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Five Boroondara Buildings with a Story

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by Fiona Anderson (subscribe)
A Melbourne based writer who is a travel junkie, dedicated foodie and emerging photographer.
Published March 12th 2014
Ugly or Beautiful? You Be the Judge
The older I get, the more interested I seem to be becoming in buildings and architecture. I am looking at buildings in my neighbourhood with new eyes. A building I might never have given a second glance to before is now admired, and I often ponder about what the building might originally have been used for or what was happening in the era in which it was built.

I don't have a background in architecture or design, so I'm coming at this from a position of ignorance to a large extent. But my curiosity has been piqued sufficiently for me to undertake a little research about the history of five buildings in the City of Boroondara.

By way of background, Boorondara is the council precinct that takes in the suburbs of Hawthorn, Camberwell and Kew. They are well established suburbs, where strong building development occurred during Melbourne's 'boom' era of the 1880s. During this period, many gold-rush immigrants, who had started as labourers, used their wealth to develop businesses and build houses in the inner Melbourne suburbs, particularly along the train and tram lines. Walking around suburbs within the City of Boroondara, it is easy to see the influence of the boom era.

1. Former E, S & A Bank, Camberwell Junction

ES&A Bank, Camberwell
The former E, S & A Bank

The former English, Scottish and Australian (ES&A) Bank building, located at Camberwell Junction at the juncture of Riversdale Road and Burke Road, is now operating as the Meat and Wine Co restaurant. It was built in 1885, right at the peak of boom time development. This bank was instrumental in lending money to investors wishing to set up business in Hawthorn and Camberwell, following the extension of the train line to Camberwell in 1882.

It is built in a Gothic style, brick with a slate roof. To me, the exterior looks a little like a church.

2. Former Bakery, 20-26 Liddiard St, Hawthorn

This is a place I've walked past 100 times and wondered what it was in its heyday. There's an appealing archway with a cobblestone driveway leading through to the back of the property, pointing to days of horse drawn carriages.

Farey Brothers' Bakery Hawthorn
The former Farey Brothers' Automatic Bakery, Hawthorn

Quite a lot has been written about one of the former owner of this building - William Farey, who lived in Hawthorn and Balwyn in the early 1900s - but it was difficult to find information about the building itself. However, I did learn that it was formerly the Farey Brothers' Automatic Bakery, built in the early 1900s. It's an attractive industrial building, now converted to offices, and its architectural style is described as 'a fusion of American Romanesque and Queen Anne-British Freestyle detailing'.

3. Former Hawthorn Fire Station, 66-68 William Street, Hawthorn

Hawthorn Fire Station
Former Hawthorn Fire Station

The old Hawthorn Fire Station has been surrounded by the towers of Swinburne University. It is currently being used as a project office for one of Swinburne's constructions. Despite being overshadowed by the tall buildings, it is notable for its elegance and detailing. It still has its original timber doors, set into arched vehicle openings. As you can see in the photo, it retains some lovely wrought iron details.

Wrought iron features
Wrought iron features

It was constructed in 1910, in an 'Edwardian Freestyle' design.

Looking at the doorways, I wondered whether the fire engines used when the Fire Station was in operation would have been motorised or horse-drawn. If horse drawn vehicles were used, it would have been for a short time only, as the Melbourne Fire Brigade's history indicates its fleet was fully motorised by 1918.

4. Camberwell Courthouse & Police Station, 311-317 Camberwell Road Camberwell

Camberwell Courthouse & Police Station
Camberwell Courthouse & Police Station

Not the most attractive building of the group, this building was designed by Public Works Department architect, Percy Everett, and was built in 1938-39. The architectural style is categorised as 'Moderne'. Some of the features of moderne style which can be seen in the police station building are: a low horizontal shape, flat roof and windows in horizontal rows. Another feature - the one that interested me - is the rounded corners. The entrance to the building is squat and plain, but to each side are curved corners which I thought may have been Art Deco, but my reading shows this is not the case. These curves add character and interest to what would otherwise have been a very plain, functional building.

5. Tram Verandah Shelter, Cotham Rd Kew (near Burke Rd)

Verandah tram shelter
Verandah tram shelter

This lovely old shelter was constructed in about 1913, and is one of only three 'verandah shelters' left in Melbourne. They are called verandah shelters because they have the look and shape of a covered verandah. They were constructed for the then 'Prahran and Malvern Tramways Trust', which introduced the first electric tramway in Melbourne.

The verandah shelter has three decorative cast iron columns at the front. These have a function - they are actually hollow and serve as downpipes to drain the water from the roof when it rains!

So there's a quick overview of some buildings around me. Go for a walk and see what you can find in your neighbourhood.
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Why? Take a walk and admire the beauty around you.
When: Anytime
Where: In your neighbourhood.
Cost: Free
Your Comment
I think as you get older you begin to appreciate more the skill needed to go into all these different designs, especially older buildings, when architects didn't have all the technology we have today.
by Bryony Harrison (score: 4|12626) 2614 days ago
Great article Fiona. Fascinating details and great images.
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|6033) 2614 days ago
This was so enjoyable, and what a great idea. I think I shall take up your offer and go and check out the buildings in my own neighbourhood.

I never realised that building on the Camberwell Junction was originally a bank. I do feel sorry for it being so overshadowed by that enormous new apartment block next door.
by Sue Stevenson (score: 2|569) 2607 days ago
Really enjoyed your photos of the buildings around Hawthorn and Camber well Fiona .born in Hawthorn and lived there and worked for ANZ bank in the 70's so know all the Buildings well . Thank you for your article . Jennifer Disney Shepherdson .
by Jenni (score: 0|4) 2607 days ago
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