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175 years of food, fun and funk­i­nesss St Kilda iden­tity and RocKwiz host, Brian Nankervis, will launch Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda by award­win­ning his­to­rian, Dr Ju­dith Buck­rich, at 6pm, Thurs­day 23 Novem­ber at the St Kilda Army & Navy Club, 88 Acland Street, St Kilda.

The lav­ishly-il­lus­trated, hard­cover book ex­plores the his­tory of Acland Street since it be­came St Kilda's first named street in 1842, tak­ing its name from Thomas Dyce Acland, the owner of the schooner Lady of St Kilda which gave its name to the sub­urb.

“The for­tunes of Acland Street have ebbed and waned along with St Kilda's,” Dr Buck­rich said. “They grew rapidly dur­ing the Gold Rushes and the boom that fol­lowed, dipped in the 1890s' de­pres­sion, rose again af­ter World War 1, fell cat­a­stroph­i­cally in the Great De­pres­sion, and started to climb again in the 1980s. It's been home to the wealthy and the poor, to Jews escaping Nazism, and to a mot­ley of mu­si­cians, artists, gays, sex work­ers and rad­i­cals. It is a place where the rich and down-and-out, re­spectable and dis­rep­utable, high­brow and low­brow, have al­ways jos­tled for space and dom­i­nance.”

Dr Buck­rich said that there's hardly a Mel­bur­nian who hasn't been to Acland Street.

“Acland Street has a spe­cial place in this city's heart – and its col­lec­tive mem­ory. So many of the hun­dreds of peo­ple I have met and cor­re­sponded with over the course of writ­ing the his­tory love Acland Street with a pas­sion that I have never heard ex­pressed for any other place. Not the un­pleas­ant pas­sion of na­tion­al­ism, but the ten­der feel­ing for some­where that has given great joy and pas­sion,” she said. “Acland Street can also claim to have a place in the af­fec­tions of peo­ple all over Aus­tralia – if they have ever been to Mel­bourne, it's odds on that they've been to Acland Street to sam­ple its con­ti­nen­tal cakes, cafes, art gal­leries, live mu­sic and ‘vibe', be­fore or af­ter a visit to the beach, Luna Park, or the Es­planade Art and Craft Mar­ket.”

Acland Street has wit­nessed many firsts that are not widely known, Dr Buck­rich said.

“Acland Street was home to Aus­tralia's first of­fi­cial LGBTI or­gan­i­sa­tion, the Daugh­ters of Bili­tis, in 1969. In 1993 had the first cen­tre for peo­ple with HIV/AIDS, and in 1995 boasted the first in­ter­net café in Aus­tralia. With its unique com­bi­na­tion of eth­nic, sex­ual and cul­tural life, cheap but glo­ri­ously de­cay­ing flats and board­ing houses, and nu­mer­ous mu­sic venues and ex­cel­lent pub­lic trans­port, the street was, for a while, the most dy­namic of any in Mel­bourne,” she said. “Its prox­im­ity to the beach and the en­ter­tain­ments of The Es­planade proved a ro­man­tic, if world-weary, set­ting for baby boomer in­hab­i­tants liv­ing the new and wilder life of the 1960s-1980s.”

Re­search­ing and writ­ing the his­tory has been a very per­sonal project for Dr Buck­rich who fled Hun­gary with Com­mu­nist fa­ther and Jewish mother in 1958, fol­low­ing the aborted 1956 up­ris­ing.

Over the past 175 years, Acland Street has been home to many ex­tra­or­di­nary peo­ple in­clud­ing Henry Jen­nings, lawyer and phi­lan­thropist who, in 1860, held out on be­half of the Wu­rund­jeri peo­ple at Co­ran­derrk near Healesville against mem­bers of the Board of Pro­tec­tion for Abo­rig­ines, Dr Buck­rich said.

Dr Buck­rich has made her liv­ing from writ­ing plays and his­to­ries and ex­plores her life in her re­cently pub­lished mem­oir, The Po­lit­i­cal is Per­sonal. She has writ­ten his­to­ries of St Kilda Road, Collins Street, the Port of Mel­bourne, Mon­te­fiore Homes, the Royal Vic­to­rian In­sti­tute of the Blind, Prahran Tech, and Mel­bourne Univer­sity Boat Club. Her his­tory of Rip­pon­lea Vil­lage won the 2016 Vic­to­rian Com­mu­nity His­tory Awards Lo­cal His­tory – Small Pub­li­ca­tion Award.

Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda is pub­lished by the Australian Teachers of Me­dia Inc. (ATOM), a non-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion whose ed­i­tor is af­fil­i­ated with the St Kilda His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety. To fund pub­li­ca­tion, it set up a poz­i­ble crowd fund­ing cam­paign.

Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda by Ju­dith Buck­rich (ATOM, 2017). RRP. $50.00 ISBN: 978 76061 066 1

To pur­chase Acland Street: The Grand Lady of St Kilda: http://thee­d­u­ca­tion­shop.com.au/books/acland-street-the-grand-lady-ofst-kilda-de­liv­ered/

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