Sunday, June 19, 2011

On My Way to Work - 1966

Friday’s post was a short one with three photos of Flinders Street Station.
When you live in your home city, sometimes you take these wonderful architectural structures for granted. Many no longer exist and they are forgotten. I know that when I was doing this post, many buildings that I would pass on my way to work in the late 1960s have gone.

Celebrating 100 years of the Victorian Railways.

The Flinders Street Station Ballroom - no longer in use.

The Ballroom as it is today.

Inside Flinders Street Station.

In my latter teenage years, and it was time to leave school, get a job and pay board at home (1/3rd of my salary), I traveled by train to Princes Bridge Station in the city. Later it became an extension of Flinders Street Station. The station was named after the bridge that crossed the Yarra River between the two stations. It was the first bridge to link the south and north of the city, before people crossed by punts at various locations along the river.

Princes Bridge crossing the Yarra River.

My first job was as an Interior Display Trainee at the Myer Emporium in Bourke Street, Melbourne. Sidney Myer was a pioneer of retailing in Melbourne. He started his business initially in Bendigo during the Gold Boom era. I was studying art and a fellow student mentioned that her brother worked at Myer as a Window Dresser and Interior Display officer. I thought that I could enjoy that sort of creative work, gained an interview and next thing I'm working at the Myer Emporium. It was a great gig for the next two years.

Princes Bridge Station with Saint Pauls Cathedral (to the left) before the spires were added.
Saint Pauls with the spires and Princes Bridge Station to the lower left corner.

The Princes Bridge Station has had a few incarnations, the most recent being Federation Square.
After a couple of years at Myer, I worked for the Gas and Fuel Corporation which was on this site. It was built in the 60s and considered an eyesore as it cut off the views across the river from the city.

The Gas and Fuel Twin Towers building was only two years old when I went to work with the Corporation as a Window Dresser. We call them Visual Merchandisers now. Back then we designed our own windows, painted the props and assembled the window display on our own.
It was demolished to make way for Federation Square which also had its detractors but is now a great part of Melbourne.

At the time our family home was in the northern suburbs of Melbourne and it could be considered to be the outer fringes, although from memory it was only about 7 miles out (we spoke in miles back then).  The train station of Keon Park was a short distance from home and the 4th station from the beginning of the line. This ensured a seat at that time of the morning. Coming home was a free for all to get a seat.

My train at my station - Keon Park.
Note the doors that you had open and they were all separate compartments.
In those days I rode the “Red Rattlers” to work. These trains and carriages, surprisingly were painted red, and they did rattle. They had these wonderful big chrome handles and you had to open the doors to the compartments yourself – no automatic doors then. I used to enjoy seeing the different advertisements inside the carriages – scenes of rural districts such as Noojee and Walhalla. These were places that the country trains could take you to for holidays in the country.
The carriages also had these metal and wire shelves for you to put your “kit bag” on. What’s a kit bag or should I say, a Gladstone bag? Some blokes would have a Gladstone bag for their lunch, newspaper and what ever so this, with their hat would be placed on these shelves. Gentlemen would never wear their hat in the carriage.

The Gladstone bags used by men on the way to work.
 My Red Rattler would stop at Princes Bridge Station and as you would walk up to street level, there on the opposite side was Flinders Street Station where those from the west of Melbourne would meet those from the north and east.

These workers most likely just stepped off from Flinders Street or Princes Bridge Stations on their way to work. The other side of the Yarra River was a manufacturing precinct. Note the hats and the Gladstone bags.
After arriving in the city it was a walk of three city blocks to the Myer Emporium. I used to wander through the laneways of Melbourne to get to work – how they have changed today. The laneways now have the most wonderful Cafes and eclectic shops.

The laneways that I would travel to my job at Myer are now filled with Cafes, and interesting shops.
Back then they had a sort of bohemian atmosphere.

I remember at Lunchtimes we would sometimes run down to Degraves Street to a club, a little like the Cavern in Liverpool to watch and listen to local bands before rushing back to work for the afternoon.

There were also some great record shops hidden away in the laneways where you could buy some hard to find jazz and blues records that weren't sold in the larger retail outlets.

A commisioned painting of the Myer Emporium.
My first job in 1966 was as an interior display trainee in this building.

The Myer Bourke Sreet store was located next to Sidney Myer's competitor, Buckley and Nunn. Myer still exists but Buckley and Nunn like many other great retail emporiums have now gone and are forgotten by today's generation.

The Mural Hall especially built for fashion shows and special events on the top floor of the Bourke Street store. Most likely taken in the 60s judging by the fashions.

These many early buildings were demolished by Sidney Myer to establish his Lonsdale Street store.
Although many buildings in Melbourne have been lost in time, we are very fortunated to have sources of photographic history thanks to the Internet. They have helped me remember my travels to work in those first years of employment.

My apologies for a self indulgent post - Maybe we'll do this again sometime!!!!!!!!!!!!


  1. Thanks for making me feel OLD Leon :-). Princess Bridge Station... remember the big tram stop there???!!! Only 25yrs ago or so too!

  2. What an interesting and diverse city you are lucky enough to live in. It's beautiful. Those laneways look right up my street. Sorry for the late response, blogger wouldn't let me leave a comment when I first viewed it.

  3. Craig - the laneways you would love, very cosmopolitan.
    Blogger is a strange beast isn't it - I was thinking Word Press as an alternative.

  4. Wow, I was searching for photos of Princes Bridge Station and came across your article. Thank you for reviving some wonderful memories...Melbourne as she once was with some beautiful old buildings.


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