An early Melbourne railway story

The  Melbourne & Hobson’s Bay Railway Company started Melbourne’s and Australia’s first steam railway service between Sandridge (Port Melbourne) and Flinders Street in 1854, only twenty years after Melbourne was founded. 

The railway was built to the Irish gauge of 5 ft 3 in (1600 mm) because the chief engineer from Sydney who set the standards was Irish, when he was replaced by a Scot, NSW switched to 4 ft 8 ½ in (1435 mm), the English and Scottish gauge, but Victoria had already ordered its trains and was unable to change. This was the reason and the beginning of Australia’s railway gauge problem.

The Melbourne and Suburban Railway Company was formed in 1857. It had authorization to build a railway line from Princes Bridge to Windsor with a spur from Richmond to Hawthorn as well.

The line from Princes Bridge to Richmond opened in 1859 and in that same year extended to another station named Pic-Nic in the Cremorne Gardens on the banks of the Yarra River. In 1860 they built a bridge over the Yarra River to have the line extended to South Yarra, Prahran and then eventually reaching, Windsor in 1861. Another bridge was built in 1861 for a spur to reach Hawthorn.

Plagued with financial problems around the time the Windsor and Hawthorn stations were completed, the company sold out to the Melbourne Railway Company in 1862.

The Melbourne Railway Company along with many other private railway companies was taken over by the government owned Victorian Railways in the early 1880s.

The era had begun and Melbourne’s suburban railway network experience significant growth over the next two decades.


Development & Planning

Wednesday, December 13, 2017 - 12:00
The swirl of development activity in Footscray has found another gear as new projects are submitted for approval, or are on the verge of beginning construction. Two separate planning applications have been advertised by Maribyrnong City Council; their subsequent addition to the Urban Melbourne Project Database has seen the overall number of apartment developments within Footscray in development swell to 40.

Policy, Culture & Opinion

Monday, November 20, 2017 - 12:00
The marriage of old and new can be a difficult process, particularly when the existing structure has intrinsic heritage value. In previous times Fitzroy's 237 Napier Street served as the home of furniture manufacturer C.F. Rojo and Sons. Taking root during 1887, Christobel Rojo oversaw operations though over time the site would become home to furniture manufacturer Thonet.

Visual Melbourne

Friday, August 25, 2017 - 07:00
The former site of John Batman's home, Batman's Hill is entering the final stages of its redevelopment. Collins Square's final tower has begun its skyward ascent, as has Lendlease's Melbourne Quarter Commercial and Residential precinct already. Melbourne Quarter's first stage is at construction and involves a new 12-storey home for consultancy firm Arup along with a skypark.

Transport & Design

Friday, December 15, 2017 - 11:00
Infrastructure Victoria unveiled a new round of research into its larger programme of work dealing with managing transport demand. The authority contracted Arup and KPMG to produce the Melbourne Activity Based Model (MABM) and while it is new, it is considered fit for purpose in the strategic context.

Sustainability & Environment

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 12:00
Cbus Property's office development for Medibank at 720 Bourke Street in Docklands recently became the first Australian existing property to receive a WELL Certification, Gold Shell and Core rating. The WELL rating goes beyond sustainable building features with a greater focus on the health and well-being of a building's occupants.