Friday, 30 December 2016

Former Younghusband Wool Store Sale Update

Just thought people may have seen today's news about the building's sale, so just by way of an update, the building is now heritage protected, with the eventual gazetting of amendment c213. Although that is nowhere mentioned in this article.

We do trust any plans the new owner may have will be sympathetic, but we DON'T like the look of the above at all.

READ MORE: Liberman's Impact hooks woolstore hub - AFR

Monday, 5 September 2016

Heritage Set To Be Key Issue at Melbourne City Council Elections

Melbourne City Council goes to the polls this October to elect a new Council team for the coming four years. Those elected will have stewardship over the city until 2020, when the city will be just fifteen years short of its BICENTENARY.

While "Brand Melbourne" today relies heavily on its heritage fabric as a "point of difference", its value has been steadily eroded through various failings in the current heritage regime.

Today, the Palace Theatre faces the demolition of its precious interior, the Windsor Hotel is to have a giant tower looming behind it, an 1868 former carriage workshop is being replaced by apartments, numerous "protected" buildings are proposed to become mere facades including the famed Celtic Club, several recognised heritage buildings have no legal protection whatsoever, it's become almost impossible for tourists to find a W class tram to photograph, and the demolition of the Princess Mary Club could happen any day now.

"Brand Melbourne" will suffer through all of these changes.


We've come a long way since that day in 1835 when John Batman first beheld the Yarra's banks. Indeed, Melbourne has come a long way recently. The pace of change over the past decade has been unparallelled in my lifetime, and we need to be certain that our city is developing in a way that is to its long term benefit.

Friends, I am announcing the formation of a new heritage team to take on Melbourne City Council elections in October.

We have the right agenda to preserve and enhance Melbourne's heritage buildings. But we also have the best policies to improve Melbourne's urban realm for everyone who lives, works, retails, shops or plays here.

Have a look at our key election policies HERE.

We're looking to build a TEAM around this election agenda. We need people with time to give big and small. We need DONORS even more pressingly.

We are also calling out for eligible City of Melbourne residents or rateholders who may be interested in running in the Council election on the less winnable spots, minimal commitment involved. Show your interest on our VOLUNTEER page and we'll get in touch.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Guildford Lane, Melbourne CBD

There's a little known part of this city that has no immediate equivalent anywhere else in Australia. By virtue of its location, it has remained literally largely hidden from most Melburnians' sight for most of its life. It is only with the recent discovery of "laneway culture" and through development pressure across the cbd more broadly that the area called Guildford Lane has risen in prominence.

With that prominence now comes the imperative to develop a heritage overlay for the entire precinct before any more of this unique and highly valuable resource is lost to us. Council has in the past been presented with recommendations for preservation of the precinct but nothing has ever been done.

Guildford Lane and the network of lanes around it was established by 1855. The gold rush resulted in many dense developments of small tenements around central Melbourne, including in this precinct around Guildford Lane. The buildings, however are thought to likely mask archaeological evidence of even earlier residential dwellings.

The Guildford Lane Precinct is historically significant for its illustration of ordered but constrained re-division of the original 1837 Hoddle blocks for small-scale development. It is Melbourne's best surviving example of small scale, early twentieth century industrial and warehousing building fabric.

All except one of the buildings facing the lanes date from the 1880s to the 1930s, built for light industrial or warehousing purposes. Except for two buildings - the bluestone walls of former stables of the Buckshead Hotel at 15-21 Sutherland Street which may date from the 1850s, and the rendered brick wall of the building at 20 Sutherland Street, all the buildings facing Guildford Lane are in unadorned red brick, and none more than 4 storeys. 

Guildford Lane runs east off Queen Street, and after about 20m, the L-shaped Flannigan Lane and MacLean Alley branch off, to run behind the buildings facing Guildford Lane, and they all meet Sutherland Street, which runs north-south from Little Lonsdale to La Trobe Street. There are unnamed L shaped lanes running off Flannigan Lane to the west and Sutherland Street to the south that provide further access to Latrobe Street.

In addition to commercial and manufacturing businesses, Guildford Lane was the home to several food related businesses. In 1920, the Chocolate Bowl Confectionery Company occupied premises on the north side of the lane. In 1911, a request was made to the City Solicitor to take proceedings against several fruit hawkers who called Guildford Lane home.

The buildings almost all display relatively in tact original exterior fittings, including extensive ironwork, and increasingly rare metal-framed industrial-style windows.

Here, you can see the original pulley system for one of the warehouses still in place.

The area has cultural significance also. The New Theatre, an early and influential Communist/Brechtian group, and sister organisation to Sydney's New Theatre used to hold their performances upstairs at the Duke of Kent Hotel, now itself under threat of development. Signage for the theatre remains on display in Guildford Lane.

In fact, fascinating historical signage abounds in the area, as per these photos.


The area has recently risen to become arguably the most vibrant visual arts precinct anywhere in Melbourne. Fehily, Screen Space, Urban Codmeakers, Utopian Slumps and of course Guildford Lane Gallery all make their homes there. And the cafe culture has followed in their wake.

Particular praise needs to be made of the street activation offered by Brady Development's otherwise bog-awful Melbourne Star and Melbourne Sky apartment buildings, which have added a number of small-scale cafe spaces to the mix, rendering these monoliths strangely sympathetic from a street level perspective.

A number of the buildings have in recent times been converted to residential use, but the development has been almost wholly sympathetic to the preservation of the laneway's character.

Now, however, now a number of large developments threaten the integrity of the precinct and Melbourne Heritage Action's proposal for a Guildford Lane Heritage Precinct now needs urgent consideration by Council.

This development at 26-28 Guildford Lane proposes demolition of the existing building and construction of a 7 storey building wholly out of character with the surrounding four storey lanescape.

And this development proposes wholesale demolition of the C-graded Heritage building, The Duke of Kent Hotel, built in rare neo-Egyptian style, and whose rear (shown below) contributes significantly to the lanescape of Flanagan Lane.

Furthermore the lanescape of Sutherland Street is already in the process of being significantly compromised by the construction of Eporo Tower, which itself saw the demolition of these three heritage structures that were themselves highly contributory to the Guildord Lane precinct.

Melbourne Heritage Action currently has a proposal for a heritage overlay for the entire precinct, including surrounding contributory buildings before council. City of Melbourne residents are encouraged to write to their Councillors in support of this proposal. The complete proposal can be found HERE.

But if nothing else I'd urge all Melburnians not familiar with the area to spend a fascinating couple of hours pottering around the precinct. Heritage, after all is there to be lived.

Photocredits: Adam Ford, Tristan Davies, Melbourne Heritage Action.

Monday, 28 December 2015

Former Younghusband Wool Stores, Kensington

Location: cnr Elizabeth and Chelmsford Sts, Kensington
Period: Early 20th Century industrial

It's a familiar sight to City-bound commuters on the Craigieburn line, a solid five storeys of late Victorian red brick brilliance. Where Sydney's former woolstores provide a spectacular backdrop to Darling Harbour, this is Melbourne's equivalent corner of towering turn of the century industrial real estate.

Elizabeth Street facade showing newest of the three main structures
But being in Melbourne rather than tinsel-town, it's accordingly much better secreted away, and hence probably unappreciated by those unfamiliar with the stretch of railway between Nth Melbourne and Kensington Stations.

Elizabeth Street Facade, older structure
In fact, the Younghusband Woolstore is cycompletely UNPROTECTED by any heritage overlay, if any readers should require ANY more evidence that there remain significant gaps in this city's heritage regime...

Elizabeth Street facade, with older building on left
In 2011, a development  proposal emerged for the site, and the proposed enabling amendments that were put to Melbourne City Council DID propose a heritage overlay for the building, but which also simultaneously proposed a large, inappropriate tower development. In rightly rejecting that proposal, Council inadvertently left the building without any heritage overlay.


Signage, internal laneway
This was remedied by the c213 planning scheme amendments, which were implemented by Council in 2013. This was part of a heritage study conducted concommitant with the rezoning of land in the Arden-Macauley development corridor.

Internal laneway, with overhead walkways
Thanks, however, to the eternal generosity and public-spiritedness of Mr Solomon Lew, these amendments have been held up pending his Supreme Court challenge to the heritage overlay placed on HIS similarly spectacular former woolstore at Sutton Street, Kensington. City Link regulars will know it well, because it always has four storeys of advertising for Solomon's brands plastered to the exterior.

PROTECTED - Solomon Lew's former woolstore, Sutton Street, Kensington
Thankfully, the Supreme Court rejected Mr Lew's demolition bid, as has rightly been the fate of a couple of recent developer Supreme challenges to the validity of Melbourne's Planning Scheme. So, protection for the Younghusband Woolstore is imminent, as the Planning Minister is expected to finally gazette these changes shortly.



Younghusband & Co was a woolbroking and stock and station agent founded by the merchant squatter, Isaac Younghusband in 1889. In 1902, the company took over woolbrokers R Goldsbrough Row & Co Pty Ltd to become Younghusband Row & Co Pty Ltd. 

Isaac Younghusband began as a pastoralist on the Killeen or Five Mile Creek ·Lease near Longwood; being credited as a partner with Lyell there from 1875. He entered wool and grain merchandising during the 1880s and became the 'wool manager' for New Zealand Loan and Company late in that decade.

Photo date unknown, possibly 1920s Source: Leader Newspapers
Appearing first as an un-named rate-book entry of 'brick stores' and a railway siding by the end of 1901, this building was listed as owned by R.Goldsborough and Co. Wool Brokers, which was then sold to Younghusband the following year.

Photo date unknown, possibly 1920s Source: Leader Newspapers
Architects, Oakden and Ballantyne did work on the building during 1906, relating to services connections, and it is likely that they did the original design, given their later work for New Zealand Loan and Mercentile.

Working at Younghusband, 1909 Source: Leader Newspapers
Additions to the building in Elizabeth Street from around 1928 appear to be the design of renowned architect Arthur William Purnell. SEE HERE for more information on Purnell.

Building Style

The main site is actually comprised of three distinct buildings, all accessed via a central L-shaped laneway.

'L' bend, internal laneway
An austere but boldly styled Renaissance revival structure, the Wool Store achieves visual force from its deeply recessed wall bays (outlined by pilasters), central pedimented entry bay and massive parapet, held aloft by the pilasters and a dog-tooth brick corbel, to its underside. Only the essentials of classical trabeation are repeated in the facade: the remaining detail contributing also as structure.

Chelmsford Street Facade - showing altered entryway and parapet

Complementary but later bays occur at the rear of this first block. Comparison may be made to the similar T.B. Guest complex in Munster Terrace, North Melbourne. 

Newer bays to rear of Younghusband Wool Store
Zany staircase, rear Younghusband Wool Store


Although powerfully composed, alterations have been equally extensive in their effect: a giant roller shutter door takes up an end bay; inserted windows and extended openings play havoc with the psuedo-structural elements of the facade, above this door; and the lower entrance bay has been reworked, albeit symmetrically. The voussoirs have been painted.


Contemporary and Future Use

Today, the site is utilised as a series of artist spaces under a scheme coordinated by the City of Melbourne. It is significant, however that when the development proposal fell over in 2012, Lord Mayor Robert Doyle was at pains to point out that it is only at the whim of the property owner that this is at all possible. It is likely that at some point in future the owner will again look to redevelopment of the site, which as a rare Melbourne hilltop site, possesses commanding views in all directions.

Lightdrop Studios Interior,
Younghusband Wool Store, Kensington

The site owners in fact appear to be gearing up for another attempt at redevelopment. They have launched a website, and have engaged both Essential Economics and Ellenberg Fraser (my least favourite architects going round right now) to make an economic and design case for redevelopment. 

Rear building, site of proposed redevelopment
The developers are apparently looking to engage in genuine community consultation. I recommend everyone pop along to their site and provide your thoughts. This site does have development potential provided the heritage structure is preserved. 

Artists live here.
So watch this space, everyone. I'll post back here with any updates as they come to hand.

I call this one 'hope'... and yes, it's real.
Sources: Both I and this city owe a great debt to Graeme Butler, whose 1985 Flemington-Kensington Heritage Survey remains the only detailed historical research into this and many other notable buildings in the neighbourhood.

All images are the property of Adam Ford unless otherwise indicated.

Foyer entry
Foyer interior
Elizabeth street entry
Chelmsford street facade
Elizabeth Street Streetscape, showing Alied Mills silos on Right
and Melbourne Star Observation Wheel in background
Rear - Younghusband Wool Store