Compiled for OzSportsHistory by Brian Membrey

Courses For Horses - Fitzroy

#top Fitzroy Above : 1909 MMBW map of the Fitzroy Racecourse (double click to enlarge) Below : Finish of the Croxton Handicap, 23 September, 1929 Below : Finish of the Croxton Handicap, 23 September, 1929

The grounds were closed to racing from 31 July, 1931, and although occasionally used for charity carnivals, athletics and junior football matches, the land remained largely vacant until 1941 when an investor outlaid around £30,000 for re-development as a housing estate.   

Initial reports suggested some 200 blocks may be available, but Northcote Council insisted that additional streets were required to subdivide the 30-acre site and today's Bradley and Bird Streets were added.  There were earlier suggestions that the names of racehorses be used, but local opposition, seemingly designed to break the traditional link to racing, saw the Northcote Council adopt alternative names, that a of a recent mayor (Allan Bird) and City Engineer (Bradley).

The first section of 45 lots was released for sale at auction in February, 1942, every block sold at a total return of £13,720, just under £305 per site.

Details of the later sales do not seem to have been published. but if the first day's sale average is extended, the remaining 142 potentially might have brought another £43,294 and a total of £57,014, by any stretch of the imagination a handsome return to the unknown investor during the darkening days of the Second World War.

In reporting the first sale of the famous old site, the Sporting Globe's Merv. Williams (better known as Mumblin' Merv during his later days with Channel 7's World of Sport) added :=

"It will come as a kick in the pants to the Japs to learn that Australians fell over themselves to spend thousands of pounds buying building sites after what they have threatened to do to our cities"

Despite the optimism, most of the houses were not completed until the early 1950’s due to a severe shortage of building materials after the end of war. The last residence is believed to have been completed in 1955.