1850's Corrugated Iron Houses
399 Coventry Street, South Melbourne 3205.
- Constructed in the 1850's in Britain.
- Various manufacturers.
- Not listed on the Victorian Heritage Register.
The corrugated iron houses in South Melbourne are extremely rare surviving examples of portable housing from the 1850's. There are three such buildings surviving in South Melbourne, all of which were imported from Britain in the 1850's and are now owned by the National Trust of Australia (Victoria). Few such buildings remain in the entire world.
399 Coventry Street (Patterson House) is on its original site and the other two cottages (Abercrombie and Bellhouse) were rescued from demolition and moved to Coventry Street by the National Trust for preservation.
The National Trust provides the following information about each house:
Patterson House: Five six-roomed houses, each valued at £60, were erected in Coventry Street in 1853-54. In 1855, fourteen of a smaller size valued at 30 pounds each appeared in Patterson Place. Robert Patterson established this little colony of portable houses and his stenciled initials “R.P.” and shipping numbers were revealed on the walls after they were stripped of wallpapers, showing that the wooden crates were used as partition walls. The windows are generally cast iron casement and in one case the frame has a lower panel of corrugated iron, so that the whole opens as a French window.
Abercrombie House: Moved from 59 Arden Street, North Melbourne, this house is believed to have been manufactured by Moorewood & Rogers of London. It was first occupied by Andrew Abercrombie and was last lived in in 1976. At some time the house must have been divided as evidence by connecting doors between the rooms which were papered-over later. An external kitchen was once attached to the house.
Bellhouse House: Dismantled and removed from its original site at 42 Moor Street, Fitzroy, this building is believed to be the only remaining example of the work of Edward T. Bellhouse of Manchester, England, anywhere in the world. In 1851 he displayed his portable houses at the Great Exhibition. According to one description they were provided with boarded floors, ceilings and walls, wallpaper, carpets, furniture and a water closet. It is not known whether this cottage had all these accessories.
The National Trust offers tours of the houses, as well as open days.