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Montague Community Alliance

13 Jul 2017

The forgotten Montague

By way of brief introduction my name is Sara and I have been a resident of Montague for the past nine years.

Since moving into the area, I have seen many changes to the landscape. The flurry of activity, particularly in the past 12 months, can only be described as dramatic. As many are already aware the Fishermans Bend redevelopment is in full swing with a school and two residential developments near completion and many more about to begin.

With all this change, it makes one think not only about where the area is headed but also about its past. A couple of months ago I made the decision to see what I could find out about the area.

On initial investigation, I have come know that the Montague of old, was a thriving and tight-knit community. Although still part of South Melbourne, the area bordered by Ferrars St to Boundary Rd and from City Rd to the railway line became known as Montague in 1883 after the establishment of the railway station, now known as stop number 126 on the 109 Port Melbourne tram line.

In 1875, the area had about 560 homes and by the turn of the century it had increased to more than 1000 with 22 streets and lanes. It had its own kindergarten, school, church, shops, pubs, police station and even a football team, the Montague Rovers.

At least a third of the homes were owner-occupied with many working as labourers, firemen, boilermakers, mariners and shipwrights. Montague, was a working-class area and even though a bit rough and tumble, it was very much loved by those who lived here.

However, the land that this community was built upon was flood prone and, as result, many of the homes became damp and decayed. This unfortunately contributed to the government declaring the area a slum and by the late 1930s the area had been marked for demolition by the Slum Abolition Board.

Over the course of the next 30 years residents were moved on. Many moved to neighbouring Port Melbourne and some left the area altogether.

By the 1960s the area was known as an industrial hub and still is today. However, some homes and businesses remained. To date, there are 11 terrace homes from the late 1800s still standing, nine homes built by the local government in the mid 1930s and two pubs – The Fleece Hotel and Wayside Inn.

It saddens me to think that, with all the changes Montague has seen and is experiencing, its history may be lost. It is my plan to find out much more about the area particularly about those who once lived and worked here.

Buildings can come and go but it is the community spirit that we should hold on to and foster. As we move rapidly toward the future, I can only hope that new residents along with the existing can revive old Montague and become a thriving and tight knit community once again.

Sara Madderson - Guest Columnist

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