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On Wednesday the 26th of May, a group of history buffs with canes & guide dogs in toe, hit the city for one of Melbourne Historical Crime Tours’ most interesting tours, called ‘Gangsters, Brothels & Lolly Shops’, led by local historian Michael Shelford.
The tour focused on ‘Little Lon’, a precinct around Melbourne’s QV building, Wesley church grounds and nearby Chinatown. This area was known as ‘The Slums’, where rowdy soldiers drank ‘sly grog’, a surplus of illegal brothels existed behind a lolly shop veneer, illegitimate children played in laneways, and plain clothes police turned a blind eye to crime. It was also an interesting time when many Chinese migrated to become furniture makers, alongside a vast number of Jewish settlers.
Some highlights from the tour included seeing the 1859 Jewish Synagogue, the last remaining single-story terrace which is now a gin distillery, gangster Squizzy Taylor’s house that he shared with wife Dolly Grey, and surprisingly, a real-life archaeological dig that is uncovering crockery, wash pots and porcelain dolls from the 1800s.
A big thanks to Michael Shelford from Melbourne Historical Crime Tours for bringing these stories and the characters to life.
This tour was made possible thanks to the support of the City of Melbourne.