COFFEE @ Carter Smith Devlin & Co – WILLIAMSTOWN 3016.
I love it when a fit-out brings freshness to really old elements. The interior of Carter Smith Devlin & Co. in Williamstown feels like lots of care has gone into paring back layers of inappropriate renovations from over the decades, to reveal the raw original personality.
Inside, the café is divided into one half for the very open plan barista space and another for the dining area. The rough-hewn brick walls are clearly 19th century and laid without any pretence of perfection. About six courses of bricks have been knocked out to create the kitchen pass through which food magically appears, to the delight of hungry customers.
Wooden pallets have been repurposed and stacked to create the café’s counter. Choose from communal seating on stools at long high benches or smaller setups with tables and chairs. The exposed brickwork and painted pressed metal ceilings are defining features from the past, complemented by modern elements including the polished concrete floor and pendant lighting. The use of brass fittings and industrial pipes adds up-to-the-minute industrial accents.
Probably Williamstown’s trendiest café, Carter Smith Devlin & Co. is a relaxed and friendly place to sit and gaze out the large windows to the streetscape and beyond. I found the service to be good and thoroughly enjoyed my decadent muffin.
NOW & THEN around Williamstown, Melbourne
In 1803, Acting-Lieutenant Charles Robbins and his party were the first Europeans to arrive in the area. It was initially considered a contender for the new colony’s capital but lacking in fresh water, was overlooked in favour of what is now Melbourne.
Thanks to its deep harbour, Williamstown was selected as the port for the major city and properly settled in 1835 when the first shipment of thousands of head of livestock were unloaded at the docks. Originally known as Port Harwood, Williamstown was officially named in 1837 after King William IV who was the reigning monarch at the time of discovery.
Settlement occurred in earnest once the town’s main streets were constructed and planning had begun. The first land sales were recorded to have been transacted in 1837 and, once convicts had constructed the stone jetty at Gem Pier in 1838, a ferry service connecting Williamstown with Melbourne facilitated civilisation in the area.
With the commencement of the Gold Rush, the port balanced its bustling maritime activities with sustaining the huge immigrant influx. Numerous shops, a bank, railway service, lighthouse, church, public gardens and no less than twenty-seven hotels sprang up. By 1903, the population had reached approximately 15,000, and the number of hotels had grown to forty, dwindling back to twenty by the 1950s.
Ultimately, by the 1960s, Williamstown had well and truly passed its prime and had become a run-down industrialised centre. Now, in the 21st century, the area is undergoing revitalisation. Now a thriving tourist area, it continues to retain the coherence and charm of a maritime village. While many of the old buildings had been abandoned or allowed to deteriorate even while in use, they are now being transformed according to heritage regulations, if partly infused with modern day aesthetics.
A photographic record of my visit to Williamstown
Adapting heritage buildings to meet current day needs usually requires some element of new work, which of course, also has to comply with strict heritage regulations. The following examples illustrate how refurbishment can incorporate those new elements while still remaining faithful to the historic character of an older building and the surrounding streetscape.
Ferguson Street is a main thoroughfare, and contains many individually significant buildings as well as groups of buildings that date from the key periods of development during the late nineteenth and early to mid twentieth century. A heritage impact report may be required by regulatory authorities to assess the impacts of future proposals on the significance of the Ferguson Street streetscape.
The residential areas of Williamstown, particularly on the south side of the peninsula, are dominated by beautiful intact Victorian-style dwellings. Below are a few interesting examples of modern additions that have been constructed behind original residential buildings.
Williamstown falls within the local government area of Hobsons Bay City Council. You can find information and guidelines about altering, restoring and developing buildings in Williamstown on the Hobsons Bay City Council website.
eMelbourne – The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online
Hobsons Bay City Council website
Visit Williamstown website