Author: Public Record Office Victoria

While researching the life of draftsman-surveyor Thomas Henry Nutt, PROV volunteer Clive Haddock came upon the plan entitled LODDON65; BRICKMAKERS BOUNDARY; NUTT; Melbourne South within our Historic Plans Collection, Series VPRS 8168. And a new ‘mini’ project was born.

When Clive discovered the plan had no date, he was certain that Trove (NLA) would provide the answer.

By using a combination of his ever-growing knowledge of Nutt, and research into digitised newspapers on Trove, Clive is confident he has narrowed down the year.


coloured map
The undated Nutt plan vprs8168 p2 unit2779


Start spreading the news…

The Port Phillip Patriot about the “rise of the river and the great damage it has occasioned”: 

"We understand that the garden and other cultivated land of the Police Magistrate has been completely inundated, and the produce of the land swept away. We saw the huts of many of our laborious working classes not merely surrounded by the watery flood, but in some cases the water was many feet deep within their dwellings. This industrious class of men must therefore have suffered very severely, all the bricks they had made, and which were unburnt, amounting to between six and seven hundred thousand are destroyed, and their Christmas Day instead of being a day of feasting and rejoicing, as is usual in Britain, was to them a day of sorrow and loss, for the rains of Monday night and Tuesday morning did not appear likely to swell over the banks until Wednesday morning, when the sudden rush of waters from the distant creeks into the Yarro, (in a very short space of time,) overflowed the banks, and caused great — very great loss, this loss has principally fallen upon the labourer and brickmaker…"

Land Sales Cause Brick Price Rise

..."blocks of land should be marked off and put up for sale where the brickmakers worked." 

Clive suggests that ground upon which many early bricks were made in Melbourne was on the north side of the river and a large portion thereof was forced to move across the bank because of township land sales. He believes this is revealed in a March 1839 Port Phillip Patriot, article.

... "We may beg leave to inform the Editor of the Port Phillip Gazette, that, the sending the Brickmakers over the River, not the removing them back to this bank, was the error. We have had in common with the Public, to pay three shilling per thousand, for the puntage of all bricks made on the other side the Yarra Yarra; which tax, will cease on the return of the Brickmakers to this side of the river." 

Suggesting the same brickmakers, and punts, are illustrated on Nutt’s plan, east of the falls opposite Queens Street.


The Plan

Clive says that T. H. Nutt was possibly assigned the job of pegging out the brick-field because it lay on Crown Land, and its dimensions (23a. 1r. 0p.) were possibly needed for administrative purposes. Also clearly marked on the plan are the names, and locations, of the brick-maker huts and kilns:

Baxter, Green, Doyle, Lorten, Eldridge, Purton, Arnot J, Davis, Birch, Nettlefield, Bailey, Lane, and Malpus

Harris, Pearce, Cassey, Barnet, Norton, and Nettlefield

Clive believes the year the plan was drawn can be established on the basis that; Government draftsman-surveyor T. H. Nutt arrived in Port Phillip District, from Sydney, per Regia, on Nov.10, 1838, and devastation to the brick field occurred in the December 1839. And so...


1839 it is!

Clive also says that the Trove newspaper articles not only helped establish the year the plan was drawn as 1839, but also offered stimulating facts of the day. Such as; the making of bricks very close to the fledgling township was cost effective in supply. However, this changed when the group was forced to relocate across the river and eventual loss of business for the brick-makers. Aboriginal people, while observing the devastation of the December 1839 flood from the river banks, interacted with affected settlers. The police magistrate, at the time, lived on the river bank and possibly opposite the brick field. (As seen on the plan).

Other newspaper articles and sources of interest

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