It’s been around for more than 100 years and more than 100,000 people pass through it each day, so we’re wondering – is Flinders Street Station an unsung hero of Melbourne’s genealogy?
Back in October 2012 we asked people to send us in their love stories related to the station… and it seem that the answer to our question about the station’s effect on Melbourne genealogy was a resounding …YES.
Here are some of the stories we were sent and images from the State Library, the Public Record Office and from the net that tell of romance at the station.
Margot Sherwood wrote:
You might be interested to know that I was introduced to my late husband in March 1947 in the lift of the Flinders Street Building.
I was already a member of the Melbourne Bushwalkers club and he was on his way to join. I am not sure whether the meetings were held in the Ballroom but certainly they were upstairs in one of the large rooms there.
We became very close after that meeting, attending every week on Friday nights when the meetings were held and going on many hikes; day hikes and weekend hikes. After two years going out together we were married at Easter 1949 and went on a Bushwalking trip to Wilsons Promontory for our Honeymoon along with other members.
I had another connection with that wonderful building. As children, my sister and I were left in the Child Minding Centre while our Mother and Grandmother went shopping.
I have very clear memories of the Child Minding Centre. We were in different sections as I was older than my sister and could ride around on a trike whereas she was in the bubs section.
It was painted green with a kind of stippled green on the walls.
Margot’s story is very similar to the story of my own parents, Vern and Lois Routley who met much later in the 60s at a bushwalking meeting at the Station.
When I asked people to send in their love stories about Flinders Street I was secretly longing to get pictures of women bidding their serviceman boyfriends goodbye on the station steps. Unfortunately, I think most men went to war from other stations so no such pictures turned up.
Still the call for stories did garner some responses about servicemen.
I met my husband at the Flinders Street Ballroom in about the year 1959 I was there with some friends, sitting down at the time. The Ballroom was a great place to go to and I always think of it when I do go to the City. All of a sudden this sailor raced up, grabbed my arm and pulled me out onto the balcony, then kissed me saying:
“Quick pretend you’re my girlfriend as this chick is after me and I’m trying to avoid her.”
We started to go out after that. We got engaged in May 1960 and married in January 1961. We moved around to various Naval bases in Australia, before settling in Frankston Vic. We had 3 children.
So Flinders Street was a great meeting place in the past. What about now? Do people still meet and find love there? Apparently so.
Platform 5, Flinders Street station, was a drizzly wet depressing grey day. I was heading to a job interview in South Melbourne. My car had broken down and for the first time in 15 years I had to take a train. I couldn’t wait to get out of the interview and talking myself down and out of the position. I quickly headed to Flinders Street station to catch a train back home. Standing on the platform waiting impatiently, I sensed a tremendous energy coming from the right of me; I looked over and didn’t see anyone. Again I felt a strange sense of energy even stronger this time and looked over again and saw a man walking toward me, limping slightly. I didn’t think much of it, until I felt this sensation behind me and then move to the left of me. I looked over and there was the same man standing beside me. He asked me for a light. I handed him a light. We looked at each other and I felt like I had known him my entire life. We started talking instantly, without any awkwardness between us. He told me that he hadn’t caught a train in years and was coming back from a consultation with doctors at the Epworth Hospital. He had injured his leg, and was catching the train, as he wasn’t allowed to drive for a while.
The Upfield train arrived and we both hopped on, we sat next to each other and talking like we had been friends for years. I had just started experimenting with crystals and gemstones and told him about my fondness for them, he excitedly told me he was a crystal healer and had been working with crystals for many years and offered to teach me more about them. I realised that I was almost home and asked him where he was getting off, he said ‘Moreland Station’, he lived in Fitzroy but was house sitting for his sister. My stop was Coburg, which was the next stop. We were both excited that we were living so close to each other and decided to meet up again. We exchanged numbers and parted. I was on a high for the rest of the day, and felt something move in me that I had never felt before.
His name was Kieran. He called me the next day and we decided to meet at the Brunswick Music Festival and just hang out. We drank, sang, danced and had our first kiss under a beautiful tree at the back of the Retreat Hotel in Brunswick. We never parted ways after that day. We moved in together the next day, 3 months later he proposed to me under the same tree we had our first kiss, 8 months later we had a beautiful daughter, 1 year later we were married.
Would we have met if my car had not broken down? Would we have met if Kieran was not house sitting for his sister in Moreland, as he lived in Fitzroy?”
And yes, people do still meet up under the clocks. I received this little story when enquiring about the wedding cake pictured below. Many thanks to Jane Winks from the shop Cake Passion for tracking down the story.
In 2002 David and I met at Flinders Street station. He was waiting for his friends and I was waiting for mine. I was quite confident so I went up to him and started a conversation.
On 22nd December 2010, David and I were at Flinders Street station in the same place we had met when he told me he loved me for the first time and he asked me to marry him.
He quickly followed this proposal by asking if he had to get down on one knee as it was quite busy and he was embarrassed (I said he didn’t have to).
We were married on 7th January 2012 and the theme for the wedding was Flinders Street.
However not all “Under the Clocks ” romances end sucessfully. Writer Karen Mackenzie sent in this reminiscence.
At age 22 in a writing class, I heard a man seated near me exclaim, “It’s you!”
I glanced around. The man was pointing at me.
“About four years ago,” he said. “You were waiting under the clocks at Flinders Street station, all dolled up. Obviously meeting a date. And I thought, wow, she’s gorgeous. Maybe I should stick around and see if her date stands her up. Hell, maybe I should just go say hello. But I figured you would think I was just some loser guy. So I didn’t say anything. Your image has haunted me. And here you are.”
Everyone in the class, including the teacher, looked from the man to me and back again, like we were tennis players. I couldn’t even remember the date he mentioned. But then, I’ve met a lot of people under the clocks at Flinders Street Station.
Not being someone strangers called gorgeous, I will always remember the event. And soon after, the man concerned asked me out on a date.
If this were fiction, this man and I would have fallen madly in love, but no… The one date was flat; the man concerned had a few too many problems… ah well. I still have the memory of that time when a man told me that my image at Flinders Street Station haunted him for years.”
Finally, I had to include this little paean of praise to the Station and the train system sent to us by Lousie Mapleston. It describes the ups and downs of the rocky relationship that a lot of Melbournians have with their daily commute.
My relationship with Myki, Metro and the MX
The Melbourne transport system is more than just a couple trains, trams or buses to me; we are much more intimate than that, I like to think of him as similar to my best friend or a boyfriend. Now before you start thinking “oh god she thinks the train is her boyfriend…what a crazy” hear me out. The MX will explain everything.
There are two schools of thought as to why a 20 year old would not have their driver’s license to transport them around Melbourne: a) they are environmentally and economically conscious b) They are too lazy to learn how to drive. I fall into both categories. And as a consequence of my decision (some could say lethargy) I ride around Melbourne on the fantastic public transport system known as Metro up to 7 days a week- frequenting the Frankston and Sandringham train lines as I commute from my house in Cheltenham to university, work, drama classes and social outings around inner city Melbourne. Sometimes I can spend up to 3 hours travelling on public transport around Melbourne, from one activity to the other, and have developed a delightfully queer relationship with the whole system.
Like anything you interact with every day there are bound to be a range of dynamics, similar to a romantic relationship; most of the time your boyfriend smells nice and is punctual but occasionally he really messes up and causes you so much grief that you miss appointments, are late to class or get so angry at him AND SCREAM like the crazy lady that you are. This is exactly how I feel about Metro. I recently lost my ninth Myki, yep, that lime green rectangle of pain who essentially acts as the gatekeeper of metropolitan travel. If you don’t have a Myki the MoPo (Metro Police) will issue you with an absurdly priced fine aimed to deter you from fare evading again. What will the carelessly clumsy like me do? I cannot keep on buying Mykis as my bank account won’t allow for it, I cannot continue to receive a fare evasion fines for the same principal and for some reason I cannot stop loosing Mykis. The other day I bought a Myki at North Melbourne train station and it had disappeared by the time I had waddled over to platform 2, so I went and bought another which disappeared 3 days later on the Frankston line somewhere.
So I spend a lot of money on Metro and most of the time come out feeling positive about the whole experience, kind of like going on a date- and thanks to the MX, metro has actually turned into a dating service for me too. Most readers will be familiar with the MX, the evening tabloid that circulates around train stations and public transport venues to give commuters a light hearted read for their journey home. In the MX there is a section called “here’s looking at you”, where random commuters write into the paper if they see or have a chat with someone on public transport that they think is pretty cute but may not have had the chance to ask out. Now without blowing my own trumpet I may have had 4 people write into the MX after me in one year, yes my head did just grow to the size of melon. Most of the time it is just creeps on the Frankston line looking to make some Frankston babies but I am sure there must be some relatively ‘normal’ relationships that have come out of the playful section.
I have met two close friends on public transport, been asked out for a date on a tram, been told that “You are hotter than my dead girlfriend” by a colourful druggie on the train and given a puppy on the 600 bus once. I love that Metro started recording Richmond station’s platform announcer for service announcement across the CBD because he sounds like a radio host. I love being surprised when a Frankston train comes early but secretly relying on it to be late so you can have that extra minute of sleep in the morning. I love the harsh MoPo who honestly think they hold the judicial powers of a police officer. And I am in love with the fantasy that somewhere out in the suburbs of Melbourne my mountain of Myki’s will accrue and be found by some other irresponsible license-less sod.”