44-46 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy

Prior to 1878, numbers 44 – 46 Brunswick Street had a variety of uses including livery stables, printers, a piano factory, and sewing machine depot. The current two storey building on number 44 was erected in 1880 for owner John Mann. The centre-opening shown on the photograph led to livery stables at the rear, with shops on either side and rooms above. From 1879 to 1880, the rate book valuation of the property increased from £14 to £90, and the 1880 property description was “livery yard, & Brick Stone 2 shops, 8 rooms’“ In 1885 the southern shop was occupied by the Albany Milk Depot, and at No 46 John Mall had a hay and corn store, with his livery stables behind. Today the Metropole Hotel occupies numbers 44 and 46.

44-46 Brunswick Street today, photo by M Moore and P Woods

The information in this post has been sourced from the Fitzroy History Society Newsletter (June 2020) written by members Mike Moore and Peter Woods:

Charles Marshall (approximately 1925 – 1975)

Charles Marshall was born in New Zealand in 1864 and came with his family to Melbourne in the early 1870s. Initially a gas fitter in Gertrude Street, his expanding engineering and metal working business transferred to 44-46 Brunswick Street by 1925. It remained at this location for at least five decades before moving to 451 Burnley Street, Richmond.

No. 44 Brunswick St during the time of Charles Marshall (photographer unknown)

The Charles Marshall P/L company remains in operation today. An extract from their website follows:

“Charles Marshall P/L is a family run business based in Richmond, Victoria, Australia. Charles Marshall established his engineering business in Fitzroy, Victoria in 1880. Over one hundred and thirty years on, the company has grown, prospered and is still owned and run by the Marshall family. Our flagship product is an extensive range of FITZROY Ball Bearing Sliding Track systems. This unique patented system covers a vast range of applications from light-weight kitchen drawers up to giant one tonne door installations and beyond. Developed in 1932, the unique FITZROY system provides a reliable and simple solution to the challenge of finding a durable sliding door track.”

A FITZROY system was fitted to the bronze doors in 1932 at the Shrine of Remembrance in Melbourne. Today, that same system shows negligible wear and is still operating with effortless ease.

Charles Marshall is credited as the inventor of the first operating traffic signals in Melbourne, in 1937. The first installation of the Marshalite signals, (described popularly as ‘clock’ signals), was agreed to as a trial by the Fitzroy Council and was installed at the intersection of Brunswick and Gertrude Streets not far from the Marshall factory. The signals comprised four large circular faces mounted on a pedestal in the centre of the intersection with a single hand rotating continuously. The red or green colour on the clock face behind the hand indicated to drivers who had the right-of-way.

An original signal is mounted in the forecourt of RACV headquarters in Bourke Street Melbourne.

It was not until 1945 that the signals were officially approved. They were then installed at the Johnston Street–Brunswick Street intersection where they controlled traffic for many years.”

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