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Goodbye Melbourne Town
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Goodbye Melbourne Town

Eric Thake was fascinated by the life of cities, and especially his city Melbourne. The way in which particular shops, markets, streets and theatres could shape the mental landscape of a city dweller, only to be completely obliterated in passing years, was a theme which preoccupied him.

He did not, however, view this process with an impartial eye. When the Eastern Market, which had been a kind of dream palace for Thake since boyhood, was marked for demolition in 1960, he and a group of like-minded friends set about lovingly documenting its empty halls and shabby, deserted stalls.

Published in 1965, Goodbye Melbourne Town offers a glimpse of a part of Melbourne lost to demolition and 'progress'. It contains recollections by Thake and some of his friends as well as his own photographs and those taken by David Corke, Geoffrey Ogilby and Bert Rodda.

The Eastern Market

Opened in 1879 on the corner of Exhibition & Bourke Streets, the Eastern Market was intended to be the city's principal fresh produce market, but it had been anticipated by the newly opened Queen Victoria Market, which quickly took over this role. The Eastern Market lived on as a flower market, and as a rendezvous for the city's workers, promenaders and curiosity seekers. However, as Melbourne acquired more sophisticated amusements it was eclipsed in this role as well.

Into its terminal decline in the 1950s, the Eastern Market retained a distinct flavour of sideshow raffishness - fortune tellers, test-your-strength machines, electric-shock therapists, tattoo artists, taxidermists and bric-a-brac dealers were among the last ghosts to desert it. For Thake it had the supreme charm of being the place where, in 1947, his keen eye spotted an original Arthur Streeton seascape amidst the litter of a secondhand dealer, which he bought for one pound.

Goodbye Melbourne Town Album

 
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