I adore this row of art deco buildings on Pilkington St, North Fitzroy. After doing some research I found two photos from 1948 and discovered that the external metal staircase was not an original feature of the corner building, which is described as ‘slums’, but I am not sure this is accurate. The middle building, ‘Beryl Court’, is not so stigmatised.

decoflats Fitzroy history - art deco street in North Fitzroy

8744 Fitzroy history - art deco street in North Fitzroy

Courtesy of the Fitzroy local history collection / ID: 8744 / photographer: unknown / copyright: expired – image is in the public domain / c1948

8745 Fitzroy history - art deco street in North Fitzroy

Courtesy of the Fitzroy local history collection / ID: 8745 / photographer: unknown / copyright: expired – image is in the public domain / c1948

Fitzroy history – art deco street in North Fitzroy

9 thoughts on “Fitzroy history – art deco street in North Fitzroy

  • 1 December 2009 at 8:04 am
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    This is one of my favourite buildings too – just gorgeous! The older photograph is fascinating, especially the absence of the stairway.

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  • 1 December 2009 at 10:02 am
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    The staircase looks circa 1950s-1960s, probably installed as a fire escape for Health & Safety, etc.
    Only reason I can think it might be referred to as “slums” ( for what would have been a relatively new-ish building) is possible over-crowding due to the Post-WW2 lack of available housing and building materials.
    Lovely streetscape!

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    • 1 December 2009 at 10:24 am
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      That’s a good theory – with possible internal changes to accomodate more people perhaps requiring an external staircase.

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  • 1 December 2009 at 4:51 pm
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    What is also interesting is that there appears to be tram cabling on the corner of Pilkington and Barkly Streets in 1948.

    In 1925 (24 March), according to Yarra Tram’s website, a connecting line was opened from Lygon Street to St Georges Road via Brunswick Road, Holden Street, Pilkington Street and Barkly Street.

    The tram line is not shown in my 1962 Collins Street Directory. The East Brunswick line opened in 1956 – maybe the line wasn’t considered necessary after this time.

    Apropos the slum description from 1948, according to the City of Yarra Review of Heritage Overlay Areas 2007: Appendix 7, the land in Pilkington Street was owned by the MMTB until 1939/40. Construction of Beryl Flats (and presumably Bali Bali Flats and Berkely or Barkly Flats) was occurring in 1940/41. Only seven years from brand new to slum is a bit harsh! Oswald Barnett obviously had very exacting standards – or the government wanted a freeway or power-line through the area.

    Cheers,

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    • 1 December 2009 at 7:03 pm
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      I would not read too much into the Picture Victoria description about it being a slum – I have used the site a lot and it is inconsistent at best. That would have been such a handy tram line! It is so hard to go east-west sometimes in the inner north.

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  • 7 November 2010 at 9:10 pm
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    My mother lived in one of the ground floor flats at Beryl Court before she was married. I have some lovely old photos of her family out the front of the flats. Thank you for publishing the photo, as it is the only photo I have seen which shows the entire building.

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  • 4 December 2015 at 10:14 am
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    My dad grew up directly across the road and we still own my grandparents house. The corner block was originally a house lived in by a family(I don’t remember their name) and my Aunty used to go to school with their daughter. They later moved out of the house as it was too big and converted the building into apartments thus adding the metal staircase.

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