This row of twelve terrace homes that lines the Upfield railway line in suburban Coburg is not only one of the longest but one of the most northern Victorian terraced streetscapes in metropolitan Melbourne.
Marvellous Melbourne sprawled northward and eastward and several speculative developments centred along the extensive railway network featuring terrace houses. Many of the rows in the north and eastern suburbs were humble working class cottage houses just like these.
There is one additional terrace house on either side of this row, but they appear to have either been later replacements for demolished houses or significantly remodelled as they are post-modern and semi-detached. The Victorian Italianate villa style houses themselves are of mixed condition, such as to make it difficult to ascertain the original design elements. Some are brightly coloured with details highlighted, some wonderfully restored, others are plain with unsympathetic additions. Most of the facades are plain and rendered, however one or two feature a zig-zag polychrome brick pattern to match the chimneys although the brickwork appears to be in good condition underneath the render.
Each house has a parapet hiding its roof topped by a triangular pediment dressed with a small crown (however the latter has been removed on many) and containing a shell/peacock motif. There are two plinths on either side with a square pattern on each. These were presumably topped by urns or finials – suprisingly none of which are still present. Between them is a cartouche of vermiculation flanked by long horizontal scrolls with a floral pattern embedded into them. The parapet sits above a shallow cornice, below which is another vermiculated frieze and small vermiculated cartouches between long rectilinear tracings. The verandah projects out on a shallow angle and both party walls are dressed in panels of vermiculation above an acanthus scroll corbel. The verandah has a simple span of iron lacework with brackets on either side and a central pendant.
My guess is that these terraces were built in or just before 1888 when the nearby railway station was opened.
I was suprised to find that Moreland City Council currently does not offer any heritage protection whatsoever for this long and intact row of terraced houses, especially considering that Coburg has been designated an urban renewal zone under Melbourne 2030 planning policy. However the nearby railway station and art deco knitting mills are listed. As mentioned above, it is my belief that these terraces are not just locally significant to Coburg but of possible state significance as they represent the extent of medium density development and its predominant style in the outer reaches of metropolitan Melbourne during the land boom.