Rotten Row

Port Heritage Trail - Site 10 

Melbourne Harbor Trust timber wharves

In 1889, to reduce the risk of fire, the Melbourne Harbor Trust relocated its timber stores and wharves to this site from their inner city location. 

During the late 19th century, the Melbourne Harbor Trust stockpiled timber for use in building and repairing wharves and piles and for the local building industry. The timber stores were close to the city, a fire risk, which could result not only in the loss of the timber but also destruction of the surrounding industries. 

This site opposite Yarraville was considered suitable for building new timber stores. In 1885, the Chief Engineer received instructions from the Works, Dredging and Stores Committee to prepare plans to build timber wharves and associated structures. 

The state government handed over ownership of the land to the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1889. A contract to build six jetties and 1100 feet (335 metres) of wharves was awarded to Messrs H MacKenzie.

Timber wharves

Timber wharves (undated) (Source: Footscray Historical Society)

Industry collapse

Moats were to be built at the rear of the wharves to reduce the spread of potential fires. But the timber industry collapsed before they could be built, and the site became known as ‘Rotten Row’ or ‘Siberia’ – a mooring place for abandoned or derelict ships.

A ship breakers’ yard, owned by Mr Wheeland, is also thought to have operated from this site and an unidentified shipwreck (now covered) could have been associated with either of these operations.

The remnant timber piles are all that remain of this once expansive structure.

Port Heritage Trail - Site 10 

Melbourne Harbor Trust timber wharves

In 1889, to reduce the risk of fire, the Melbourne Harbor Trust relocated its timber stores and wharves to this site from their inner city location. 

During the late 19th century, the Melbourne Harbor Trust stockpiled timber for use in building and repairing wharves and piles and for the local building industry. The timber stores were close to the city, a fire risk, which could result not only in the loss of the timber but also destruction of the surrounding industries. 

This site opposite Yarraville was considered suitable for building new timber stores. In 1885, the Chief Engineer received instructions from the Works, Dredging and Stores Committee to prepare plans to build timber wharves and associated structures. 

The state government handed over ownership of the land to the Melbourne Harbor Trust in 1889. A contract to build six jetties and 1100 feet (335 metres) of wharves was awarded to Messrs H MacKenzie.

Timber wharves

Timber wharves (undated) (Source: Footscray Historical Society)

Industry collapse

Moats were to be built at the rear of the wharves to reduce the spread of potential fires. But the timber industry collapsed before they could be built, and the site became known as ‘Rotten Row’ or ‘Siberia’ – a mooring place for abandoned or derelict ships.

A ship breakers’ yard, owned by Mr Wheeland, is also thought to have operated from this site and an unidentified shipwreck (now covered) could have been associated with either of these operations.

The remnant timber piles are all that remain of this once expansive structure.