437 Napier Street, Fitzroy

Google image – July 2019


In the late 1830s the land of Fitzroy was subdivided into sections along with other areas north of the city. Within Fitzroy there were 12 sections, the most undesirable, being section 85 which consisted of majority swamp lands. I am not sure who purchased section 85 of Jika Jika parish, but, at some point between the late 1830’s and 1970’s the land becomes the property of J.M. Smith Esq. a solicitor from England who was fast making his fortunes in Melbourne. Over the period from 1840-1880 the large sections of Fitzroy were broken down and subdivided for the purpose of building houses (refer Fitzroy – Melbourne’s First Suburb, p.10-11, The First Suburb by Miles Lewis). The last of these sections was section 85. In 1876, a plan for the subdivision of the block bordered by Cecil St (N), Young St (W), Westgarth St (S) and Napier St (E) was created. You can see from the map below that there was a strange design applied to the sites. In particular, on Napier St, site 12, 14, 16 and 18 were double blocks.

This site was the single block 15.

Section of the 1876 Plan of Subdivision of part of section 85 Parish of Jika Jika Fitzroy, 1876 – State Library

John F Collins & Marla Collins – resident 1890-1920

John Collins must pass away between 1885-1890.

The above photo was taken in April 1901. The photo is taken from Gore street, looking west along Westgarth Street. There were no houses between Gore and Napier Street north of Westgarth Street. The two story house towards the right of this picture is 437 Napier Street. It is the oldest photo I have located of this street. (Junior Cricket: Fitzroy La Mascotte v. South Yarra. Scene of the exciting play on Saturday at Smith Street Reserve, Fitzroy, The Australasian, 27 April 1901, p.26)

During the war Lemuel Walter Collins (Jeweller) of this address is recorded as a Private, Regiment No: 3713, 8th Bn (Database of Fitzroy WW1 Soldiers as at 25 Oct 2015).

Miss Rose Collins – resident 1925 (Sands & MacDougall)

Richard Owen Jones (Wood Machinist) and Eileen Jones (Dress Maker) – resident 1925 (Australian Electoral Roll, 1925)

David Gourley – resident 1930

Mrs Cath. Fletcher – resident 1935-1945

Chas H Sprague – resident 1950-1955

Chas. was previously resident of 435 Napier St in 1945.

Mrs M A Sprague – resident 1960-1975

437 is on the right – Committee for Urban Action (between 1970-1974) – Identifier CUAFY62/6-7 – State Library

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