Greg
Greg's diary
September 1957
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Groogle

This isn't a real diary: it's the best I can make of my recollections after more than 50 years. It's written in part because I have discovered that Julian Assange, a founder of Wikileaks, lived there decades later.


Sunday, 1 September 1957 Mt Evelyn → Melbourne
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Topic: general Link here

Today we moved into our new house in 177 Grattan Street, Carlton. I can't remember very much of it, just that we already knew we were going to have to completely remodel the front part of the house. I took the opportunity to be naughty and draw on the wallpaper in the hallway—a circuit diagram of a crystal set.


Extending the house
Topic: general Link here

My father was an architect, and he also had considerable experience building houses (he built the first house we lived in from scratch and almost single-handedly). The house was tiny, at the end of a terrace of four houses. It would have been built round 1900. It had a single story with two rooms in the front, with a hallway on the left. At the end of the hallway there was some steps down into the kitchen, with a laundry room behind it. A staircase led upstairs to two of the smallest bedrooms I have ever seen.

The ceilings in the front two rooms were over 3 metres high (I think), and my father's plan was to lower them to about 2.4 metres (modern ceiling height), lift the (slate) roof and put in a bed-sitting room with a kitchen corner in between, with a bathroom just behind it.

This wasn't that simple: clearly he needed planning permission, and one of the issues was that terrace houses of that era normally didn't have any dividing wall in the space above the ceilings. In principle, that wouldn't have been an issue, but they also usually had only a single row of bricks (4½") dividing the individual houses. Modern (1957) building regulations required at least a double row (9"), so a missing existing wall could have been a show-stopper.

My father checked: yes, both conditions were correct. But somewhere he had some used bricks, and he built an existing brick wall and got it dirty enough that the building inspector was satisfied. We never knew whether he noticed and said nothing, or whether he didn't notice.

After completing the extension—that must have been in November or December—we moved into the upstairs part and let the downstairs part (two front rooms and kitchen). My father was working in Malaya and returned there in early 1958, while my mother completed an obligatory year on-site at Melbourne University (just across the road). We returned to Malaya February 1959.

My parents let out the flats to university students, and on one occasion in December 1977 I stayed there with my wife for a couple of nights. I have never been in there again.


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