Heidelberg Historical Society

The Centre of Heidelberg?

Posted on Monday, 4th January 2021 by Janine Rizzetti

from our Facebook page November 26, 2020

The Centre of Heidelberg? It seems rather strange, but this vacant block of land on the corner of Cape Street and Burgundy Street could be said to have once been the community centre of Heidelberg!

It was owned by Mrs Alice Davey (whose family also owned a butcher’s shop in Heidelberg) and it was there that people gathered informally to celebrate public events. Fetes, fairs and especially bonfires on Empire Day and Guy Fawkes Day all took place on this vacant block. When the circus came to town, it set up here. At the end of World War I, there was an impromptu barbecue held on the site, complete with a spit roast, to celebrate the end of the war.

It’s interesting to see the ‘desire line’ (i.e. an informal path that people make by taking short-cuts) that crosses the block. A short-cut to the Old England perhaps? Or perhaps school children made the path walking up to St John’s Primary and Our Lady’s? You can also see Clinton’s garage - with whom Mrs Davey also had a family connection- beside the block, facing onto Burgundy Street. The vacant block was known colloquially as “Clinton’s Paddock”.

This block remained vacant until sometime between 1955 and 1960, when shops, offices and a service station were constructed on the site. Burgundy Plaza, which stands there today, was sold in November 2017 for $14.4 million. We probably all know what will happen next.

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