Queen Victoria Building and Queens Walk Arcade

The delightful Queen Victoria Building, once on the corner of Swanston and Collins, in a close up of a painting from 1889 by Jacques Carabain, a French/Belgian artist who made a living going round the world and painting street scenes (usually exotic locales though). Then a scan of a slide of the building from the @nationaltrustvic collection I happen to have, showing it in colour (a bit faded, a bit grimy, probably from the early 60s), then a close up of the big statue of Queen Vic that was up on the corner under the unusual roof (which disappeared by 1910). The statue or at least the head was souvenired by Whelam the Wrecker when it was demolished in 1966 by a developer who might have built an office tower if the @cityofmelbourne hadn’t then decided to buy the empty corner for the much talked about city square. Last pic is a better one of the whole building from the 1920s. And yes the arcade was delightful too, another post coming on that one! Painting and last image from @library_vic, photo of head from A City Lost & Found by Robyn Annear, from the Whelan’s own collection.

The long gone now much lamented Queens Walk Arcade, once a feature of the Queen Victoria Building in the corner of Swanston & Collins, was captured in at least a dozen images by Mark Strizic in the 50s and early 60s. One arm of the L shaped arcade faced north, and shooting into the sun was a favourite technique of his, capturing shoppers and reflections and shadows. But the point of this post is that my eagle eye could tell the shops were early 20th C, not 1888 style, when the building it’s in was built. @jdflemington did some research for me, but even his great skills couldn’t say why Queens Walk was mentioned in 1888, but not ‘arcade’. Then I found an article from Nov 1922 saying architects Sydney Smith Ogg & Serpell were going to roof it with glass, to create Queens Walk Arcade, as well as 7 new shops, bring the front walls closer in, and add glass domes at each end – so I was right ! Though I didn’t think it wasn’t even an arcade earlier. Seems it was more like a lane, open to the elements, and instead of shops had tenants like the Ladies Benevolent Association. The Malstedt fire insurance plan from 1910 shows the alterations pasted on, and names some of the shops (note H Buck). Then the 1923 plan shows it after the works. So the beautiful arcade Strizic was capturing was created in 1923, then unceremoniously demolished in 1966, then the empty site was bought by the @cityofmelbourne for the City Square, which in my opinion never really worked well, and we shouldn’t bother rebuilding it now we have Fed Square. If only none of that had ever happened….

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