggested below. 
Sources and further information
W.F.E. Liardet 1799 - 1878, born London died New Zealand
Liardet's water-colours of early Melbourne ed Weston Bate is available through the Port Phillip Library Service
(1) Port Phillip's separation
Watercolour of The Pier Hotel, State Library of Victoria
W F E Liardet's biography
(2) Graham and Margaret Bride: Port Melbourne The Borough and its People 1839 to 1939 p25