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Downie Street, Melbourne runs parallel with Spencer St, between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street. The activity area of 9-27 Downie Street was first purchased in 1840. In May 1842, the site was sold to Robert Langlands and Thomas Fulton for £1000 who established an iron foundry. The business was the first foundry and iron shipbuilder in Melbourne and it manufactured a wide range of marine, civil engineering, mining and railway components.  Wooden buildings associated with the first foundry in Victoria, “Langlands Foundry”, were constructed within or nearby the subject area as early as 1842, only 7 years after Melbourne was officially settled.


The foundry expanded across the site with more substantial brick buildings and a blast furnace added. The foundry remained there till the 1880s. Brick shops were built on Flinders Lane occupying the northernmost part of the subject area which were later occupied by the Oriental Tea Co depot. The site appears to have been continuously occupied for commercial purposes since 1842. Businesses have included; the Langlands Iron foundry, The Oriental Tea Co. The West End Stables and several storage and cartage companies.

A large scale historical excavation was undertaken by ArchLink over 12 weeks from November 2018 through to end of January 2019.
A further three weeks of monitoring was conducted after the excavation was completed in February, 2019. The historic excavations revealed extant structures including original bluestone wall footings, underground flu systems and drains made with handmade bricks, timber and iron sheets, furnace pits and stable walls. Over 15,000 artefacts were uncovered including glass and ceramic bottles and myriad metal objects relating to foundry work such as crucibles, files and nails dating from the 1850s onwards. In addition, a large abundance of bone, including animal burials and smaller items such as buttons, coins and clay pipes were recovered.

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