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Town Hall Station dig site

We undertook archaeological digs at the future site of Town Hall Station on Swanston Street and Flinders Street.

History of the site

Historical records tell us that the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets was occupied in the earliest years of European settlement of Melbourne, purchased by Melbourne’s founder John Batman for £100 in November 1837.

Batman built a seven room, timber structure on the site which became known as Roxburgh Cottage. Historical documents show that in 1838 the property was known locally as Miss Cooke’s Seminary for Ladies. This was the first school for girls to be established in Melbourne and Batman’s three youngest daughters boarded at the school.

By the 1850s, when the gold rush struck, brick and timber buildings were constructed on Swanston Street that were occupied by an ironmonger, a wine and spirits merchant, a hotel and solicitor.

Following demolition of Port Phillip Arcade and the strip of fast food outlets on Swanston Street we looked for building remains such as stone footings and brick walls, and artefacts that were used, lost and discarded by Melburnians living and working here during the 1800s.

Items of interest in this location included objects of everyday use such as crockery, bottles, coins, toys and the remains of food eaten such as bones and shell, as well as objects relating to the commercial use of the area.

Bird’s eye view of Melbourne, 1875, showing St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral on the intersection of Swanston   and Flinders streets; the fish market (later replaced by Flinders Street Railway Station) and Princes Bridge Hotel (corner Flinders and Swanston streets). Credit: Pictures Collection, State Library of VictoriaBird’s eye view of Melbourne, 1875, showing St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral on the intersection of Swanston and Flinders streets; the fish market (later replaced by Flinders Street Railway Station) and Princes Bridge Hotel (corner Flinders and Swanston streets). Credit: Pictures Collection, State Library of Victoria"