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556-560 Flinders St is situated on the corner of Flinders and Downie streets, near to the intersection of Flinders and Spencer Street. It comprises 2 extant buildings that are listed on the Heritage Inventory. The site is set to be demolished and ArchLink was commissioned to undertake an archaeological assessment.

Background research has discovered that the history of the site dates back to the original settlement of Melbourne and the construction of John Batman's dwelling in 1837. As the closest street to the Yarra River, Flinders Street serviced Melbourne's original river port. This area remained the principal point of debarkation and of customs control for many years (Lewis 1995, p.25). John Batman constructed a house to the west of Spencer Street in 1837 and maps reveal that the current activity area was potentially part of an accompanying garden.

The subject area was first purchased from the Crown in 1840, before being sold the following year. In 1842, it was again sold to Robert Langlands and Thomas Fulton who set up an iron foundry between Flinders Street and Flinders Lane. This was the first iron foundry in Melbourne and was also excavated by ArchLink in 2019.

The buildings which occupy the site today were built in 1866 and 1875. 558-560 Flinders St was constructed by a man by the name of George Stooke while 556 Flinders St was constructed for the Bank of NSW. Both buildings maintained stable businesses over the course of their use. Occupations included shipping butchers, hairdressers, tobacconists, restaurants and cafes.


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