11 Ireland Street

11 Ireland Street
West Melbourne VIC 3003
source: Melbourne Council archives

Also known as
Previous Address 1 Ireland Street changed to 11 Ireland Street after council renumbering

Timelapse Building Images


A single storey brick warehouse. Built in the mid 1930’s.

source: Melbourne Council archive

Land Details

  1. 1895 MMBW Map

Building Details

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Subsequent Building Alterations

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Architectural Features

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Heritage Significance and Listings

Heritage Listings and Explanatory Notes


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Social History

Mrs. Marion Ramsay lived at 11 Ireland Street in 1890.

source Sands & McDougall 1890

In 1885 this home was known as 1 Ireland Street. When Melbourne Council had the streets renumbered it became 11 Ireland Street.

Mrs. Marion Ramsay lived here in 1885.

source Sands & McDougall 1885

Andrew, Marion and Walter Ramsay taken about 1879.

Andrew Ramsay (1825 – 1885) and his wife  Marion Brown (1824 – 1895)

Andrew was born in Lighthorne, Lanarkshire, Scotland around 1825. To date, no more specific details are available. Victorian BDM records indicate that his parents were Andrew Ramsay and Elizabeth Mason

Marion was born on the 18th December, 1824 in neighboring Paisley, Renfrewshire some 10kms from Glasgow. She was the second of 8 children born to James Brown and Marion Watt from Paisley. Several of the other children were called Elizabeth, John, Robert, James and Janet, and these names were to follow on to their own children.

Marion and Andrew were married on 14 December 1844 at Paisley. Over the next few years, the following children were born:-

*Elizabeth Mason Ramsay          1845      Bellhouse, Lanarkshire

*John Brown Ramsay                  1847      Bellhouse, Lanarkshire

*Robert Ramsay                          1849     Malton, Stirlingshire

Andrew Ramsay (1)                    1851      Renfrewshire

(*as per the March 1851 Scottish Census)

During the 1840’s and into the 1850’s, the “Highland Clearances” took place. Many of the lairds drove their own clansmen from the mountains so that they could run sheep on their properties, a far more profitable proposition. Conditions in Scotland were very difficult and from the known birthplaces of the children, it appears that the family moved around in the vicinity of Glasgow, probably in search of work. Also active in Scotland at that time was a Scottish Presbyterian cleric, John Dunmore Laing, who had first come to the colony of NSW in 1823. He believed that this new land provided excellent opportunities for his countrymen and was keen to see as many Scots as possible emigrate there to improve the “character of the inhabitants”, who he generally regarded as rabble. For various reasons, by the end of the 1850’s one quarter of the colony of Victoria were of Scottish descent.

Half- way around the world, important events were occurring that would forever change the course of history for Andrew, Marion and their children. On the 1st July, 1851 the colony of Victoria gained independence from NSW, which meant that they now had self-government, could raise their own taxes and largely determine their own future. At the same time, gold was discovered at Bathurst, NSW closely followed by further discoveries at Clunes, Victoria. Gold-fever soon spread around the world and by the end of 1851, both Sandhurst (Bendigo) and Ballarat were miniature cities of tents, shanties and weatherboard pubs, filled with diggers from all walks of life seeking their fortune. Over 100,000 immigrants had poured into the colony of Victoria by the end of 1852.

Given the situation in Scotland and the tales of opportunities available in the colonies, the family must have taken the gamble to emigrate in search of a new life. They embarked on an “Assisted Passage” basis on the sailing ship “Garland”, which sailed from Liverpool on 26th April 1852. The ships records listed them under the name of Ramsey, with these details:- Andrew Ramsey    (25)

Came from Renfrew, Scotland. Labourer. Both Andrew & Marion could read and write (most people could not). Came out of own account without rations.

Maria Ramsey       (25)

Elizabeth Ramsey   (7)

John Ramsey          (5)

Robert Ramsey       (3)

Andrew (1) was not listed with the others, but tragically it appears that he died on board ship during the voyage. As in later years, the attempt to name a son after the father would prove to be sadly unsuccessful.

The voyage to Australia normally took 3 months. For the poor and assisted passage emigrant families, traveling steerage class below decks was hell on high water- a journey of suffering and terror. People were crammed in like sardines and a family like ours was generally only allocated one medium sized bunk between them. In 1852, many thousands of passengers died of disease or malnutrition, the result of overcrowding by dishonest or greedy masters.

The ship finally arrived in Port   Melbourne on 31st July 1852 (above is   the port in 1858). Whilst the weather then would have been similar to that in their native Scotland, there the similarity would have ended. Melbourne was a seething mass of humanity. People  of all shapes, sizes and nationalities were arriving from all parts of the globe to seek their fame and fortune, many only stopping in Melbourne long enough to obtain supplies before setting off northwards to the goldfields.

Melbourne was not founded until 1835 and those who decided to remain there to begin their new existence would have experienced a young, raw city still in the throes of development and expansion. Most streets were still rough and un-sealed, there was no running water or sewerage system, little or no street lighting and no transport system. The first gasworks was not built in Melbourne until 1855. Another tribulation faced by people of European origin was the intense heat and the natural dryness of the surrounding countryside during the summer months. This adversely affected their metabolism and made farming difficult.

Just to illustrate the rapid changes that took place in Melbourne, the following are some comparisons that can be made:

  • In 1845, Bourke St. contained but a few scattered cottages and sheep were grazed on the thick grass then growing in the street. In Collins St., the principal street, there was but one jeweler. In 1846, the harbour of Hobson’s bay might contain 2 large ships, 3 brigs and a few small colonial craft.
  • By 1856, Bourke St. had many with fine buildings and usually crowded with throngs of people. Collins St. had jewelers’ shops as many and as brilliant as those that glittered in Regent St., London. The same harbour would be filled with about 200 large ships, and countless other vessels from America, New Zealand and various foreign ports. Melbourne was truly a vibrant and amazing city which kept developing until by 1861, it was the largest city in Australia.

Sandridge Railway Pier (1878). The first railway with steam operated trains in Australia was built between the pier and Melbourne in 1854. The single line covered a distance of 4 kms.

Soon after arriving in Melbourne, Andrew found employment as a “flour miller, his former occupation in Scotland. Their first child born in Australia was Alexander Brown Ramsay on 21st May 1853 and his place of birth on the relative certificate was noted as “flourmills – Carlton”. This could also indicate that the family may have lived on the premises at the time, but this could have only been temporary. Andrew continued his profession as a miller for the rest of his working life.

Over the next 14 years or so, a further six children were born to Andrew and Marion:-

Marion Ramsay                                 1855        Emerald Hill (Sth. Melb)

Andrew Ramsay (2)                           1857        Emerald Hill –died 1858

aged 8 months

Mary Ramsay                                    1859        Emerald Hill – died 1882

aged 23

Agnes Tannahill Ramsay                  1862        Emerald Hill

Janet Anderson Ramsay                   1864        Melbourne

James Robert Ramsay                      1867        Melbourne

Sadly their third child Robert, who had emigrated from Scotland with them, passed away in 1866 aged just 17.

In those days, most children were born in the home. Based on the registered birthplaces of five of the above children, it is therefore reasonable to assume that between say 1853 and 1866, the family lived at Emerald Hill, which in later years was renamed South Melbourne. During 1851/52, accommodation shortages forced people to live in tents at “Canvastown” on the south bank of the Yarra River. This became known as Emerald Hill, which geographically was an old volcanic outcrop jutting above the swampland of the Yarra delta, some 2kms from Melbourne. During 1852, a survey of Emerald Hill resulted in the auction of sub-divided lots and on the 26th May, 1853 Emerald Hill was proclaimed a separate borough. A Presbyterian school opened there in 1854 and by 1858, Emerald Hill had its own railway station on the St.Kilda line.

Prior to the birth of Janet, who was born in Melbourne in 1864, the family appears to have moved from Emerald Hill to West Melbourne. After the birth of James in 1867, there were 8 living children presumably still at home with their parents. This situation eased somewhat on the 16th January 1868, when the eldest child Elizabeth married Joseph Fidler (who was also a miller) at the home of the bride, 29 Abbotsford Street, Hotham – see later footnote.

“Rose Cottage” 213 Dryburgh St, North Melbourne. Built c.1866 and similar to many houses of that era. It is located just a few blocks away from the former Ramsay home in Abbotsford Street.

Soon after that, but before January 1871, the entire family moved to Talbot, a gold mining town way out in the bush approx. 45 kms. North of Ballarat. It was not serviced by rail until 1875, but Cobb & Co. horse-drawn coaches had commenced operations between Melbourne and Bendigo in 1853. By 1871, the stagecoach network was quite extensive.

What on earth possessed Andrew and Marion to uproot their entire family and move there? Once more, perhaps it was for employment reasons.  Andrew was a miller and it is known that both John and Alexander also became millers – Alexander, at least, worked at Wilson’s Mill, Talbot (later in 1886) but John was in Ballarat by 1873. Or perhaps other family members persuaded them to go there – at that time, there were several other Ramsay families in Talbot:

  • Samuel Weir Ramsay – ran a tinsmith & ironmonger business, but subsequent contact with his descendants failed to establish any connection.
  • John Ramsay – a “splitter” by occupation and his family. Again, there does not seem to be a connection.

However, it should be noted that by the time the family arrived in Talbot, the town was well established with some imposing buildings. The crazy gold rush days of 1855 and 1859 were well and truly over – see the following article on Talbot.

Marion was pregnant again and on 19 January 1871, Andrew Ramsay (3) was born in Talbot – as before, the same fate as the previous two sons named Andrew befell him and he died 2 days later. They must have been devastated, but Marion soon fell pregnant again and their last child, Walter Mitchell Ramsay was born on 19 December 1871 in Talbot.

The family was to remain in the town for the next 10 years or so and happier times were to follow –

-John Ramsay met and married Elizabeth Jane Davey at Sebastapol, Ballarat in 1873. They settled in Ballarat.

-Alexander Brown Ramsay met and married Janet Dick at Talbot on 24 November 1880.

-Marion Ramsay met and married John Smith Hackett at Melbourne in 1882.

From 1880 onwards, Talbot slowly started to decline and around 1881, the family must have decided to return to their previous habitat at West Melbourne. Mary, aged 23, passed away there on 22 July 1882.

Worse was to follow. Andrew, by now aged 60, passed away on 7 May 1885 at his home at 1 Ireland St. (cnr. Abbotsford St.) West Melbourne. This house has since been demolished. Marion continued to live in the area for the next 10 years and during that time the following events occurred:-

  • Agnes Ramsay (aged 25) married Alfred William Purves in 1887
  • Janet Ramsay (aged 26) married William Jackson Cooper in 1890 – they do not appear to have had any children.
  • John Ramsay died in Ballarat on 29 August 1894, aged 46.
  • Walter Ramsay (aged 23) married Mary Ann Gerber on 23 August 1895.

By this time, Marion’s health had started to fail and only James was left to take care of her at her home at 137 Flemington Road, North Melbourne (still standing in 2005). On the 14th October 1895, Marion passed away at this address, her long and eventful journey ended.

Several years later, on the 6th April 1898, James also passed away at the age of 30.

Andrew, Marion, Robert, Mary and James are all buried nearby at Melbourne General Cemetery.

FOOTNOTE: The marriage celebrant who married Elizabeth and Joseph Fidler was Rev. Andrew Mitchell Ramsay, Minister of St. Enoch’s Church, Collins St. Melbourne. He was born in Shettleston, Scotland in 1809 and migrated to Australia in 1846. His son, Robert Ramsay was Chief Secretary of Victoria at the time of the Kelly gang and personally took charge of the hunt and eventual capture of the gang, including the incarceration of Ned Kelly. Witnesses at the wedding were James Anderson and Margaret Mitchell Ramsay (Minister’s daughter). My grandfather was named Walter Mitchell Ramsay (1871) and his older sister Janet Anderson Ramsay (1864). Elizabeth Ramsay/Fidler’s second child was named Andrew Mitchell Ramsay Fidler (1871). All this could indicate that my great-grandfather Andrew Ramsay and the Minister, Andrew Mitchell Ramsay were related, or perhaps they were close friends and my great-grandparents were impressed with the names – who knows!

 by Doug Ramsay

Context and Streetscape



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