The life of a building exists only to meet the needs of the community. In the case of the high street, the needs of community change over the years, and the ubiquitous regular shaped shop with a large front window can accommodate those changes. These shops, many approaching their 90th or 100th birthdays have housed butchers, grocers, bootmakers, mixed business, drapers, hairdressers, pizza bars, delis, and most recently cafes, gyms and gift shops. Small businesses having a go, some lasting decades, others disappearing within a few years. Times before refrigeration and private transport meant there was a need to shop for groceries locally and often. The tram stops at 7th Avenue, Dundas Road and Salisbury Street were each hubs for essential items, which may explain the original number of butchers and grocers. The postal service, police station, banks, and library all started as agencies or parts of a general store in one of these buildings. Lobbying from the community assisted the development of permanent purpose-built buildings.
As cars became affordable and popular, vacant land became a proliferation of petrol stations and car yards. As the land has become more valuable, along with the occasional demolition of an old house, many of those have become apartments and office blocks.
Purpose-built hotels, theatres and town halls arrived, meeting the social needs of the community, which is now somewhat met by pop-up events.
Interestingly, there is not a church along the whole strip and never has been.
The recent dominance of two major chain supermarkets on the visual landscape of the strip is a little concerning to me. Is our suburb at risk of becoming a cookie cutter version of any other in the country? Are we at risk of losing our unique status, our history?
My research (Post Office Directories, Landgate map viewer, telephone directories, oral histories, images) informed Pub to Pub – A Street Scape. Visually portrayed in long strips, one rectangle each represents a year that a building has been on that particular block. I have used recycled and vintage fabrics to show the types of buildings, along with coloured stitched stripes as a key to the types of businesses occupying those spaces and changes on the Inglewood Beaufort Street strip over the past 100 years.
This work is part of Suburban Secrets – Art Trail & History Walk