Monday, January 9, 2012

Radical Melbourne

Jeff and Jill Sparrow have written an alternative history of Melbourne with accounts of events and interpretation of the history of the city not usually provided in other history books. Fifty sites around Melbourne feature in this book and the map provided allows the reader to easily locate each site. The map can also be used as a walking tour of Melbourne.

The book begins in the Flagstaff Gardens - the site of the first cemetery in Melbourne as well as being, in 1842, the location of a riot of immigrant workers against the reduction of their wages. The next site is that of the Old Melbourne Cemetery where Queen Victoria Market now stands. Identified bodies were removed but thousands of bodies remain beneath part of the market site. Many of the sites are the location of protests, riots or demonstrations or buildings associated with groups such as the Communist Party, Victorian Socialists League, Movement Against War and Fascism and Progressive Spiritualist Lyceum. Fittingly the final chapter is about the Trades Hall.

Radical Melbourne provides a useful addition to the history of the city until the late 1930s however the frequent anti-establishment comments from the authors become a little grating after a while.

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