A Travellerspoint blog

This blog is published chronologically. Go straight to the most recent post.

OUR TAXI HERITAGE UNDER THREAT

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Shelter as it appears today

Almost under the shadow of the mighty MCG is this little building. Few know of its history – and important heritage link to the taxi industry – and even fewer care: and not, from past experiences, those charged with keeping the little 1898 built structure safe!

The Grand (now Windsor) Rank Cabman's Shelter was donated to the horse drawn cab drivers of Melbourne and was opened by the then Lord Major who, “Congratulated the rank on now having a place to eat and drink in without being compelled to go to hotels or to feed in their cabs."

It served the cabbies well and was even the site of a dispute between various cabbie factions in 1901 over the use of the then newly installed telephone to the building, which meant intending passengers could phone for a cab, as they do today.

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As it looked in its heyday

Over time, the building ceased to be used and in the late 1960's was moved to Brunton Avenue to make way for Parliament Station on the Melbourne Underground Loop.

Today that little structure is ingloriously used by attendants to store parking signs and witches hats, which are just visible thorough the grimy windows. In the last 6 months it has been attacked 3 times by graffiti vandals. These were eventually slapped over with paint in almost an amateur way. Past attempts of graffiti attacks on the roof are clearly visible. At the time of writing this article, the paint work of the building is peeling, there are cobwebs, rotting timbers and general neglect. All of this whilst within the control of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC), where conservative opulence is visible for the well-to-do in the members area. To cap it off, even the information shard is wrong!

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Disgraceful maintenance

The popular National Sports Museum and MCG Tours operate from Gate 3 of the ground. It has been strongly suggested to the MCC that the Cabman's Shelter be moved inside that gate where it is safe from the weather and vandalism, fully restored to its former glory and re-branded as the 'Shelter of Knowledge'.

Taxi drivers have to pass the Knowledge of Melbourne test and in so doing become 'knowledge men and women'. The amazing MCC tour guides are full of knowledge of the MCG and Melbourne, let's give them a heritage-protected structure as their base. That same structure could contain tourist information on our great city, and, importantly, a small taxi-related museum. This writer has been told the structure would not 'fit in' to that proposed location. (Neither does the historic Coop's Shot Tower at Melbourne Central, or other preserved structures around the world. They have been embraced in their new locations, in the same way the taxi shelter could be.)

If the MCG/MCC cannot do better than the disgraceful condition the Cabman's Shelter is in now, then they should give up their stewardship to an organisation where its future can be secured.

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There is 5 additional blog entries on this campaign. The last page is almost a call to arms and a direct appeal to the Committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club. If you don't want to get bogged down in all the detail - there is a lot - then please jump straight to the LAST PAGE.

Posted by SirGaw 08:20 Comments (0)

HAS OUR TAXI HERITAGE BEEN ABANDONED BY THE MCC??

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If this is how good the maintenance of the shelter is, then'someone' needs to find another job!!!!

On the 20th June 2018 I was alerted to yet another graffiti attack on the heritage listed Cabman's Shelter located beside the Melbourne Cricket Ground and adjoining busy Brunton Avenue in East Melbourne. I took several images including some of the maintenance neglect I had previously photographed over 6 months earlier (13th December 2017).

Monday 25th June at 11 am I had an appointment with 2 senior executives in the well-appointed section of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC). Part of the discussion centred around the fate of the shelter and another part was a gentle but firm rebuke of my activities in relation to the fate of the shelter. I was told the shelter would stay in its current location.

The following day – Tuesday 26th June – I received an e mail from one of the 2 gentlemen, which read in part,

“As communicated to you yesterday regarding the MCC’s code of conduct, although it is OK to express your own personal views, you must not post anything that may have the potential to damage the MCC or any of its employee’s reputation.
That being said, can I please ask you to remove the post below from any form of social media as you have inappropriately stated (deleted) name in this correspondence.”

I did as I was asked and almost immediately removed the post from the MCC's own Facebook Page. I also sent off a reply and reproduced with one personal section deleted as well as names:

'Thanks for your e mail and as I did say in my e mail to (deleted) yes I did tread on a few toes to achieve a better outcome for the shelter than at present.

As requested, I have now removed the post on the MCC Facebook page.

To be perfectly open and honest with you, I should point out that I did send off a message to the owner/moderator of a Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/groups/672164369508943/ (Old Time Photos of Yesterday) and that resulted in a posting to over 14,000 members of that group:

"Members, I usually don't allow or do things like this but I reckon if something is not done now it might be too late, and as a side note I will not be allowing anymore stuff like this. This is the message I received from one of our members David Gawthorn.
'Recently found is this image from 'The Weekly Times' dated Sat 21st Feb 1903 of the cabman's shelter that used to be opposite the now Windsor Hotel. The shelter was moved in the late 1960's/early 1970's to Brunton Ave and close to the MCG where today it is used for storage of parking signs and associated witches hats - almost an insult to the heritage listed value of the shelter built 1898. It has suffered graffiti attacks and I fear that one day it may suffer more than a mindless spray can 'tag' I am trying to have the shelter moved indoors where it is under 24/7 protection AND have the shelter used as a small museum and as 'The Shelter of Knowledge' (London taxi drivers are called 'Knowledge boys (girls too)' because they know everything about London). The little building will contain tourist information and maybe used as the centre piece for the MCC Tour Guides to use as a start/finish point for visitors doing the tour of The G. After 5 months of trying, time to beef up the campaign. All I ask at this stage is to 'like' this posting as that will show those in authority that there are others who care about the preservation of our heritage. If you'd like to assist in any way, please message me. Thanks David Gawthorn"

I can send you a copy/paste of my original message to that owner and you will see that I was asking for an opinion and the message not to be posted. There were 248 'likes' and 30 shares and 11 postings. I do have a copy/paste of the entire thread that you are welcome to view in its entirety. Owing to size I can't e mail it to you, but can bring in tomorrow a USB for you to view.

I did seek an opinion from another source and part read, "David, I do understand the rationale behind not ’going public’ yet I feel it’s absolutely critical in this case, despite the risks. Newspapers, particularly local newspapers, love getting behind stories such as yours and a front page will A. Attract attention and B. Help direct action."

I don't want to 'go public' as I fear the very publicity generated to save the building will attract the wrong element and the shelter may become history!!! Please look at almost every Adshel bus shelter around Melbourne - most, if not all, have suffered considerable vandalism at a huge cost to all of us. Those shelters can be replaced, not so the cabman's shelter under the stewardship of the MCC. Would you like me to contact Adshel and get some figures?

(Name deleted), I ask you to please go for a walk and get up close to the shelter. See for yourself the deplorable condition it is at the moment. I'm at the NSM tomorrow and I'd be happy to go for a walk with you to the shelter.

My aim is for a far better outcome for that little slice of history than the disgrace to the MCC it has become - to anyone that cares to look closely. As I did say in an e mail to (deleted) that I want nothing for myself. I certainly don't want recognition for my efforts. It is all about that structure.

Can you please let me know if you want a USB and if you'd like to go for a 15 minute walk and inspection of the shelter.'

On the 2nd July 2018 (4 working days later) I received a reply, which ignored much of what I had written:

'Hi David,

Thanks for your email and we appreciated you removing the post.

As confirmed in the meeting with (deleted) and myself, the cabmans’ shelter will remain in its current location for the time being, however as part of revising the Yarra Park Masterplan in the medium-longer term, we will explore other potential options for its location.

Also discussed, we are working with our Yarra Park Operations manager to ensure the cabmans’ shelter is constantly maintained.

Kind Regards”

I had placed before a senior executive a submission on 7th March and as at 10th May had not received even an acknowledgment. A further e mail on 21st May resulted – finally- in e mail dated 31st May from the executive assistant of one of the 2 gents in part read:

'As mentioned in our previous correspondence, we agree that the shelter is an important heritage item and are currently looking at measures to make it safer in its current location.'

On Thursday 5th July I stopped by the shelter and took some more images – and was shocked at the very tardy way the shelter, 'is constantly maintained'. I was also 'disappointed' that the promised, 'measures to make it safer in its current location' had clearly failed.

I acknowledge that the 2 gentlemen with whom I had a meeting are not the ones to go armed with paint brush and tin of paint to obliterate the graffiti. That is the job of the Yarra Park Operations department (under the control of the MCC) who have failed in their job.

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Incorrect information - should read Carpentaria Place

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Making a mess of the MCC logo and not repaired

In my first submission I pointed out that the information shard outside the Cabman's Shelter is wrong. Above is 2 images of that shard and you will see that the shelter was located in Parliament Place – even that has not been corrected – in spite of a letter dated 27th February 2018, which in part read:

'However we do agree that we could do more to enhance the knowledge of visitors to the Ground regarding the history of the shelter and its 'cultural significance'. Therefore we will be looking to do some signage/site interpretation near the shelter, and we will keep you informed of our progress.'

Great words from someone within an organisation that has hosted huge sporting and entertainment events over the 153 years they have been at their current location, yet can't correct an information shard in a reasonable time!

Although I am a mere once a week volunteer at the sports museum at the MCG, I do feel that I have been treated in a very off-hand manner – yes I do know my place, but still the utterances to us 'vollies' gives the hope that we are valued. Maybe that is just lip service.

I am also 'disappointed', judging from e mail correspondence, that, 'you must not post anything that may have the potential to damage the MCC or any of its employee’s reputation' yet, 'it is OK to express your own personal views'. Seems reputations are more important than preserving the very heritage that the MCC has taken on.

There are other options that I will explore in future blogs - and provide more information on this and 2 other shelters as well as some fascinating images from the past.

Posted by SirGaw 05:38 Comments (0)

GUARDIAN ANGEL @ The G

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Just a short blog and really only the above crazy image.

The shelter needs a guardian angel (GA) and at this stage, I'm it. She carries an evil looking trident that is all ready and waiting to help protect the shelter from more harm.

WARNING - DON'T MESS WITH THE GA

Posted by SirGaw 04:02 Comments (0)

SOME HORSE DRAWN SHELTER AND CAB HISTORY

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From 'The Weekly Times' of Saturday 21st February 1903

It is all very well and good for me to be critical of the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) and their mistreatment of the Cabman's Shelter. However I believe it is time to present some of the fascinating material and images of the horse drawn cabs.

Sadly unsigned or dated is a one page part of a document that someone has penned. If by chance the author is identified, I'll gladly credit him or her.

" Horse drawn cabs were introduced to Melbourne in the late 1840's and by 1849 Collins and Bourke Streets had established cab ranks. At first cabmen drew their vehicles to the kerbside and touted for passengers. As this caused much confusion with pedestrian traffic, the Council (Melbourne City Council) passed a by-law in 1858 compelling cabmen to take their 'stand' in the centre of the roadway. It is thus that they appear in photographs of Melbourne streets in the 1860's.

During this period cab services were generally unsatisfactory and competition for passengers was fierce. Cabmen were rough and often quarrelled with each other and their passengers. Soon, attempts at organisation were made and cab owners and drivers co-operated with local councils to provide proper services that ran to timetables.

Eventually timekeepers were employed and they controlled and dispatched cabs and omnibuses from hexagonal shelters in Bourke St at both the Swanston and Elizabeth Street intersections. With the introduction of cable tramways in the late 1880's, these two shelters and many of the centre-of-the-road cab ranks were displaced.

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Image of time keepers shelter with GPO under construction

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Cab rank in middle of Swanston Street with Melbourne Town Hall clearly visible. Both images from the wonderful Facebook page, 'Old Time Photos Of Yesteryear'

Lets call it 'our' shelter – the one located along Brunton Ave that I'm trying to save from further damage. The Argus of Saturday 9th October 1897 published a letter to The Editor from L.L.Lewis, President of the Cabmen's Union:

Sir, -I shall be thankful if you will permit me through the columns of your journal to make it known that, through the generosity of a well known Melbourne resident, whose name, for the present at any rate is withheld, funds will be provided to erect the first Cabmen's Shelter in this city. I have to-day made known the fact to the town clerk of Melbourne, and have asked him to obtain, at as early a date as possible, the necessary permission to place this shelter on the rank in Parliament place, and as soon as this is granted the building will be commenced.

I take this the earliest opportunity of publicly thanking the generous donor, and trusting that you will find space for the above, - I am, &c.,

I understand the well-known resident was a MP. Sadly Mr Lewis got it wrong – like the MCC have done – by stating the shelter will be sited in Parliament Place.

From all accounts, Thursday 24th February 1898 was an important date on the cabbie calendar. 'The Age' reported:

'SHELTER FOR CABMEN - OPENING OF A MELBOURNE SHED'

The provision of shelter sheds for cabmen while waiting on the ranks has been engaging the attention of a number of gentlemen for some time, Mr. L. L. Lewis, of Melbourne, taking a prominent part. During the past few weeks, plans wore drawn up by Nahum Barnet, architect, and funds were provided by the free gift of an anonymous donor; for the construction of a shelter shed in the vicinity of the cab rank near Parliament House.

Considering its handsome structure the term "shed" seems an anomaly in nomenclature when applied to the shelter erected, which is in the style of a light, airy pavilion. It is the first cab shelter provided in Melbourne, and the committee formed to provide shelters all around the metropolis anticipate the erection of others at no distant date.

The ceremony of opening the shelter was performed, in the presence of large assemblage, including city councilors and other prominent citizens, yesterday, when the Mayor of Melbourne (Sir Malcolm McEacharn) declared the shelter ready for use. He congratulated the rank on now having a place to eat and drink in without being compelled to go to hotels or to feed in their cabs. He hoped to see the shelters rapidly multiplied, and so moved a vote of thanks to tho anonymous donor of the first shelter erected. The motion was carried with cheers. Mr. L. L. Lewis said he did not want it to be thought of as the donor, because this was not the first shelter, which was erected in London in 1875 was a gift, as in this case, the gift of a member of Parliament.

There were now 40 shelters in London, accommodating 3500 cabmen, and there was a fund, provided mostly by subscription, for the maintenance of them. He has asked a number of gentlemen to contribute to a similar fund here, and was glad to say had it met with favorable replies. He wished to publicly thank the donor of this the first shelter in Melbourne. (Cheers.) Mr. John Macguire (a cabman) said that he had been requested by his fellow, drivers to thank the mayor for attending in his official capacity to declare the shelter open.

The cab-men of London comprised men of excellent character, as evidenced by remarks made by the Prince of Wales (??), and the Melbourne cab men also comprised men of excellent character. (Hear, hear.) There were shadows over the great city, however, and one of them was that in using the shelter, they would be rendering themselves liable to prosecution by the police for being away from their cabs. (Laughter.)

It was the same at tho wharf, where drivers had to go away from their cabs to get something to eat. The police, however, generally performed their duty with intelligence, and did not persecute them. (Applause.) The cab men wished the Mayor and all who had contributed to the shelter every prosperity. (Cheers.) The Mayor, in responding, said that although a citizen might feel savage sometimes when asked to pay, say 4s.(shillings), when the legitimate fare was only half a crown (2 shillings and 6 pence), still he believed the public did not grudge the drivers any little extras when they were fairly payable. (Cheers.) Some light refreshments provided in the shelter were partaken of, and the company separated.

Interesting that some of the regulations hinted at (leaving cab unattended on a rank) are still in force today – as this writer knows having been booked while going to the toilet at the airport and when having to go to hospital to get a foreign body removed from eye – in both cases successfully appealed.

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The Argus on Saturday 5th March 1898 published a photo (drawing??) of the shelter

'Our' shelter was the first of about 40 in Melbourne city and suburbs and in many of the country centres in Victoria. Apart from 'our' shelter 2 also survive and are located in South Yarra and Geelong (to be covered in a future blog)

From the excellent resource of TROVE is a entire page of images of cabman's shelters from 'The Weekly Times' of Saturday 21st February 1903 and titled 'A GOOD WORK DONE FOR CABBY'. Sadly the quality of some of the images cannot be reproduced.

I have been able to document from various Melbourne newspaper articles the following locations of cabmens shelters:

Group from above article 'A GOOD WORK DONE FOR CABBY'
Carpentaria Place, Melbourne City
Glenferri Road, Hawthorn
Elsternwick
Shelter at Kew (Railway Station?? - yes Kew did have a rail line terminating in Denmark Street)
The Punt Road Shelter, South Yarra
St Kilda (betting that was in Fitzroy Street near railway station)
Hawthorn Shelter
South Yarra Railway Station
Hawksburn (Railway Station??)
Malvern (Railway Station??)
Windsor Shelter (Railway Station??)

Additional locations from other Melbourne newspapers:
Brunswick
Sandringham
Brighton x 2
Box Hill
Lennox Street, Richmond (kind benefactor left 50 Pounds in will for construction)
Fitzroy
City – unable to ascertain any shelter locations, but suspect one at Spencer Street Station
Errol Street, North Melbourne
North Carlton
Auburn (under the railway bridge on Auburn Road - photo but too blury to share)

Gives a total of 22 documented shelter locations. I would be grateful for any additional information, images – anything that has a cab shelter reference.

Perhaps one of the strangest tales of cabman's shelters comes from a snippet published in many newspapers at the time, including the Kerang (Victoria) New Times on Tuesday 5th December 1905:

Young Way-back, on his first visit to the city, caused much amusement the other day by entering a cabby's shelter in Melbourne and seating himself within. The Jehus (??) looked at the intruder And asked him what he did there. "Waitln' 'for her to start," said he, laconically. "What she?" "This yere tramcar, coorse, stoopld," said the innocent hay seeder. He had mistaken the cosy shelter for the trams, of which he had seen pictures, but never experienced. He was with difficulty persuaded of his mistake.

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Postcard of a cable car (tram) and an image from 'The Weekly Times' of Saturday 21st February 1903 of the cabman's shelter in Kew. The mistake of that 'young way-back' could almost be the making of a 'Should have gone to SpecSavers' advertisement.

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In taking on the might of the MCC, this writer could almost be The Mouse That Roared!(book cover and the title was a very funny Peter Sellers film of the same name)


Posted by SirGaw 18:32 Comments (1)

SOUTH YARRA AND GEELONG CABMAN'S SHELTERS

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South Yarra Cabman's Shelter

We (The MCC Cabman's Shelter) are not alone. Of the 40 or so in and around Melbourne one other survives and in regional Victoria another survives. There may be others and I would be grateful for ANY further information.

SOUTH YARRA

Firstly I am indebted to Mr Philippe Batters CEA (REIV) who has so generously supplied me with amazing history of the South Yarra Cabman's Shelter, now restored (above image) and situated at the Rear of Christ Church, Corner of Punt and Toorak Roads, South Yarra. I am also indebted to many others for saving the shelter and having it 'brought back home' and restored to its former glory – sincere thanks to you all.

In 1901 the second Vicar of the Church – Horace Finn Tucker – prevailed upon the congregation of the church 'to contribute the sum of forty-eight pounds for the erection of a shelter on the Church grounds, adjacent to the road, “where the cabmen could rest out of the cold and heat while waiting for their fares.”

It would seem there was much controversy over the proposal and some of the congregation were aghast at the prospect of cabmen sharing the grounds of the Church. According' to 'South Yarra Churchmen' of July 1901, they were reminded that, [i]'A principle is involved: The Church was “made for man” - of every sort – not man for the Church.' Further, 'No gambling or improper practices, such as having been complained of elsewhere, will be permitted.' The cabmen seem to be almost regarded by some as lepers (as this writer can attest – LOL) – 'that the front (of the shelter) will stand flush with the footpath and extend only seven feet (a little over 2 metres) within the hedge; that no exit to or view of the church grounds will be available from the lodge.' More evidence, perhaps, that cab drivers, as today, are treated as second class citizens.

Seems a letter was sent to the office of the Bishop during the month of June 1901, 'which stressed dire consequences resulting from the alienation of Church property, including the creation of general nuisance.' (I wonder if that objector was also an MCC member – LOL) The objections were discussed at a meeting of the Vestry and approval was given for the erection of the Cabmen's Shelter.

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'The Weekly Times' of Saturday 21st February 1903 of the cabman's shelter in Punt Road, South Yarra

Over time the shelters use had, 'outlived its usefulness, was dismantled and removed on 10th November 1926. The contractor having undertaken to do this without charge and to replace the fence, in return for his retention of all the materials.'

A little conspiracy theory here – the slate roof would have commanded a high price and was replaced by a congregated iron roof. The shelter was relocated (maybe sold – another conspiracy theory perhaps) to nearby Millswyn Street where for 70 years it served as a child's playhouse and, presumably later, a garden shed.

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Around 1998, the shelter, 'was in poor condition when rescued,' according to Mr Philippe Batters. He added that they were not told of the costs, however a newspaper article states the shelter received a $10,000 face lift from Heritage Victoria. The shelter was returned to the ground of Christ Church where it now serves as a gardeners shed. The then Victorian Heritage Council chairwoman, Catherine Heggen said the structure was, 'a Small jewel and it's important we conserve this part of Melbourne's history, not least as a tribute to the man who designed it – English born architect, Frank Stapley, who went on to become one of this cities most influential planners.'

A strange twist – the patron saint for both gardeners and cab drivers is the same Saint Fiacre. For more information please visit (in French) Saint Fiacre where, depending on your browser, you receive an automatic offer to translate the page to English.

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GEELONG

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Image from the internet

Informative panel within the shelter reads:

'On the 16th December 1905, the Mayor of Geelong, Cr. T.E. Bostock, officially opened the new Shelter in Malop Street opposite Jacobs Street.

It had been recognised that in serving the public day and night, the cabmen were exposed to all sorts of weather and they should be provided with a shelter, as was the case in all the large centres of population.

When trams came to Geelong in 1912, the Cabmen's Shelter became redundant and was moved to Eastern Park near Malop Street entrance.'

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Image from the internet

'It was placed in the present location in the Botanical Gardens in 1988 where it continued to deteriorate. The restoration project was initiated in 1996 when the Friends of Geelong Botanic Gardens received a grant from Parks Victoria. The City of Greater Geelong completed the restoration of the shelter in March 1998.”

Today the structure provides a shelter within the Geelong Botanic Gardens. For those intending to book a wedding or other event, a web site answers: “What happens if it rains? As the Gardens do not have a large undercover area you will need to have an alternative venue arranged. If you are concerned about rain then you should consider booking the Bunya Lawn as it has a Cabman’s Shelter which could shelter the bridal party.”

Originally intending cab passengers needed to walk to the nearest cab rank to engage the driver and his cab. The passengers could hail a cab in the street. The early days of radio taxi, as today, can be traced back to the introduction of the telephone. Imagine the luxury of picking up the phone and ringing the rank for a hansom cab to pick you up?

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From; Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 10 February 1906, page 3

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A number of newspaper reports in the era of the cabman's shelters suggest there was considerable animosity between those who paid a subscription to use the shelters and those who did not – and seemed to be centered around the use, or otherwise, of the then newly installed telephones. The Melbourne City Council 'took over' the management of the shelters to overcome the many heated disputes. (Like the Taxi vs Uber disputes of today!!!)

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The Guardian Angel in the third blog has teamed up with Saint Fiacre – the cabbies Patron Saint, BE PREPARED to be inspired!!!!

Posted by SirGaw 07:41 Comments (0)

CONCLUSION – AND (HOPEFULLY) A NEW BEGINNING FOR THE SHELTER

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A Melbourne city street 1910 and a cabbie catches up on the news while waiting for his next fare

So far it has been a bumpy ride through just some of the fascinating history of a small slice of our past – and yes I have made some mistakes and trodden on a few toes. One mistake was the next image – and when I first saw this I got quite excited. The caption from the Adelaide, South Australia, library quoted Cabman's Shelter in a Melbourne Street.

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A call for more information on a great Facebook page - Old Time Photos Of Yesteryear and the truth came out from a learned gentleman – 'there is a Melbourne Street in North Adelaide.' Sadly neither the South Australian library or museum could shed any more light on the great image.

Several more images came to light and again my pulse rate increased in anticipation of, 'The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.'

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Investigations reveal image 1 is a group of German cab drivers enjoying a card game. Second image is 2 English cabbies and the man who provided their food

A NEW BEGINNING??

Many years ago there was a competition hosted by the Victorian Taxi Association and promoted in 'Taxi Talk,' the long-running industry publication. The prize was a $100 voucher to enjoy at an eatery in a major entertainment complex (no names mentioned). I happened to be the first through and the prize was mine. Sandra – my wife – and I enjoyed a night out, but did find it difficult to 'spend' the $100. We choose a magnificent looking seafood platter for 2 – really far too much hot and cold seafood, chips and various condiments but we did manage to almost finish the meal. For the next 3 days I was unable to work owing to food poisoning, Sandra fared a little better. The competition was to identify from the obscure clue the very cabmans shelter I am now trying to have preserved. With all that 'off work and therefore no pay,' in reality I should hate the structure and not, as I have done, embrace and protect it.

I would really like the opportunity to address the Committee of the Melbourne Cricket Club and plead the case for the shelter – I doubt that will happen as I am 'just' a once a week volunteer to the National Sports Museum (NSM) and, not even a member of that organisation. I do know my place!!

When I do my shift at the amazing NSM, I am surrounded by sporting memorabilia and some date back to the 1700's. There are over 100,000 items on display and in storage and ALL are correctly protected. Seems a contradiction that the oldest structure on Yarra Park – the 1898 cabmans shelter – is not likewise afforded the same protection as the museum items.

I ask instead that, you the committee, consider the following and then vote as you see fit on the very future of the little shelter so badly neglected and rotting away along Brunton Avenue.

I have been told in writing that the shelter is to stay where it is. I've been told that security will be increased – that was in February and that has not happened – the recent graffiti attack is proof enough. I was told in a letter that 'we will be looking to do some signage/interpretation near the shelter' another promise not fulfilled. 31st May in an e mail, 'We agree that the shelter is an important heritage item and are currently looking at measures to make it safer in its current location.' The only way to make it safer in its current location would be total and very expensive 24/7 security – I know that just won't happen. To continue to allow the heritage listed shelter to be used 'for operational purposes' is nothing short of a disgrace and the MCC collectively should hang their heads in shame. Just who would honestly believe the shelter is used to store parking signs and witches hats??

If you, the MCC committee, can unequivocally guarantee that NO HARM by any means, natural or man made will EVER come to the shelter, then I'd be happy to drop my campaign. You would not be able to give any such assurances as they would be totally outside the control of the MCC!

I have been told placing the shelter inside at Gate 3 would not 'fit in.' With all due respect if that is the thought patterns of some, then the amazing knowledge 'boys and girls' tour guides wearing their blazers reminiscent of a by-gone era do not 'fit in.' - both the blazers and cabmans shelter are of the same era. If one does not 'fit in' then neither do the blazers and who in the right mind would even suggest the Tour Guides divest themselves of their 'blazers of knowledge'. There would, correctly, be a riot.

There is another side to the 'won't fit in'. The MCG is a sporting arena of justifiably world-wide fame - and I will not even try and enumerate the achievements stretching back to 1852. Perhaps the 'won't fit in' relates to the structure being a relic of the taxi trade and not sports related. On the surface, a fair argument, however I should point out that taxis are needed throughout everyone's lives - from the rushing to a hospital with a woman in labour, to the weeping relatives returning from funerals AND visits to The MCG too. After 26 years as a taxi owner and driver with a few notches on the belt, I can very easily prove a taxi related link to all forms of human endeavour. Have you got several weeks to listen to the stories?

Several telephone conversations and I have been told of the passion in my voice – yes there is a passion, I just don't want OUR small building under the threat it is now.

You, the MCC committee, really have 2 choices – keeping the shelter in its current location is not an option based on demonstrable history outlined above. You have failed miserably in your 'duty of care'.

OPTION ONE

Give it away to an organisation who can restore and preserve the structure. I do have some ideas for possible re-location, but would prefer to keep these ideas to myself – for the time being. I would much rather see the MCC retain and re-brand the structure.

OPTION TWO

Currently there are many people at work who are planning for the creation of the National Sports Museum version 2.0. The museum is scheduled to close for 6 months from August 2019. It would be an ideal opportunity to re-vamp the entrance to the ground level entrance to the museum, ticket box, tour meeting and departure point AND incorporate the shelter fully restored – including slate roof as per original within that area of Gate 3. You would have one year to have the shelter fully restored and by approaching Heritage Victoria and their restoration fund this restoration could be at minimal cost to the MCC – you would need however a new shelter for 'operational purposes' along Brunton Avenue.

The shelter firstly in the short term and after restoration:

You are in danger of losing many of the NSM volunteers while the museum is closed. Yes there will be some natural attrition, but many other volunteers may do something else with their whatever-day and over a short time you loose some of your volunteers to alternatives – many organisations are crying out for vollies and NSM volunteers could be a much sought after. Give limited places to volunteers to man that small shelter, which for the 6 months the NSM is closed is used as a free-to-entry very small NSM with a few well-chosen highlights from the excellent museum. You'll still need NSM vollies for the cloaks, keep a few more each day maybe on a rotation basis.

For the longer term you could do one of more of the following (after NSM re-opens) in the re-branded 'Shelter of Knowledge':

Tours meeting and departure/arrival point – give your amazing guides a heritage-listed work place.

Information source for visitors – maps, brochures etc that are currently sited outside the volunteer office.

Small taxi related museum – there is an amazing array of material available.

Even a photo studio where visitors can pose in front of a 'green-cloth' and digitally be superimposed on the MCG with the scoreboard showing a choice of end of match results - football and cricket.

The shelter can 'fit in' within Gate 3. That is the job of architects and designers to come up with ways to make things 'fit in.' Below is a photoshopped idea of the shelter fully restored, with a gray-scale backdrop of The Windsor hotel and placed within Gate 3.

It was in one cold August night in 2006 that a well known member of the current MCC Committee stood with cab drivers in a protest over the unfortunate death of one their number. He and I stood up for the legion of Melbourne cab drivers – I hope that was not a political grab for publicity! I ask him, and you the committee, to stand up and be counted to prevent the 'death' of the cabman's shelter AND preserve the very heritage you are entrusted with. Make it happen and do so now PLEASE.

For those who have read this blog and you support what I am asking the MCC to do, can I please request that you contact the MCC and ask that they SAVE THE SHELTER THANK YOU!!!!

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Posted by SirGaw 05:25 Comments (0)

NO WAY TO TREAT AN OLD 'LADY'

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I was quite shocked on Wednesday 8th August 2018 to see that Yarra Park ground staff (assuming under the control of the MCC) propped a set of grimy posts against the wall of the cabman's shelter. Also look at the condition of the door and doorframe - such a shame and after 7 months of badgering. Additionally, the VERY bad job of obliterating graffiti is still there, photographed on 5th July AND reported to authorities in person several days later.

It is over a month since my last blog entry and as they say in the classics, I've got good news and bad.

THE GOOD NEWS

The editor of the monthly magazine "DRIVEA2B" has been very generous and featured the Cabman's Shelter as a front page and an article - thank you very much Toni (image below). The 2-page article (pages 16/17) can be read online at https://www.yumpu.com/en/document/view/61679316/drive-a2b-august-2018

I have appended in date order e mail correspondence with an executive within Melbourne Cricket Club. As per previous, names have been deleted. To cut to the chase, the good news part is that the club has agreed:

"Please note that as well as the ongoing maintenance of the cabman shelter we will be improving the interpretation signage around the shelter as well as relocating the equipment inside the shelter.

As previously communicated, the potential location of the shelter will be worked through with Heritage Victoria in conjunction with the overall Yarra Park masterplan."

As you'll see in the e mails, the writer spent more writing energy on giving me a stern rebuke for a comment on worms, than the matter of the shelter.

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THE BAD NEWS

In spite of many attempts to convince the MCC to the contrary, they are not prepared to have the shelter moved to within the suggested Gate 3 area and become a centrepiece. I have been told on a number of occasions that the shelter will stay in its current location for the medium to longer term. Internet research indicates 'medium to long-term' is 5 to 10 years. As you'll read in the length e mails below there are just too many hazards.

Any potential move to a 'safe' location would need the approval of Heritage Victoria. I understand an application must be forwarded to them, however, this all begs the question, 'Who really owns that cabmans's shelter?'

Initially, I contacted the Melbourne City Council and in an e mail dated 20th July, it was suggested they could not assist and I was referred to the Land Titles Office. The structure is sited on Crown Land and as such, the Land Titles Office could not assist - frustrating!! In turn I was directed to the Crown Lands Department. As everyone seemed to be ducking for cover, a contact at Heritage Victoria suggested I should complete a Freedom Of Information request - cost $28.90. Result as below - the owner of the structure is none other than the Melbourne City Council - image below.

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TRANSPORT MUSEUM FOR VICTORIA

After some thought I decided that to house and maintain the cabman's shelter, it should be placed in a museum. Some internet and Facebook 'sniffing around' and I discovered a group that is trying to re-house the magnificent Cavalcade of Transport that is currently located on the back wall of the Spencer Outlet Centre. The mural is on show but partly hidden by airconditioning ducts and light fittings. To view the mural means a trip through the 4 factory outlets - Cotton On, Kaisercraft, Chemist Warehouse and Harris Scarf. Best views are from Cotton On and Harris Scarf. The visual location of the magnificent mural is almost an insult to the former Victorian State Artist, Harold Freedman. The Facebook page can be located at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/cavalcadeoftransportrescuegroup/

After some discussions with the page owner, we jointly decided that a new home for both 'his' Cavalcade of Transport mural and 'my' Cabman's Shelter. Further discussions and the idea of a Transport Museum for Victoria was born.

As such a Facebook page has been established - https://www.facebook.com/groups/286823971883270/ - and you are more than welcome to join. Within that Facebook page is on file a letter to the Executive Director of MUSEUMS AUSTRALIA (VICTORIA). After an 'It's been 3 weeks and I haven't heard back from you' telephone call, I was told by the director that I needed to contact Museums Victoria - all seems strange seeing that all the Victorian major museums are shown on the Museums Australia website. I've also tried to touch base with Ms Heide Victoria MP and Shadow Minister for Arts & Culture. Being an election year I would have thought the idea of a large number of train, tram, bus etc, etc 'nuts' voting for a party that makes a great promise of a Transport Museum for the state would have appealed. Seems not. I wonder if other political parties might be interested.

Museums Victoria has over 15,000 transport related items within their collection - a really great start for a Transport Museum. Lets add the cabman's shelter, the Cavalcade of Transport mural (it is huge - half the length of a football oval), the recent 'past its use-by date' Colonial Tramcar Restaurant in storage at Newport and selected items from other sources and we have the makings of a Transport Museum to rival the current best in the world. We can do this, takes guts, determination, a can-do attitude and of course money, lots of money.

We at Transport Museum for Victoria need the support of ALL those in the various sections of the transport industry present and those keeping the past as safe as they can. Please join us.

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Cavalcade of Transport mural as seen from the retail store 'Cotton On'

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Copy of e mails from myself to the MCC and answers. Names, email addresses and any other identifying material have been deleted. A close read of the e mails shows that a number of questions were not answered or simply ignored

Sent:
Tues, 31 Jul 2018 15:21:41 +1000
Subject:
RE: A tale of 2 pieces of infrastructure controlled by the MCC

Hi Deleted

Maybe the below should be on the list as #5

Thanks

David Gawthorn

RUMOUR FILE CONFIRMED (3AW)

A man who took a forklift for a spin post-match at the MCG on Saturday is expected to be charged after an off-duty police officer intercepted the joyride.

During the Rumour File, Ross and John were told a footy patron stole a forklift from the stadium basement on Saturday after a match but was intercepted by an off duty senior policeman.

Police have confirmed a man was arrested after a forklift was allegedly stolen from the underground car park of a Melbourne sporting ground on Saturday.

Police responded when calls came in reporting it was being driven down the Brunton Avenue footpath shortly before 6pm.

A 39-year-old man from Drouin West was arrested shortly after and is expected to be charged on summons with theft of motor vehicle, conduct endangering life and drink driving offences.

Sent:
Sat, 28 Jul 2018 15:21:41 +1000
Subject:
RE: A tale of 2 pieces of infrastructure controlled by the MCC

Hi Deleted and please note there are no other recipients to this e mail,

First up MANY thanks for your e mail. In 2 short paras you have given me more hope that matters will improve than at any time since this campaign started - 3rd Jan 2018 (it would have been earlier but the festive season got in the way). THANK YOU.

I'm sorry I have trod on toes and acted far beyond my status (worm - LOL) at the MCG. I did so for a cause and perhaps at times I've been blinded by that cause - can we now please move forward.

I would believe that my greatest fear has not been addressed - and that is the safety of the structure.

1. I have previously mentioned acts of vandalism, which I see as the greatest threat. A simple Google of - vandalism, melbourne - resulted in over 1 million results. I'm sure there is a clear link between graffiti and vandalism. We've seen 3 graffiti attacks since I started up this campaign - and I do think we've been lucky given the almost isolated location of the structure. Sports fans are becoming more and more unruly - as I'm sure you'd know given your position at The G. Hark back to Richmond winning the AFL flag last year and please do some research on acts of drunken hysterical vandalism that occurred around 'party central Swan Street.' I could continue on this, but I do hope you can see the obvious threats.

2. Trees - the structure is located within a park. There are at least 3 biggish gum trees within easy branch falling range and a further 5 or 6 with a strong wind could cause substantial damage. Gum trees are notorious for dropping heavy limbs without warning. I'm not suggesting trees should be removed, but rather the structure.

3. Mother nature herself can cause all sorts of damage - hail, strong winds, very heavy rain.

4. A lesser threat is from out of control vehicles damaging the structure. We constantly see TV news footage of stolen vehicles smashing into houses.

I really do think that you and others should conduct your own risk assessment and then act accordingly. The cabman's shelter HAS to be moved to a secure indoor location. As indicated in my previous e mail, along with others, we are putting pressure to bear for the establishment of a Transport Museum for Victoria. I would hope that you and the building owner (assuming Melb City Council) would readily agree to release the structure to a Transport Museum where it can play an important part (with Heritage Vic approval).

You have mentioned the removal of equipment currently inside the shelter. May I please ask if you have any tentative plans for the interior?

Finally Deleted - as you are aware from our meeting, I do have a hearing issue. It is possible that I misheard the comment re the worms. I do have the utmost respect for ALL the staffers I am in regular contact with. I can send you copies of the THREE submissions I have made re the shelter. I have only received a written reply to ONE. If you get a chance in the next few Wednesdays maybe a short informal off the record chat might clear the air - maybe the worms can turn - LOL

Thanks again,

David Gawthorn

Fri, 27 Jul 2018 06:53:16 +0000
Subject:
RE: A tale of 2 pieces of infrastructure controlled by the MCC

Dear David,

Please note that as well as the ongoing maintenance of the cabman shelter we will be improving the interpretation signage around the shelter as well as relocating the equipment inside the shelter.

As previously communicated, the potential location of the shelter will be worked through with Heritage Victoria in conjunction with the overall Yarra Park masterplan.

David, with regards to your comment about a volunteers observation that “perhaps the worms working away under the sacred turf of the MCG are held in higher regard by the MCC than the volunteers”, I find this to be in bad taste and very disrespectful to the staff that manage our volunteer workforce.

Staff and management are always willing to meet and discuss issues with our volunteers (as per our willingness to discuss your concerns face to face). There may be times when volunteers and management may have different views on how certain things may operate, we are always willing to understand and address concerns and I would like to think people are mature enough to appreciate any difference of opinion and not make inappropriate and disrespectful comments as per what you have stated.

You can pass onto any colleague that if anyone has concerns about how they are being treated to go via the appropriate channels so their concerns can be addressed.

Regards

Sent: Thursday, 26 July 2018 1:26 AM

Subject: RE: A tale of 2 pieces of infrastructure controlled by the MCC

Good morning Deleted,

Thank you for your e mail.

It is quite ironic that on my Wednesday shift I noticed a memo to guides regarding damage to the frame of a painting in, of all places, The Long Room. I was under the impression that only gentlemen were admitted to almost the holiest of places on Earth, perhaps only exceeded by The Vatican!!!

Now if, as I've been led to believe, there was willful damage to the frame of a very important piece of cricket history in the Long Room, an area where only gentlemen and women are seen, then OUR heritage listed Cabman's Shelter would be under far more threat from those who would not be considered gentlemen. In spite of Deleted stating that he sees no threat to that little building, then, with respect, this should be a wake up call to ALL items under the control of the Melb Cricket Club.

Deleted, you have mentioned that the MCC is in 'discussions' with Heritage Victoria. I have read a little of the Heritage Act (2017) and have learnt that the club could be issued with a repair order on the heritage listed shelter. Failure to comply carries a penalty of 4,800 penalty units. Currently (from 1st July 2018) a penalty unit is $161.19 x 4,800 = $773,712. Is this the 'discussions' you mentioned?

Judging from the complete lack of replies from all in the mentioned in the 'To' of this e mail (except yourself), I am getting the distinct impression that most would prefer the matter of the shelter would just go away - is this correct please? If this is my interpretation, then perhaps a new home should be found for the shelter - and not in the medium to longer term (5 - 10 years??)? If this is also correct would you and the club consent to allowing (with Heritage Vic approval) the shelter be re-located to a safe indoor location? If so then I do have a possible short term home for the structure where I know it will be better managed than the past - are you interested?

Along with others, I am pressuring various parties into establishing a Transport Museum for Victoria where, I would sincerely hope, 'our' cabman's shelter could play an important part.

Could you please discuss the contents of this e mail with others and reply in the near future.

Thank you in anticipation,

Best wishes,

David Gawthorn

PS A little discussion revolved around a comment made in 'the dungeon' (the NSM) when a volunteer made the observation that perhaps the worms working away under the sacred turf of the MCG are held in higher regard by the MCC than the volunteers. I'd be interested to hear any replies so I can pass on to my colleagues.

Mon, 23 Jul 2018 04:22:10 +0000

RE: A tale of 2 pieces of infrastructure controlled by the MCC

Hi David,

Thank you for your email.

We are currently in discussions with Heritage Victoria regarding the Cabman’s Shelter and its ongoing maintenance, however as communicated to you previously, the cabmans’ shelter will remain in its current location for the time being, however as part of revising the Yarra Park Masterplan in the medium-longer term, we will explore other potential options for its location.

Kind Regards



A tale of 2 pieces of infrastructure controlled by the MCC
Sent: Thursday, 12 July 2018 10:13 PM

Good morning deleted,

I do hope you are all in fine health in spite of the dreary weather.

On Wednesday I did my normal shift at the amazing NSM. On the way to and from the muster room I could not help but notice the hive of activity on the MCG ground. All hands on deck to make sure the turf was as good as it can be. There were the huge grow lamps churning out energy for that turf and there was even a turf protector installed to allow a tractor to go to the centre pitch area for work to be done - all very impressive and of course under the banner of the MCC.

Less than 300 metres away sat a poor shadow of itself - the Cabman's Shelter. Neglected, paint peeling, graffiti visible through several woeful attempts at painting over, cob webs, grime et al - and also under the banner of the MCC - well the partly obliterated MCC logo on the shard tells me it seems to belong to the same organisation as the world-famous MCG.

Last Friday 6th July I had a 20 minute telephone conversation with a very senior person within the MCC. I briefly outlined my concerns over the plight of the Cabman's Shelter. I told him that I had submitted an article for a monthly magazine and hope that it is published around the !st August. I also told him of a blog that, at the time, was only 2 parts. He seemed quite sympathetic to my cause.

Last Sunday, 8th July, I published the last of the 6 pages of the blog and then went about promoting its existence on social media. At the time of writing this e mail to you all that blog has attracted 13,064 page views. It has also been shared a number of times. I have received very positive comments from a variety of people who did not know of the shelter under your stewardship. That blog can be read at https://cabmansshelter.travellerspoint.com/ although I am confident you would have been alerted to it.

In an e mail from Deleted I was advised (warned would be a better word):

"As communicated to you yesterday regarding the MCC’s code of conduct, although it is OK to express your own personal views, you must not post anything that may have the potential to damage the MCC or any of its employee’s reputation."

When you read the blog you will see that I have not named names, but I have expressed my own personal views.

Can I please ask that each and every one of you go for a short walk and get up close and view that little shelter. See for yourselves just how bad the condition is and see how anyone viewing same would come to the conclusion as I have that it might 'damage the MCC's reputation.'

Can I also please ask that you read the blog and in particular the last page.

I have been in contact with Heritage Victoria and understand you (the MCC) would need to obtain a permit to move the shelter. I am suggesting this be done as a matter of urgency and in the interim the shelter is placed in safe storage and perhaps even work begun on the restoration of the structure. The 'where will it go' decision can be deferred. As I wrote in the last page of the blog, leaving the shelter where it is, is not an option.

PLEASE do not let that shelter come to any harm. It is in danger from a variety of sources. I don't want to go fully public on the issue as the very publicity generated might attract the wrong element to the structure - but will do so, with reluctance, if I feel it is necessary.

I now await your responses AND, more importantly, ACTIONS.

Thank you in anticipation,

David Gawthorn

Posted by SirGaw 07:17 Comments (0)

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