For more than a century the grand Edwardian baroque building of Flinders Street Station has
dominated Melbourne's southern boundary. The design was selected by an architectural competition held in 1902, and the red
brick and golden cream stucco building was constructed between 1905 and 1910.
Trains had been arriving at Flinders Street since 1854. The present building is the most spectacular
of a number that have stood on the site. Stretching along Flinders Street for more than a city block, and boasting grand archways
and an expansive ballroom, it is public architecture on a majestic scale — a symbol of the importance of railways to
the growth of the city and its suburbs.
Flinders Street Station has become far more than a place of transit. Meeting 'under the clocks'
is a Melbourne institution, and the building arguably remains the city's principal landmark. Recently refurbished and repainted,
Flinders Street Station is as resplendent today as ever.
Melbourne's two other early central-city stations, Spencer St Station (now Southern Cross Station) and Princes
Bridge opened in 1859. Spencer St served the lines to the west of the city, and was isolated from the eastern side of the
network until a ground level railway was built connecting it to Flinders Street in 1879, this track being replaced by the
Flinders St Viaduct in 1889.
Princes Bridge Station was originally separated from Flinders Street, even though it was only on the opposite
side of Swanston St. Once the railway line was extended under the street in 1865 to join the two, Princes Bridge was closed.
It was not reopened until April 1879, and from 1909 slowly became amalgamated into Flinders Street.
Federation Square now occupies its site. Up until the 1880s a number of designs for a new station had been
prepared, but none ever went any further.
My earliest memopries of Flinders St Station go back to 1946, when I was
taken into town by train from Auburn to visit the big stores, gasp at the amazing Christmas displays in Myers' windows, and
go to the pictures.
By 1947, as an eight year old kid, I would go by train into town on my own, looking at
the shops and fossicking around the incredible Eastern Merket in Bourke St and the varous old-world arcades..