Tuesday, 08 July 2014 07:51

Miniature Railway

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Miniature railway at rear of Palais Theatre Miniature railway at rear of Palais Theatre St Kilda the Beautiful, p.17 (1931), SLV

From the 1880s onwards miniature railways were often installed in amusement parks and fairs around Melbourne as a form of entertainment for young children. Aerial photographs indicate that the first miniature railway on this site was constructed sometime after 1913 at the rear of the Palais de Danse Pictures. The track was laid in a circular form and was surrounded by a low post and rail fence set within a grassed and landscaped area.

AerialAerial view ca 1940-50When the Palais Pictures was rebuilt in 1927, the track was relocated further west to enable a car park to be built at the rear of the new theatre building. The new track circuit was greatly increased in length forming in plan a long rectangle with curved ends, running along Jacka Boulevard. The entrance to the ride was behind the kiosk at the corner of Cavell Street.



In the booklet St Kilda the Beautiful issued by the St Kilda Shore Publicity Committee in 1931 the ride was described thus: A real railway. with its puffing steam engine. tender and carriages. a properly laid track, complete with signals, bridges and tunnels - exactly like a real modern railroad, but without the attendant dangers of the latter. Thousands of kiddies patronise this, their first choice, and experience its thrills, whilst many parents, on the pretext of "looking after" their bairns, find this as an excuse to share the delights of their offspring.


View in ca 1931, SLV image H91.325-1971View in ca 1931, SLV image H91.325-1971By ca.1960 the ride had ceased to function. The site then reverted to parkland. However by the 1980s this landscaped area had mostly become a car park.


No. Reference Notes
 1. St Kilda the Beautiful, p.17 (1931), SLV  Shows top image with general description.
 2. Advertisements, Argus 1939.11.25 p.20 County Court Notice by St Kilda Shore Committee stating that unless previous execution satisfied, will sell goods on 28 November 1939 at 2.30pm, defendant Alfred Wesley Evans.
 3 Advertisements, Argus 1941.12.13 p.14  St Kilda Shore Committee advertises tenders for the Right of Occupancy of Miniature Railway site for a period of 12 months from 1st Januray next.

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