Melbourne Water has advised that works are to be undertaken later this year on the storm water drain under the median strip of Alexandra Parade. This nineteenth century bluestone drain runs from Nicholson Street Fitzroy to Gold Street in Clifton Hill. The u-shaped drain was covered by a concrete roof deck in the twentieth century. The concrete cover has now deteriorated and needs replacing, although the bluestone drain remains in functional order.
History of the Reilly St Drain: Collingwood was made a municipality in 1855, and the new council was faced with the problem of the poor drainage of the Collingwood Flat south of Reilly Street (now called Alexandra Parade). Council was also interested in draining the slope north of Reilly Street to allow for settlement in the undeveloped area now known as Clifton Hill. In the late 1850s Collingwood co-operated with Melbourne Council to cut a major open drain along Reilly Street to the Yarra River. The drain was an immediate failure, overflowing southward on to the Flat. Then it was extended westwards through Fitzroy to Carlton, bringing down even more water and pollution, so that the East Collingwood section needed enlarging. At that time it was about 10 feet deep and lined with stone but later was further enlarged. It was crossed on wooden bridges.
It tended to accumulate refuse ranging from pots and pans to animal carcases, not to mention the occasional drunk needing to be rescued. This section was not covered in until around the turn of the century. To make matters worse, from about 1870 noxious industries were given permission to discharge waste into the open drain.
It was 1908 before the drain was finally covered with reinforced concrete. Before the tender was accepted, the contractor had to demonstrate that the covers could withstand the weight of the council’s 12-ton steamroller going over them.
An arborist will work with the contractors, as it will probably be necessary for some trees to be removed for the works to proceed. We are hoping that there might be some opportunity for a peep at the open drain while covers are off.
If you want to keep up to date with progress on the works, visit