Gertrude Street

During the land sales in 1839, Lot 48 was the most popular. The next best was Lot 49 which also fronted Victoria Parade. This was bought by Sydney merchant Thomas Walker who sold it five months later to Captain Benjamin Baxter and his partner Captain Brunswick Smythe. Baxter quartered the land creating Brunswick Street and Gertrude Street. Unlike other land owners, those in the adjoining lots agreed to continue both Gertude Street, east and west, and Brunswick Street to the north. (Gertrude Street, Jill Robertson, Fitzroy History Society, p.2-3)

Diagram from Jill Robertson’s Gertrude Street, p.3

“In the 1850s the first recorded houses appear on Gertrude Street, four on the north side and two on the south side. Only two new buildings were officially recorded the following year. However from 1852 to 1854 there was a unprecedented building boom in the wake of the gold discoveries in regional Victoria, with at least 60 new buildings recorded in Gertrude Street, signalling the beginning of its importance as a trading street and main thoroughfare. Builders used a range of building materials including timber (the most common), bluestone, iron and brick. ” By the 1960s there were a range of shops, stables, hotels, and a church (Gertrude Street, Jill Robertson, Fitzroy History Society, p.4-5)

Image supplied by A Hollo – Looking from about 32-34 Gertrude Street eastwards. The most distinctive buildings that still remain today are the end of 37-39 Gertrude Street on the left (the roundish tower is above 39) and on the right, number 40 is the white building and behind it the cream building is also still there.

“In August 1993, the proposed new historicist cast-iron street lights for Gertrude Street were opposed by many people as bogus history. They were funded by a $1 million federal heritage grant. By then, some had already been installed” (Richard Peterson, Fitzroy History Society Newsletter, August 2022). The rest were installed and now form part of the charm of the street, even though they are not original.

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