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Open House Melbourne 2017: Portable Iron Houses

Home > Melbourne > Architecture | Free | Historic Houses | Open Days | Places of Interest | July
by Julia A (subscribe)
Whilst my day job pays the bills, writing lights my fire and allows me to dream big. Visit my blog midlifewanderlust65.blogspot.com.au/
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Yes, even novice DIY'ers could have built these
How's this for shopping "online" back in the old days? In the nineteenth-century portable iron buildings (including cottages, churches, theatres and shops) were bought from catalogues and arrived flat packed and ready to be assembled. Constructed in Britain, the houses were dismantled, every component labelled then packed into crates and shipped abroad to be reassembled in their new location. Even the crates the buildings arrived in were used to line the interior walls.

Portable Iron Houses, open house Melbourne, south Melbourne
Visit for free during Open House Melbourne


Anyone could assemble them by following the instructions and as people had been living in tents, paying five shillings per tent per week being able to move into a two or even six roomed house was a luxury at the time.

I wonder if there were always a couple of spare pieces left over?

The National Trust has participated in Open House Melbourne since opening the doors of Tasma Terrace back in 2009.

Open House Melbourne is on again this weekend - Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 July 2017.

Take this opportunity to experience one of the National Trust's hidden gems the three Portable Iron houses in South Melbourne. By 1855, South Melbourne comprised nearly 100 of these portable buildings.

The three corrugated iron and wood houses that remain are the result of significant preservation campaigns. Patterson House sits on its original site, whilst Abercrombie House was rescued from North Melbourne in 1981 and Bellhouse was saved from demolition in Fitzroy in 1971.

Portable Iron Houses, open house Melbourne, south Melbourne
Patterson Place 1966


With gold discovered in Victoria in 1851 accommodation was needed for the many migrants flocking to the colony and these iron houses met that need. Get an insight into life during the Gold Rush era when you visit one of the few remaining pre-fabricated iron buildings in the world.

Portable Iron Houses, open house Melbourne, south Melbourne
Abercrombie House


The houses will be open on:
Saturday 29 Jul 2017 10:00 am 4:00 pm
Sunday 30 Jul 2017 10:00 am 4:00 pm

Open House Melbourne is a free event for all.

The houses are also open the first Sunday of each month (except January), from 1pm to 4pm. However, a fee is payable for the house tour & garden entry:

National Trust members: free
Adult: $6
Concession/Child: $4
Family: $14 (2 Adults 2 Children)
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Why? Visit for free this weekend as part of Open House Melbourne
When: 29 and 30 July 2017 and First Sunday of each month (except January),
Phone: 03 9656 9889
Where: 399 Coventry Street South Melbourne 3205 VICTORIA
Cost: Free as part of Open Houses Melbourne
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