This Week in Port Phillip 1841: 24 to 28 February 1841

There were complaints about the muddy state of Elizabeth Street right from the start.

During the past week we have received several communications from our fellow townsmen relative to street nuisances which at the present time, when disease and death are enacting their part among our population, would be too flagrant for us to leave unnoticed. We might refer to several which our attention has been drawn to, but we will confine ourselves to some which have come under our own immediate notice. In the principle thoroughfare of Melbourne (Collins Street) close to the Edinburgh tavern, a drain in a site of putrescence is allowed to flow into the street, from whence it shapes its course into Elizabeth Street, and after flowing for some distance through the centre of a crowded population, it finally falls into the Yarra. We would ask our man, must not the pestiferous exhalations arising from it be prejudicial to the health of the inhabitants residing in its immediate vicinity; assuredly it must, even the most apathetical would acknowledge the truth of our statement. Another crying evil is the stagnant water which is suffered to remain in the streets, and which, in the course of few days through the warm weather is in a state of decomposition- this latter evil will in time be remedied by the entire macadamizing the streets- but the former should be immediately looked to, or the consequences that may arise may be most serious. We are positive that our indefatigable police magistrate will now allow such a nuisance to exist one day when this attention is once attracted to it. (PPH 23/2/41 p.2)

Not only were the streets in poor condition, but they were infested with urchins setting off crackers. Fireworks are becoming an increasing problem in Melbourne today, after being banned for many years, but it seems that they were available in Melbourne as early as 1841. I wonder where they got them?

On Wednesday evening parts of Collins and Elizabeth streets were annoyed by the vagaries of several urchins, who to the manifest detriment of horse and foot passengers were giving vent to their love of mischief by the firing of crackers in the streets. This disagreeable nuisance some time since attracted the attention of the constables who very wisely put a stop to it. We trust that a recurrence of the evil will meet with their prompt attention. Whilst on the subject of nuisances, a short-sighted friend has requested us to give a hint to the different tradesmen on the impropriety of leaving boxes in the street opposite their respective houses at night, the result generally being some wounded limbs. We hope the practice will be discontinued. ( PPH 26/2/41 p.2)

Meanwhile, the good ladies of the Episcopal parish had complaints about dust on the pews. It seems odd that ‘drift sand’ would be a problem, especially when the beach was so far distant.

The attention of the churchwardens is particularly requested to the state of the pews or seats in the Episcopalian Church. Oceans of drift sand cover the benches to the infinite annoyance and inconvenience of the fair sex. A hint to the sexton from those in authority in church matters would no doubt have the desired effect. (PPH 23/2/41 p.2)

THE WEATHER

It sounds as if they were pleased to have a cool change:

THE WEATHER. During the past week an evident change has been observed in the temperature of the weather, the hot and scorching days have been succeeded by mild and pleasant weather, very similar to the autumn at home, the [?wind?] is free and healthy and the nerves properly braced. We are happy to understand that notwithstanding the past warmth of the season the hopes of the agriculturalist have been crowned with success.(PPH 26/2/41 p.2)

And indeed, the Government Gazette shows that the week 22-28 February was cloudy, with the highest temperature on 25th (85 degrees or 29.4 celsius) but heavy rain on the 26th and following days.  It records the rain for the week as 5.145 but I don’t know what this refers to (surely not inches??). Nonetheless, given that the rainfall. total for the month was 6.778, most of it fell in this last week of February.  Does anyone else know what these figures would be measuring?

 

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3 responses to “This Week in Port Phillip 1841: 24 to 28 February 1841

  1. These really are such a hoot. I doubt I will ever be able to slip, pestiferous exhalations, into a conversation. Sounds a little like music hall language, if you remember Down at the Old Bull and Bush.

  2. Some of the ‘sand’ in the churches would have been due to open doors and unpaved, heavily trafficked streets in summer, and maybe from hot northerlies over recently cleared inner northern suburbs. Does the sand-belt extend as far as the city? My guess is that the soil there is clay, as in the eastern suburbs.

    • residentjudge

      This is the first mention I’d heard of sand as such. Plenty about mud and dust, but not sand. I wonder if they used sand to mop up the mud?

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