There may have been a time when living right next to a railway line bespoke glamour and status.
But mostly I associate railways lines, in cities and towns around the world, with being living territory for the blue collar and the poor – or poorer.
Bellair Street in Kensington, between Racecourse Road and through to Macaulay Road, is an exception.
Yes, it runs parallel with the railway line – but the wide road, lovely trees and many gorgeous houses have quite some elegance and a well-to-do feel about them.
Walking from one end to the other, I spied just two buildings that seemed to be of a more contemporary, post-World War II style.
First up at the Racecourse Road end is a building emblazoned with the words “CHILD WELFARE CENTRE”.
These days it serves as the HQ for a legal service.
The staff tell me it served its original purpose rather briefly and that there was other sort of business there before the arrival of their service.
Next door is the town hall, which I’m told served originally both Kensington and Moonee Ponds.
These days, it’s a service outpost of Melbourne council, a venue for hire and home to Kensington market.
The majority of houses on this stretch of Bellair are elevated, single-fronted Victorians.
Mostly they display ample evidence of being well loved – but not always.
Mind you, there are a couple of grander abodes.
Further towards Macaulay is a group of three buildings that seem older than their neighbours.
They have the sort “crammed in” look I associate more with some parts of Carlton close to the CBD than I do with the western suburbs.
This stretch of Bellair is dominated by two grand, large, two-storey buildings.
The brick one appears to have not changed for many years.
All the windows are blocked with blinds and the like.
It has a boarding house vibe about it.
The locals I talk with find it as mysterious as do I.
Like the old, towering bank a little further along, the brick edifice appears to have facilities at the rear for horses and/or servants.
Not necessarily in that order …
I recall that about a decade ago, there appeared to be some revamp/renovation activity pending at the old bank.
These days, it looks well kept but devoid of life.
But I suspect looks, in this case, are misleading.
The popular cafe/shop end of Bellair these days boasts two new arrivals …
… a barbershop and …
… and a Turkish bakery/cake shop.
CTS spends much time eating on Racecourse Road.
Consequently, we’ve also spent a lot of time cruising the back streets around there looking for viable parking spots that won’t cost us a ticket.
It’s only recently I’ve realised – hooray! – there is invariably plenty of parking just around the corner, on Bellair and right adjacent the town hall.
But instead of always driving down Bellair, I’m glad to have walked it, camera in hand.
It’s certainly one of our more notable thoroughfares.