The Peter Lalor Family Co-operative

Lalor history mural at Lalor
Contributed by Glen

In the years following the end of World War 2, the suburb of Lalor was built in the North of Melbourne. Nowadays we regularly read of the housing stress affecting many Australians. So, let us have a quick look how these folks tackled their housing crisis.

The Peter Lalor Family Co-operative was established to meet the housing needs of people in the post-World War 2 reconstruction of Melbourne.

Their plan for the new suburb they named Lalor was 1200 homes, three shopping centres, a picture theatre, a hotel with a beer garden, a community centre, including a public hall, as well as a library and a maternal health centre.

This work took place in Thomastown, now lending south of the border of the new suburb. The first house was built at 400 Station Street.

In the words of one of its founders, Leo Purcell, “we called it the Peter Lalor Family Co-operative Society because Peter Lalor was a pioneer of a better way of life in the 1850’s and that’s what we are trying to do for the people of the 1940’s.”

The Peter Lalor Family Cooperative became better known as the Peter Lalor Home Building Co-operative.

We know Peter Lalor as the leader of the Diggers at the Eureka Stockade in 1854. He was born in Raheen, County Loais, Ireland in 1827. The Lalor family were proud Irish, a family well known for their desires to once again create an Ireland free from the yoke of the English invaders.

Peter Lalor was active in the Young Ireland Movement of 1848. His brother James Finton Lalor was one of their leaders. Following the uprising of 1848, Peter Lalor immigrated to Australia, in search of a better life. He found his fame, but not so much fortune on the fields of Eureka. Then in later life became a conservative politician.

It is now more than 70 years since the birth of Lalor. It would be nice to reflect on the hard work and resilience of those who built this suburb, aiming to create affordable housing for many people.

It would also be good to think about, the ideas of co-operative housing to tackle the housing crisis in Australia. Is it a way forward in 2017?

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