Just before the prominence of private cars engrained itself into Melbourne’s urban planning after the Second World War, Reservoir went through a major housing expansion.
Although there was some European settlement in the area before the post-war boom, much of the suburb remained undeveloped or underdeveloped in 1945.
But just one year later, hundreds of new streets were laid out and vacant properties became available for purchase. Over time, lots were filled up rapidly; mainly by a combination of migrants and returning serviceman with their families.
A distinctive feature of this large-scale plan was the siting of 14 small-scale shopping areas. These were fairly evenly distributed across the northern part of the suburb to offer local goods and services in close proximity to new residents.
Today, almost all of these little shopping strips are more or less intact. Two have ceased to function as retail centres and have been converted to residential uses. However, the rest do still have at least a couple of small shops offering useful services to their surrounding communities.
The Cycling Tour
Armed with my TravelSmart map (roughly annotated with the locations of each shopping strip) I set out to document each of these 14 local shopping areas.
You can see the full album of photos here. I’ve included a small selection below with some comments.
The brown brick of Reservoir’s houses is also strongly reflected in the shopping strips.
There is this solitary milk bar on Amery Street in North-West Reservoir. Hard to tell if it was originally a milk bar or if it has been converted from a residential house. The old ‘Deli’ sign would suggest that it has been around for a while at any rate.
The post office at Gellibrand Village has this old partially-covered ‘Reservoir North Post Office’ sign on the front. It was interesting to see how some shops referred to their location in different shopping strips. There was a mower shop in Massey Avenue that also referred to itself as being in ‘Reservoir North’.
This type of architecture with slanted roofs is only found at a couple of shopping strips in North-East Reservoir and not in North-West Reservoir at all. I presume that this is because this area took longer to develop than the west side.
While some of the shopping strips looked a little worse for wear, the only one with no commercial activity whatsoever is the one located in Market Court. Most of the former shops appear to be vacant while some have been converted to residential uses.
The ‘Seven Day Food’ brand of milk bars appears to be unique to the northern suburbs. There are still quite a few around Reservoir, including this one at Strathmerton Village.