Boots and all in Clifton Hill

Back in the early 90s, I worked as a teacher of English to people who had lost their jobs because of the restructuring of the economy. The idea was to retrain former workers from the TCF (textile, clothing and footwear) industries, who came from very diverse cultural backgrounds. Even then, manufacturing was in drastic decline. Back then, I didn’t have much idea how important footwear used to be in Melbourne’s economy. If you want the evidence of that history, suburbs like Clifton Hill are a good place to look. Continue reading

Fitzroy North or North Fitzroy?

I made my way east from Carlton North, and spent an afternoon wandering through the adjacent suburb of North Fitzroy. Or is it Fitzroy North?

Either way, it’s one of those suburbs where you feel a strong sense of the past. It’s a peaceful place of gently curving streets, established trees, Victorian streetscapes – some of them grand and Italianate Boom-style, some of them humble – corner shops, bluestone lanes, and public reserves. Unlike traditionally working class Fitzroy, North Fitzroy is residential not industrial. And it doesn’t seem to have changed all that much  – not as drastically as some suburbs, anyway. There’s a bit of a Victorian vibe.

The ghostsigns reflect the suburb’s residential identity. Continue reading

A cuppa in North Carlton

This wall is on the corner of Lygon Street and St Philip Street, East Brunswick. I paused there, drawn by the presence of some very faded ghostsigns. It’s pretty hard to make them out. But when you’re an experienced wall-starer, small clues are enough to reveal what is lurking there. Continue reading

A deco dairy and stories on walls

Picking up my walk from Sydney Road, Brunswick, I headed east along Blyth Street as far as Nicholson Street. Turning south, at number 136A I came across a small brick building with the words ‘Dairy & Milk Bar’ in art deco lettering, moulded out of concrete. That tells us that the building is most likely late 1930s. Continue reading

Layers of ghosts on Abbotsford Street

If you’ve been following this blog for a while you’ll know that I’m fascinated by ghostsigns – old painted signage, advertising products and businesses that often no longer exist. Melbourne has thousands of these signs, some of them still in excellent condition, others faded away almost to nothing. The ones I prefer tend to be the ones which offer up their secrets slowly – providing just a few clues as to their history, which can be decoded with a little patient investigation.

A classic example occurs on the wall of 445 Abbotsford Street, North Melbourne. Continue reading