The birth of a suburb
North Melbourne grew into a predominantly working-class suburb by the early 1850s. From the 1840s the area supported industry, farming and marketing, but by 1851 there was an awareness of a growing need for Melbourne to deal with the influx of people who had failed to find their fortune on the goldfields. The first Benevolent Asylum was established for that purpose. While the asylum was later torn down, the depression of the 1930s saw North Melbourne laneways become overcrowded and defined as slums. Government housing development projects began and were completed in the 1960s.
Two of North Melbourne's most imposing buildings, the Metropolitan Meat Market and the North Melbourne Town Hall were constructed in the 1870s, resulting in the name change from Hotham Hill to North Melbourne Town.
Records in the Keep Victoria Market Association collection indicate that the establishment of the Metropolitan Meat Market provided major competition for the Victoria Markets Meat Sheds which had been operating since 1878.
The company was formed in 1879 by meat industry figures and investors to build and operate a meat marketing premises, which would also include a hotel and bank. The company committee voted to wind up the company 100 years later in 1979. A hotel continued to trade in the south-east corner of the building.