Melbourne Market moved to its current location off Cooper St in Epping at the end of August 2015.
A wholesale market has been in existence almost as long as the city of Melbourne, originally being located in the centre of the city.
The first official fruit and vegetable market was the Western Market – established in December 1841, a mere six years after the Port Phillip settlement – on a site bounded by Market, Collins and William Streets, and Flinders Lane. The Western Market traded for 90 years. It started as a general market but gradually grew into a wholesale market.
As the city developed, the Eastern Market at Bourke and Exhibition Streets opened as a general market in 1847, gradually attracting market gardeners and fruit merchants.
Extra facilities were built and 224 stands were let to market gardeners, fruit agents and dealers. In the early 1860s it was estimated that more than 1,000 growers used the market at one time during the year.
Eventually both Eastern and Western Market businesses were largely absorbed into the Queen Victoria Market which became the hub for Victoria’s wholesale and retail fruit and vegetable industry.
By the 1960s, due to the growth in the industry and changes in transport and refrigeration requirements, the Queen Victoria site could no longer accommodate both wholesale and retail functions and a decision was made to move wholesale trading to Footscray Road, West Melbourne (previously a swamp area) and build a new market to meet the needs of the industry.
The Queen Victoria Market continued to develop as a retail market and over the years has become one of Melbourne’s famous retail icons.
From 1842 to 1978 the City of Melbourne controlled and managed all the markets. In 1978 the Wholesale Market passed into the control of a Market Trust. In 1993 the Melbourne Market Authority was established to take over from the Trust and to manage the Footscray Road site. The Melbourne Market Authority comprises a five member Board appointed by the Governor-in-Council under the provisions of the Melbourne Market Authority Act 1977. The Board is supported by a complement of staff who manage the site on a daily basis.
The wholesale market at the Footscray Road, West Melbourne site was officially opened by then Victorian Premier Sir Henry Bolte on October 30, 1969. Trading started in December that year. In April 1996 the National Flower Centre (NFC) was established. Up until then, flowers had been traded casually in the fruit and vegetable market on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturday mornings. The development of the NFC enabled flower growers to have permanent stands with coolrooms, so that flowers could be maintained in good condition.
In 2004, the Victorian Government announced plans to construct a new Market at Epping. Following extensive consultation, the Market opened on 31 August 2015. The move to Epping is another significant step in the rich history of Melbourne’s wholesale market.