Compiled for OzSportsHistory by Brian Membrey

Heidelberg : A City Within The Village


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Within the Village itself were kitchens and dining rooms providing a wide range of ethnic foods.

Prior to the Games, the Organising Committee sent representatives overseas to interview chefs from Europe, Singapore, Malaya, India and Pakistan; many more invitations to come to Melbourne were issued than actually required - some what fortunately as many of those selected (especially from Europe) later declined to attend.

Other facilities sauna baths with hot space (at 14 square feet person) for 20 men and seven women; an international restaurant with two dining rooms (one for competing teams and other for the public); recreation rooms and a cinema (the latter constructed by Heidelberg City Council; an Interpreter's Centre; Government Tourist Bureau; airlines Booking Office; Lost Property and Baggage office (60 by 30 feet); a Medical Centre and hospital (41 rooms, including X-ray, chiropody, physiotherapy and heat treatment), Dental Centre (4 rooms); laundry and dry cleaners (3 rooms); a tailor offering repairs and alterations; four men or women's hairdressers, a boot maker, a photographer for athletes and teams; eight religious "retreats"; a workshop and garden centre many public telephones with trunk call capability , and kiosks offering free drinks

The centre within the Village included eleven shops selling souvenir shops, groceries, a milk bar, confectionery, photographic supplies, stationers, books and  newspapers, a post office agency, and a greengrocers  Since the dining rooms provided unlimited fruit free of charge, the latter was converted to sell suit-lengths of Australian woollen cloth.   The shopping strip remains today, now in Moresby Road

There was also a press room of 1,200 square feet with the access from Southern Road, this appears to have been on the corner of today’s Midway Road at the rear of the shopping centre, but the likely site is now vacant

Although not part of the Olympic construction, there was also a bank providing 240 safe deposits for individuals and teams, accessible 24 hours per day

ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND

Land of either side of the Darebin Creek from around Separation Street in Northcote north to Plenty Road was compulsorily acquired by the Housing Commission under Cain's Labor Government just after the proposed railway was announced

It remains a matter of historical conjecture as to which was "the chicken" or "the egg" – Cain claimed the takeover was to protect against land developers inflating prices, but the reality was that that was never a sod of earth ever turned on the supposed railway (plans officially abandoned in 1961) and it can be equally argued that the unlikely rail link was simply a cover to allowing the Housing Commission to acquire the land   

There was considerably debate at the time as to the legality of the Housing Commission's acquisition – the Commission was created to ensure housing for returned soldiers, but the area involved amounted to a little over 3,000 acres of which only a small proportion was ever developed as public housing.

There was perhaps a possibility that the Village could have been constructed to the west on the Preston side of the Darebin Creek, but around the time of the Housing Commission’s “land grab”, there were very preliminary plans in place for the construction of a railway line from Alphington to a point if East Preston (later extended to Boldrewood Parade in Reservoir, and then possibly to Bundoora.

The Alphington to East Preston Railway Act passed in 1946 and was repealed without a whimper in 1960 without a sod of earth ever being turned..




The entrance today, now Alamein Road

Above : The Olympic Village Post Office Agency.  It was rumoured some athletes picked up some petty cash by posting letters from the agency to philatelists as the First Day Covers with highly prized.

Below : The shopping centre today, now in Moresby Road

The "Preston Land Grab" as pictured in the Preston Leader, 19 June, 1946 with the approximate route of the proposed railway. The red line indicates the extension through to the corner of Boldrewood Parade and Broadway added to the proposal in 1948. Princess Street is now Chifley Drive.

Despite the description used in most newspapers, about one-third of the acquisition as shown impacted Cain's own electorate of Northcote to the left of the blue line.


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