Delve into the captivating history of the Arden Station site

Delve into the captivating history of the Arden Station site

If you head down to the site of the future Arden Station, you might learn a thing or two about the fascinating history of the area.

From a beautiful lake to a foetid swamp, Depression-era slums and delicious bakeries, the site has seen a lot – and now this rich history has been turned into an illustrated timeline, on display along Laurens St at the Metro Tunnel construction site.

Conceived by the Metro Tunnel Creative Program in collaboration with the North and West Melbourne Association and historian Christine Eid of Tow Projects, True North looks at a once-pristine wetland’s evolution into a wasteland, and the impacts of industry, poverty and gentrification on a growing city.

“One of the most surprising discoveries during my research was that where Arden Station’s construction site now sits, once lay a beautiful wetland known as Blue Lake,” Ms Eid said.

“Its abundant flora and fauna sustained and nurtured the life and cultural traditions of the local Kulin people for millennia, but within 20 years of European settlement, this once-pristine Blue Lake was transformed into a dumping ground for industrial and household waste, and became a wasteland known as West Melbourne Swamp.”

The dumping ground made way for the introduction of the railway and the arrival of industry, including prominent flour millers and biscuit makers.

The area transformed again during the Great Depression, when it was home to the Dudley Flats shanty town – a hotbed of crime and poverty, where residents lived in tents and shacks before gentrification kicked in in the 1950s.

For Ms Eid, True North is an opportunity to show locals something they may not know about the history of the area.

“One of my favourite aspects of the True North illustrated timeline is how it engages and connects with the passer-by,” she said.

“By featuring artefacts, photographs and ephemera, True North brings to life the buildings, the sites and the stories of North and West Melbourne in and around the construction site of Arden Station.”

“It makes a connection between the buildings and the goods that they once manufactured, between a site and the interesting characters that inhabited the area and between a process and the end product.”

The timeline will be on public display until late 2022 •

John Buncle

John Buncle

February 14th, 2024 - Felicity Jack
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