390A Queens Parade, Fitzroy North (Bakehouse)

“Mr. James Willmott opened a retail bakery at 392 Queens Parade(then 384 Northcote Road) in 1887. He leased the premises for the first 20 years of operation. Then in 1906 he purchased the property at 392 and the land at 394-396 Queens Parade where he had the current two shops built in 1909. He purchased the land at 390A Queens Parade in 1902 and by the end of that year had built a bakehouse on this land in association with his retail bakery at 392 Queens Parade. In 1889 the Jewish Herald contained an advertisement for the Excelsior Bakery of Queens Parade, Clifton Hill. It described
James Willmott as baker and pastrycook with Weddings and Birthday Cakes a Speciality. In 1940 an advertisement in the Advocate advertised the “IDEAL” SHORTBREAD CO. 392 Queens Parade….The Penny Shortbread of the Century…. Delivered anywhere in Australia.” (Terence Nott, Fitzroy History Society Newsletter June 2021)

Google Image – November 2020
Detail from MMBW Plan No. 50 of 1900. The land
purchased by Willmott in 1902 is outlined in green.
Note: his shop at 392 Queens Parade (north of the
laneway) was already in existence.

“James Willmott died in 1933. Florence Willmott rented the shop on Queens Parade and the bakehouse at 390A to the Ideal Shortbread Co. from 1933 to1948. The property was then sold to Thomas Ray O’Connell who continued to rent the property to the Ideal Shortbread Co. until 1966. The former brick bakehouse building still stands at 390A Queens Parade, North Fitzroy. It is on the corner of three lanes a short distance up a wide lane behind Queens Parade. The brick building consists of a gabled two storey structure and a skillion lean-to. Original windows and the upper level loft opening in the end gable have been altered. Two original brick chimneys have been removed and new openings have been made in the walls. Otherwise, the general shape and structure have remained little altered externally. A comparison can be made between the attached recent photo and the recreated drawing prepared by FHS member Terence Nott. The original timber stables building, next to the bakehouse, still feature in the Charles Pratt aerial photo of 1925-40.” (Terence Nott, Fitzroy History Society Newsletter June 2021).

Images created by Terence Nott showing the former bakery.

“By 1957 the stables had been demolished and by c.1962 a warehouse building had been erected on this site. Until recently the bakehouse had been leased to a range of tenants
and a portion of it is still being used as an electrical substation by Citi Power. There is a recent proposal by developers to build several three storey units, at 390A Queens Parade, and to alter parts of the brick bakehouse. Although the building and the adjoining properties are included in a Heritage Overlay, the property at 390A, which includes the bakehouse has been left ungraded. There is pressure to have the important historical bakehouse listed as contributory.

It is unknown when the original two storey building at 392 Queens Parade was removed. It was present in the RTA aerial photograph of 1957. My recollection is that the land remained vacant up until the present single storey brick shop was built by Ivor Otley in 1993. Ivor ran his Fitzroy Stained Glass business from the shop until it changed to a take away food outlet (c.2008).” (Terence Nott, Fitzroy History Society Newsletter, June 2021)

Terence Nott, architect, acknowledges this article utilises research carried out by local historian Virginia Noonan and by Natica Schmeder of Landmark Heritage Pty Ltd.

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