Preston Skating Rink
A roller skating rink opened on the corner of Plenty Road and Seymour Street, South Preston in 1888 much to the excitement of the local residents as it was the first rink to be opened north of Fitzroy.
Three hundred people attended the opening ceremony including members of the Shire Council, a number of ‘local magnates’ and ‘the fair sex being well represented’.
Councillor Short JP opened the proceedings.
‘A band was in attendance and it did its best to discourse such sweet music as would help to chase the happy hours away.’
Events were held throughout the evening including a boy’s race of half a mile with a first prize of 7s & 6d. For the adults was a men’s race of one mile with a first prize of a pair of skates and the winner of the Ladies race won a silver bracelet.
‘During the evening several skaters succeeded in hurting the floor, and both a lady and a gentleman fainted and had to be carried out.’
‘Several Prestonians both of the stern and fair sex seem to have, in a very short time, attained great proficiency, and moved along the floor with celebrity and grace truly astonishing to those not versed in the art and mystery of skating on rollers.’
In 1888 public admission charges were one shilling and skates for hire for the princely sum of sixpence. Children under 14 paid sixpence admission and another sixpence for skate hire.
Tuesday and Friday afternoons were reserved for ‘Ladies only’ sessions with admission charges of sixpence and skate hire free.
The rink was also open for private occasions as an article in October 1888 described.
‘The Preston Skating Rink on Tuesday evening, presented a very animated appearance. The gathering being by invitation consequently was quite select. Some time had been devoted to ornamenting the rink with evergreens, flags etc. and a very pretty effect was secured. The new brass band from Northcote was present and played very nicely during the evening. Some good marches and waltzes were gone through by a number of guests.’
It is not clear from this article whether the guests were wearing roller skates or just using the rink as a venue.
Groups used the building as a venue for a variety of reasons including public meetings dealing with various matters affecting the shire such as the slow progress of developing the Fitzroy to Whittlesea railway line.
In 1890 a meeting was held at the rink to discuss advocating an extension of the Clifton Hill and Northcote tramway through to Preston.
Electoral meetings were also held in the building for many years.
Street directories indicate that the Skating Rink closed in 1894 and then was listed as Preston Public Hall. The building may have been demolished and redeveloped at a later date as an MMBW plan in 1910 shows a vacant piece of land on the site of the skating rink.
Prestonshire. Mercury & Weekly Courier (Vic: 1878 – 1903) Friday 30 March 1888, page 2
Advertisement – Mercury & Weekly Courier (Vic: 1878-1903) Friday 18 May 1888, page 2
Mercury & Weekly Courier (Vic: 1878-1903) Thursday 25 October 1888. page 2
Extension of tramway to Preston. The Age (Melbourne Vic: 1854 – 1954) Friday 21 March 1890, page 6
Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory 1864- 1974. [Microfiche]. (1974). Melbourne, Australia: Sands & McDougall.
MMBW plan no.2378. Shire of Preston, 1910. State Library of Victoria