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Fairfield Park Boathouse

Established in 1908 by Fitzroy piano-tuner John St Clair, Fairfield Park Boathouse sits on the Northcote side of the Yarra River beside the Pipe Bridge built in 1878 to carry water to the expanding eastern suburbs. Boathouses were popular centres for boating, canoeing, swimming, picnics and carnivals until the 1950s. Their popularity declined as motor cars and television offered new opportunities for leisure, and as increased pollution made swimming unattractive. Originally in the grounds of Yarra Bend Asylum, the boathouse was purchased by Heidelberg Council in 1915, after Fairfield Park had been separated from the hospital grounds. The boathouse was flooded regularly in its early decades. After the last major flood in 1972, Paul van der Sluys, whose parents ran the Studley Park and now demolished Rudder Grange boathouses, won a tender to refurbish and operate the badly rundown site. He and his wife Jill reopened the boathouse in 1985, with a new fleet of hire boats modelled on those used on London's Thames in the mid-19th century. The site is now leased from Yarra City.

Jock Given