Museum Victoria Home Marvellous Melbourne
Home Early Days Gold Rush Town 1880s Boom Powered City City of Contrasts Postwar City

Cast Iron - a City Dressed in Lace

Melbourne has more decorative cast iron than any other city in the world. By the 1880s it symbolised the city's brash image virtually every new balcony and verandah was draped in an 'iron petticoat'.

John Ruskin, a noted English architecture critic, derided cast iron as 'cheap and vulgar'. Melbourne could not have cared less. Over 40 local foundries were kept busy, melting and casting pig-iron bars that arrived as ship's ballast. By 1900, the foundries had registered 161 different designs.


Cast iron decoration
magnifyCast iron decoration
© Museum Victoria Australia