1841 - 1930's | The Western & Eastern Markets

1841 - 1930's | The Western & Eastern Markets

The Melbourne Wholesale Markets, long located in West Melbourne before its move to Epping in 2010, had its early beginnings in another location when the Western Market was opened in December of 1841, only six years after the Victorian settlement.

The site of Melbourne's very first official fruit and vegetable market, the Western Market was surrounded by Market Street (named after the market), Collins Street, William Street and also Flinders Lane.

As Melbourne flourished, drawing more people to the city a second market was established on the corner of Bourke Street and Exhibition Street named the Eastern Market (known locally as Paddy's Market). It operated from 1847 until it's demolition in 1960, it catered to the general public with mostly fruit and vegetables from market gardeners, holding 224 stands at its peak.

The Southern Cross Hotel was later built on the site (1962-2003) followed by Southern Cross Tower, designed by architects Woods Bagot.

While the Western Market had begun as a grand hub of goods for one and all in the public, come the 1860's it had gradually grown into a wholesale cased market, allowing more than 1000 growers to sell their goods and produce during each year.

Following the opening of the Queen Victoria Market in March of 1878, both the Western and Eastern Markets were eventually merged into the Queen Victoria Market, now the most iconic marketplace in Melbourne.

In part, the slow and steady merger owed to a fire that occurred at the Western Market in 1853, forcing the fruit and vegetable growers' section to move to the Eastern Market, where the growers sold their produce until the 1878 move to Queen Victoria Market. After rebuilding in the wake of the fire, the Western Market continued as the merchants' section of the Wholesale Fruit and Vegetable Market until they moved to Queen Victoria Market in 1930.

The wholesale sellers and retail sellers resided at the Queen Victoria Market until the 1960's when the growing industry of market sellers meant that the Queen Victoria Market could no longer accommodate both wholesale and retail vendors. Unable to support both sides of the market practice, the wholesalers were relocated to West Melbourne where the Melbourne Wholesale Market was opened in 1969.

And aren't we, the public, lucky that the retailers won out. Had it all come down to a coin toss, we'd perhaps be hoofing it to Epping for our knock-off jeans and hot donuts.

Other Market Facts (At Wholesale Prices)