The creation of a successful public place considers the process of shaping the physical space and creating a place for people – a place that has meaning, identity and considers the social, cultural and economics of that place. It is with this ethos in mind that has inspired the design of many of the retail precincts in the City of Whitehorse, bringing their history to life.
The Mitcham Shopping Centre Precinct is particularly important to Whitehorse City Council, as it functions as a transport hub bringing many visitors into Mitcham. It also functions as a destination for local shoppers and those visiting the neighbouring Mega Mile Precinct.
Whitehorse City Council has committed to upgrading the Mitcham Shopping Centre Precinct Streetscape, and in recent years has completed several stages of works on both the north and south sides of Whitehorse Road. Stage 4 of the works between McDowall and Doncaster East Road is the latest stage to have been completed delivering an improved car parking layout and a full streetscape upgrade.
The elements included within the streetscape reflect a historical reference to the local industry and its contribution to the development of Mitcham as we know it today.
The design team drew upon the products historically manufactured by The Australian Tesselated* Tile Company. Their hexagonal shapes and patterned tile plates provided inspiration for the design of the paving layout, the pedestrian fencing in Whitehorse Road, and the furniture in Station Street.
When grouped together, the furniture shows a series of patterns, which in turn provides colour and interest within the streetscape. The specific tesselations within the seating is similar to the patterns that would have been built into the Victorian era verandas of the time. The mixed brown granite paving used within the streetscape represents the traditional hexagonal terracotta tiles and glazed blue tiles that were produced by the company. Today, as terracotta tiles are no longer produced as a standard product, granite has been substituted to represent this element.
Whitehorse City Council is committed to renewing and enhancing streetscapes throughout Whitehorse to encourage local trade, economic activity and provide the community with improved retail shopping experiences.
* The spelling of tesselated in the ATTC company name differs from the accepted spelling of tessellated.
The Australian Tesselated Tile Company
The Australian Tesselated* Tile Company (ATTC) occupied land south of the Mitcham Station. The tile works and quarries extended from Mitcham Road, the railway line, Rooks Road and Lucknow Street.
Managed by the Walker family, the factory began producing bricks and agricultural pipes in 1886, but became better known for its decorative tessellated tiles, which featured in many homes and public buildings. Notable buildings tiled by the Company include Flinders Street Station, St Kilda Boer War Memorial Roll and Brunswick Town Hall Honour Roll.
Mitcham, to the locals was known as ‘Walkerville’. The township’s labour force was heavily comprised of company employees with approximately 350 locals hired by the ATTC. Not surprisingly, on the day of the annual tile works’ picnic, not a soul was to be seen in Mitcham.
Edgar ‘Jimmy’ Walker, Governing Director until his death in 1936 was closely involved with the Mitcham community and became something of a local identity. He was the first telephone subscriber in the area and owned the first motor car. Walker served the Mitcham community as a Councillor on the Nunawading Shire Council from 1892 to 1899 and again from 1902 to 1916, serving two terms as Shire President.
He was a trustee of the Methodist Church and a strong supporter, and one-time President of the Mitcham Football Club. In 1910 Edgar donated the land now known as Walker Park, the home of the Football Club to the Shire of Nunawading. ATTC continued after Walker’s death, although business declined after World War II, with Rocla Industries Ltd acquiring the company in 1960.