Sunday, January 17, 2010

Beyond the Facade: Flinders Street, more than just a railway station

For one hundred years the facade of Flinders Street Railway Station has been a focal point of Melbourne. Although the railway line and station had been in existence since the 1850s, by the 1880s, with the growth of Melbourne and increased use of the railways, it was obvious that the railway station needed to be rebuilt not only to accommodate current travellers but also for projected growth of railway usage. Jenny Davies provides information about the planning for and the building of the new station, completed in 1910, plus subsequent alterations to the complex.

The main focus of the book, however, is descriptions (often provided by people who worked at or near the station) of the use of the extensive railway buildings by passengers, members of the Victorian Railway Institute and other groups using the facilities including the importance to Melburnians of the station clocks, the newspaper stands and newsboys selling the Herald on the station steps in the evening, the City Hatters shop on the corner of Swanston Street and Flinders Street, Hearns Hobbies, various refreshment services provided over the years including a restaurant, shops selling and promoting fresh and dried fruits, as well as places to grab a quick drink or something to eat on the way to the train. Two chapters are devoted to the Victorian Railway Institute and the various activities and events offered by this organisation at Flinders Street Station. From the early 1930s to the early 1970s Miss Dorothy Gladstone ran dancing classes in rooms at the station. From the June 1933 until January 1942 the railways provided a child minding service where mothers who travelled by train could leave their young children.

This is a book for browsing - examining the many photographs and reading the eye-witness accounts of working at and using the station over the years. Another contribution to the history of Melbourne.

1 comment:

Hels said...

Great book which I actually discovered by accident. Often our best discoveries are accidental :)

I don't remember the ballroom being used in world war two, but my dad was a soldier and he certainly remembers it.