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Montague Community Alliance

10 Aug 2017

Understanding our history

In late June early July, I spent time working in two ancient cities that have both undergone and continue to undergo urban renewal.

Belgrade, once the capital of the former Yugoslavia and now the capital of Serbia, is a proud city of approximately 1.5 million people that has withstood extraordinary times. The design of the city is clearly defined with stunning architecture reminiscent of Paris and the Belle Époque of Europe, as well as ancient sites, soviet realism and extraordinary examples of 1970s brutalism.

It has undergone quite specific renewal creating ‘New Belgrade’ from an underdeveloped area of the city that over many decades has become the central business district. This area has both residential and business buildings and incorporates interesting contemporary and functional design.

The second city is London, which is renowned for its mix of ancient and new, with some of the most stunning contemporary icons (The Gherkin for example) as well as remnants of ancient times and of course the beautiful Georgian terraces of the inner London suburbs. Urban renewal has been a feature of London for many, many years and continues to be so.

One of the things that struck me most in talking to my colleagues in both cities was their sense of place and knowledge of the history of these renewal areas. These colleagues are not architects or urban planners (my work is in the psychology of business behaviour), they are residents and workers who just know about, and are proud of, the history of their cities.

I thought a lot about Fishermans Bend and our homes and businesses here in the Montague Precinct and wondered, how much do we know about these areas? Could any of us describe the history? Do we know what businesses were here? Who were the first inhabitants? What did our Indigenous brothers and sisters do here?

I am constantly repeating the refrain that Montague is already a vibrant 24/7 precinct, with multiple residents and businesses. It is not a brown field site and our history needs to be uncovered, known and celebrated.

Thank you to Sara Madderson for her fantastic work on the history of Montague and her article in last month’s Southbank Local News. We hope to continue to bring you more stories and descriptions of the history of the precinct and the legacy from which we are creating the renewal of this already vibrant area.

Over the next few months we will meet and interview some of the locals from the Montague Precinct to learn more about how they feel about their neighbourhood, how they contribute to the area and what their hopes are for the future.

I think it would be great, if, when visitors arrived from elsewhere and asked us about the history of Montague, we can tell them the stories of the area, just as my colleagues did for me in Belgrade and London. Wouldn’t that be something…!


Trisha Avery

Convener - Montague Community Alliance

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