When Mitcham Village was laid out in 1840, approximately a hundred lots extending from Blythewood Road to Princes Road became available for sale. Many shops, hotels, churches, schools and houses were developed around the village green on both sides of surrounding streets. Their colonial architecture was simple yet worth acknowledging. This includes the historic buildings along Princes Road which is parallel to the main Albert Street.
At 90 Princes Road, you'll find the village's first supermarket. In fact, some even say that it was the first supermarket in the whole of South Australia! This small shop was established by the Robins Brothers in the 1950s.
Across the street from the supermarket were two more shops. Operated initially by Fritz Conquest, the old butcher was a very busy store in its heyday. The 'shop and house' next to the butcher was built by local stone mason John Bradley. It was typical for shopkeepers to live with their families in dwellings attached to their businesses. This building has retained much of its 19th-century character although some alterations have been made over the years.
On the western corner of Torrens Road stands the grand Mitcham Village Institute which was the centre of social life. Built in 1870, the institute has functioned as a school, community hall, council office, library and picture theatre over its lifetime. It was one of the first buildings to have electricity! The building was restored in the late 1900s and is now part of the Mitcham Cultural Village. Among other things, I particularly admire the fine and exquisite facade that faces onto Princes Road.
A police station was built next door about 20 years later. It had a charge room, living room, bedroom and kitchen as well as detached holding cells at the back. After ceasing operations in 1967, the state emergency services took over the building and operated there until the recent turn of the century. Today, it houses the Mitcham Heritage Research Centre.
Last but not least, the old Mitcham Methodist Church can still be seen at the rear of the current church premises. Located to the west of the former police station, the church was the village's first of that Christian denomination. The faith community had pretty much diversified and expanded by the late 1800s.
Although just eight kilometres south of Adelaide city, Mitcham remained a village until after World War I when it was gradually absorbed into suburbia. Its historic Princes Road can easily be reached via either Unley or Fullarton Roads.