27 October 2021

Review: Old Vintage Melbourne by Chris Macheras

Old Vintage Melbourne by Chris Macheras book cover

* Copy courtesy of Scribe Publications *

Old Vintage Melbourne by Chris Macheras is a stunning collection of historical photographs of Melbourne, spanning from the very earliest photographs from the mid 1880s right through to the mid 1990s. For some readers, Old Vintage Melbourne will be a trip down memory lane, while for others it's the chance to see the city of Melbourne as their parents or grandparents did.

I thoroughly enjoyed taking my time to observe the development of the city and the establishment of the iconic buildings we recognise today. I also enjoyed studying the detail of the various pedestrians in some of the photos and wondering about their lives. Some were completely unaware a photograph was being taken while others brazenly stare at the camera in awe or curiosity. These photographs give us a rare glimpse of everyday life in Melbourne, as in the photograph of 'Bourke Street Pedestrians' c. 1880 by John Henry (Page 39).

This collection is annotated and organised chronologically and I especially loved the 'Then and Now' comparison photos, in which the site of an historical image is photographed again today to allow the viewer to compare the images and notice what has changed during the intervening years. Being able to study photographs of Southbank prior to its significant redevelopment and the eventual establishment of the building where I'm living right now was a real highlight.

I also enjoyed spotting the signage and advertisements painted on the buildings and store fronts through the years, and it reminded me of Nick Gadd's love of ghost signs (see my interview with this Melbourne author here).

Old Vintage Melbourne encourages the reader to reflect on the inevitable passage of time, the remarkable evolution of Melbourne and the marvellous architecture this great city has to offer. On the flip side, it also highlights the tragic loss of some of the most enchanting and attractive buildings in Melbourne all in the name of progress in the 1960s and 1970s. It made my heart ache to see photographs of glorious buildings only to learn they've since been torn down. The Federal Coffee Palace was located at 555 Collins Street and opened in 1888, but this beautifully grand building was tragically torn down in 1973. Another architecturally pleasing building was the Camberwell Post Office, built in 1890 and demolished in 1963. If you know the Witches in Britches building at 84 Dudley Street in West Melbourne, the Camberwell PO had 10 times the gothic charm and its loss is a tragedy.

Seeing Flinders Street Station decked out for the royal visit of Queen Elizabeth II in February 1954 was impressive, and it must have been a sight to behold with the banners and the upper dome decorated to resemble a crown. Wow! 

Impeccably produced, Old Vintage Melbourne by Chris Macheras is presented in a large hardback format enabling a better view of the photographs within. I enjoyed my time within its pages immensely and finished reading with a renewed respect and appreciation for Melbourne's heritage. 

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

Would you like to comment?

Thanks for your comment, Carpe Librum!