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North Melbourne

(3051, 2 km NW, Moonee Valley City, Melbourne City)

This small mixed-use suburb is located between Victoria Street, Flemington Road, and CityLink tollway (Western Link), and is one of the innermost ring of Victorian-era suburbs that encircle Central Melbourne. Melbourne's Benevolent Asylum (1851) was partly within the suburb's boundary, and, in the 1850s North Melbourne developed as a casting-off point for the gold fields. The first land was released for sale here in 1852, and regular releases followed.

During the 1880s land boom North Melbourne became the most densely populated part of the city. Commercial and industrial activities in the area included the Queen Victoria Market, the Metropolitan Meat Market, meat processing, horse stabling, tanneries, manufacturing, railway yards and wool stores. A major shopping precinct developed in Errol Street. Ironically stagnation, following the 1890s depression, left North Melbourne with an important heritage legacy.

During this period North Melbourne was a separate municipality, having separated from the City of Melbourne in 1859. Initially called Hotham its name was changed to North Melbourne in 1877. Although the town hall is still an Errol Street landmark, in 1905 North Melbourne was taken back into the City of Melbourne as the Hopetoun ward, named after a former Governor of Victoria and Australia's first Governor-General, Lord Hopetoun.

Homes in North Melbourne are mainly Victorian, with some in Federation style. They range from larger detached residences to terrace housing of every shape, size and quality, mostly one- or two-storey. Setbacks are non-existent or small, which gives the suburb a hard-edged inner-urban ambience. Heritage-listed buildings include Osborne House (prefabricated timber house erected for ship owner and merchant George Ward Cole, Victoria Street, 1852), the Melbourne College of Printing and Graphic Arts (Queensberry Street, 1882), St Mary's Anglican Church (Howard Street, 1858-), and the former Melbourne Omnibus Co.'s Stables (Macauley Road, 1873).

Commercial activity in the area is varied, and includes small offices, showrooms, service businesses and motor mechanics. Larger offices are found near Flemington Road and south of Victoria Street. Car sales and other automotive activities are widespread, with a concentration around Elizabeth Street. Industrial activities include a flour mill, asphalt plant, cement mixing and electricity, council and heavy transport depot. Other industrial activity, such as small clothing factories, car parts and panel beating, warehouse and storage and other light industry, is dispersed throughout the mixed-use areas. Many of these activities rely on heavy vehicle access. This, plus the fact that much traffic to and from Central Melbourne must move through the suburb, creates very heavy traffic, particularly in Elizabeth Street, Victoria Street and Flemington Road.

North Melbourne features the Public Record Office Victoria, the Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral (1963), and the North Melbourne Cricket Ground in Arden Street, former home of the North Melbourne Football Club. Around 20% of its population is made up of tertiary students.

Brian Carroll

Mattingley, Albert, 'The early history of North Melbourne', Victorian Historical Magazine, December 1916 and March 1917. Details