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Richmond in the 'Fifties
By J. ALEX. ALLAN.
To find the boundaries of Cremorne
Gardens-once Wright's Swamp -as they were in the 'fifties' and 'sixties' begin from the river end of Cremorne street
Richmond. Walk north
to Balmain street and, turning to
the right, bear eastward till you reach the corner of Stephenson street. From this point Coppin's boundary fence of hardwood 10ft high ran south to the Yarra, along the line of what is now the west wall of the Rosella Preserving Com- pany's factory. Contrary to the usual belief the Rosella Company's buildings do not stand on any part of what was once Cremorne, but occupy that part of Kirk's paddock which was leased by Higgins, the "pantechnicon man," as a "park" for cabs -probably the first "parking" area in Mel-
On Saturday, December 3, 1853, Mr. James Ellis, late of Cremorne Gardens, London, opened to the public, after exten- sive advertising, the resort which was to become so famous under George Coppin. At first Ellis declared the gardens to be
"open for promenade and refreshment, without charge for admission " At this time he was also running a circus at the Salle de Valentino, at the top of Bourke street. A special charge of 5/ for admittance was made for the "opening day of the enter- tainment season" at Cremorne-Saturday, December 10, 1853-when the gardens were formally opened at 1 o'clock. "Tickets," said the advertisements, "of Mr. Baker, stationer Swanston Street, Mr J. Wil-
liams, stationer, Swanston street, and of S Goods, printers, 56 Swanston street"
In the centre of the gardens had been elected a "Parisian platform," on which a concert and dance were given each evening. "Instruction," stated Mr. Ellis, "given nightly on that last new and very exciting dance 'Pop Goes the Weazel,' M. Julllien's new dance " "The Argus" of the following Monday' described the gardens as an "Elli- sian (sic) retreat, and not inferior to the Cremorne Gardens at Battersea " "A warm evening it was," added the writer, "for polka, quadrille, and waltz," The Speaker (Dr. Palmer) and the mayor (Mr. Hodgson) were there, although the Lieu- tenant-Governor (Mr. La Trobe) did not
Cremorne Gardens as they were in
From a plan prepared by Mr. W. Jamieson of the Lands department, from information supplied bv Mr George Buller, of Miller Street Richmond -possibly the only survivor of Mr. George Coppin's staff at Cremorne Key to numbers -1, Higgins s Pantechnicon, 2. Kirks house, 3. trestles and tightrope, 4 Coppin's house, 5, side shows, 6, Pantheon Theatre, 7. refreshment booth: 8, Crystal Bar, 9. gasometer, 10, landing stage for gondolas, & 11, Peachman's Hotel, 12, Cherry Tree
attend. The conductor Mr Winterbot- tom, ruled the 'BaL of Fairie' and the nightly revels "in the pure and balmy air, under an Italian sky," declared the roman- tic Mr. Ellis overlooking Oddly's fellmon- gery, which adjoined the gardens on the
James Ellis, sole proprietor held Cremome until December 24 1855, when Mr. P. Scott took over. But Cre- morne attained its zenith under George Coppin who was aged 35 when he acquired the management having been born in Sussex in 1819. ln company with G. V. Bourke he bought the freehold of the gardens to which he added in 1838 by acquiring the area of Ryan's pig- ery on the east. He opened them on No- vember 1, 1856 receiving the "elite of Mel-
bourne" on that evening said "The Argus" of November 3 1856 " by the light of a young moon and a wildeness of stars."
With his customary energy Coppin set out after what were at the time "rare and astonishing novelties." It is estimated that the amount he expended on Cremorne be- tween November 1 1856 and February 26, 1859, when Brooke and Coppin dissolved partnership was not less than £100 000. He brought out two aeronauts from England, Captain Dean and Professor Brown, who made ascents in balloons. Sometimes Cop- pin would go up. Admittance for adults
was 2 6, and for children 1 3. Steamers ran every 15 minutes from Princes Bridge, the fares being 6d to 9 p.m. and 1/ after that hour. There were two hotels with- in the grounds, and the following warning
exhibited at the entrance, was perhpas not
indispensable: - "Notice! Persons guilty of indecorous language or conduct will be im- mediately given in charge. G Coppin." The walks were "brilliantly illuminated with gas' fiom Coppins own gasometer; and "The Argus" of November 4, 1856 reported that "a concourse of several thousand per- sons completely thronged the gardens. though the weather was cold and bluster-
ing. Two M.'s.C., Messrs. Winterbottom and Smart, ruled the dancing platform whitch was overcrowded. A capital vocal concert was given by Miss Julia Harland
The site of Cremorne Gardens as it is to-day. The area is marked black.
and Messrs, Farquharson and Sherwin .Mr Linley Norman accompanied " Mr Coppin was counselled to 'descend as soon as pos- sible to the genuine British weakness-the shilling entrance' - and 'The Argus" added, ' We saw nothing last night at which the most fastidious could take exception "
St Valentine's Day, 1857
Let us step back oxer the gap of 76 years,
and, resplendent in top hats, strapped trousers, whiskers, and macassai- oiled hair, join the group awaiting us at the Prince's Bridge landing-stage the beautiful night of St Valentines Day, 1857. This morning the papers told us that ' Ned Yeamans will to-night present the prettiest young lady with a "valentine" adding lyrically
"Would you meet the lady fair
That Cupid deems should ever be there To Cremorne Gardens then revisit
And meet your charming Valentine"
Each of us had selected his lady fair, and brought her to the Bridge by Albert car, so she might not soil her dainty prunella boots, from Hotham Hill, Canvas Town, Collingwood, or even the wilds of "Merri Creek'-crinoline, parasol, bonnet, and all. Once aboard the saucy Alice, our chosen "steam gondola" we chug merrily up by the low, scrubby bank, leaving be- hind Flinders steet and the squat weather- bord building of the new Hobson's Bay Railway Company-opened in September, 1854. On our left is a chain of small lakes, on our right the Botanic Gardens. We reach 'Richmond Punt Road," pass Pete- galil's malthouse and reach the landing stage at the river end of Cremorne street. On our left as we walk across to the ticket box is the quaintly named 'Well, Never Mind," the refieshment kiosk of one Saunders who, with his sons, minds a boat on the river. The kiosk stands high on piles driven into the swampy ground.
Just inside the gardens on the right, is Mrs. Peachman's hotel. Its brightly lit bar hums with noise - no early closing here! From the gardens entrance a path 10ft wide runs north past the end of Cremorne Lake, bearing east as we near the gasometer, toward the menagerie. The gasometer has been installed by Mr. Coppin for the purpose ot filling his balloons and lighting the countless strings of little coloured lamps which cross in every direc- tion. Before its installation the lamps were fed with oil and the balloons had to be filled in Melbourne and brought down the Richmond Punt road to Cremorne, with the small boys of Melbourne hanging on to the guy-ropes in the hope of free
Behind the gasometer and occupying the north-west corner ot the rectangle which encloses Cremorne, are two or three houses shut off from the gardens by a high stone wall, which separates them from the Cremorne ménagerie, with its "emu, wallaby,eagle, kangaioo, lions, elephant, monkeys, opossums, parakeets and bright plumaged Australian birds" These houses belong to "Billy" Jenkins cornetist of the gardens orchestra: and it rather ruffles Mr Coppin that Billy will not sell. Mr. Coppins private residence within the Gar- dens has double entrance gates opening across the end of Cubitt street; beautiful flower -beds suround the house. Along the Balmain street boundary, from Cremorne to Stephenson streets, runs a high stone wall
topped with glass which uninvited guests have lately been breaking off short. It vas over this wall that a few weeks ago, the wary and exasperated Mr. Coppin hav- ing found two men clambering ilheitly
greeted the visitors with a bucket of tar which having spread and hardened on the tough road outside now presents a glassy surface highly prized by the youth of Rich- mond as an "alley ring"
Turning a little to the right we plunge into the "maze", whence shortly issue at
intervals laughter and smothered squeals. From a huge dancing platform in the centre ot the ground comes the rhythm of feet and the swish of hooped skirts punctuated by the parade ground voice of the M. C. Stretching north and south, a little to the west of the dancers, is a high platform 25ft. wide and 50ft. lomg, on which
are set up the Italian Brothers' horizontal
bars and trapeze. Ase pause, Mr. Pablo Fanque who later will give his "Un-
rivalled Performance on the Corde Valante, Making his Grand Ascent and Decent Across the lake upon a rope 300ft. long
and 60ft. high Amidst a Discharge of Bril-
liant Fireworks" is introducing his cele- brated hoibe Wellington. "whose dorsley and sense have elicited shouts of applause from delighted audiences. Among his tricks he will - Fetch and Carry like a Spaniel Dog. Fire of a Pistol -March, Dance take off his Saddle. take a Small Coin from a Bucket of Water &.c
Side Shows In Plenty
Near Mr. Coppins house and hard by the abutment of Gwynne street on the wall of Cremorne, lies the beautiful little Pantheon Theatre. Here Mr. G. V. Brooke stages real plays, in conipany with Mr. G. B. W. Lewis who built Astley' Amphi- theatre in Sprng street in 1854, Madam Birch (Mrs Lewis) and Sir William and lady Don. Here also may be seen the Edouin family of comedians, Juan For- nandez who nightly puts his head into a lion's mouth and Bartine the trapezist Booths and side shows aire everywhere -
"Fat Boy" "Bearded Woman" Ethiopians Poses Plastiques, Dancers, Bisccnnsecopy Photographic Establishments, Wizards, Cockups, Knockemdowns, Bowling Saloon, Shooting Gallery, Billiards, Swing' Boat, Punch and Judy, Cheap Johns and Bazaars" Melbourne's fair woman, lan- guishing in the heat, may comfort them- selves with ices gingerbread, or lolly pops ' For then swains there are Mrs. Peach- mans and Tom Nunn's Chrystal Bars within the giounds.
Outside on the eastern boundary one Higgins who keeps the pantechnicon which supplies fruit coidials and cakes to all comers has leased recently for £10 a year, part of the paddock behind the riverside house of Mr. Kirk of the Horse Bazaar.
Higgins is reaping a rich harvest. In the space he accommodates for 1 a night the vehicles of cabmen who are waiting for then weary, homing clients- thus saving the drivers the shame of finding that, while they were absent in the bar of Isaac Nusedas Chery Tree, opposite Cremorne railway station, the urchins whom they had tipped to watch their vehicles had callously abandoned them to the merry of the police
It is past 10 o clock. We have been everywhere. We have rowed idly about the watercress bordered lake in a hired boat, while fair women trailed delicate
fingers in the water. We have applauded
Mr. Clarence Holt in the new drama of Don Alphonso, and Mr. W. H Stephens of the Theatre Royal in his 'slight enter- tainment ' entitled "My friend Chum'
with the song of ' The Slap up London Swel"l and we have marvelled at Air Stething, the Celebrated Athlete, and Lola Montes, the Spanish dancer. We have seen everything from M. Lalannes monkeys and dogs to Merlin's Staircase, the Rustic Retreat and the Descending Room. We have watched the Sagacious Elephant
"take the water"
From Brächet's dance saloon on the farther side of Balmain street come the throb of music and the pulse of feet. A myriad tiny lamps wink along the wind- ing paths with their white statues. We thread our way to the river gate where Cyclornmas depicting Sebastopol and the City of Canton once stood beside the lake. 'Vesuvills' erupts her fireworks "lava"
while Pablo Fanqué treads his cautious way along the lofty ' Corde Volante' across the water as Madame de la Casse will do on nights to come .The voice of Mr Winter- bottom sounds faintly and more faintly from the dance platform as we pass out to the landing stage and embark again for Princes Bridge
At noon on Novomber 23, 1863 there began a two days' sale at which Mr. L King by direction of Mr George Coppin, offered by auction to the lovers of art Directors of Public Institutions. Ornament- tal Gardens. Captains of Vessels, Specula
tors etc all the splendid statues, 150 works of art the menagerie looking-glasses and beer engines furniture and goods, «ecu er) ind piopertv lamps and llltiminatoi horse and cart diav htuness and all goods and effects without reseñe' A specul tram was îun to Cremorne station Thoo was a large attendance commented Ihe Vi gus " and the scene was somewhat mel
ancholy The two lions went for £100 ' Certain statues which now stand in the Fitzroy Gardens once adorned Cremorne. For the rest if youwalk down Cremnorne street Richmond and pause it the last house on the left before you reach the river vou may see standing isolated m the middle of a back garden a piece of old stone wall,
crumbling and creeper-grown that was once part of the boundary of Coppin"s domain in its heydav.