New life for the Blood Brothers’ Store

Feature Image: Former Blood Brothers Store, Ringwood c.1921. Source: Ringwood and District Historical Society

In late July this year, the Maroondah City Council approved a planning permit for the former Blood Brothers’ Store at 1 Bedford Rd, Ringwood, that allows for the relocation of the Blood Brothers’ Store and the construction of a multi-level carpark. The National Trust have been advocating for the retention of the building in the face of demolition to make way for a federally-funded carpark next to Ringwood Railway Station since 2020.

Over the past few years, we have consulted with Maroondah Council alongside the Ringwood District Historical Society and the Jubilee Park Residents Group to ensure the building is retained and its social significance acknowledged and interpreted.

The former Blood Brothers’ Store was built c.1914 and is an intact corner store that has been in continued use as a retail store throughout its lifetime. It is representative of the regional origins of Ringwood and is an example of its Edwardian roots. Architecturally, it is a locally rare and relatively impact example of a rural Edwardian corner store. It retains a number of key features including the iconic green ceramic tiles at the front of the store reading ‘Blood Bros’. Socially, the site is significant as a well known and valued landmark within the community and has contributed to the sense of identity in Ringwood throughout the decades.

Image: Render of 2020 plans for the Blood Brothers Store site including complete demolition of the heritage building. Source: Maroondah City Council

In 2020, the initial plans proposed by council for the corner site included the complete demolition of the former Blood Brothers Store to facilitate the site’s new use as a multi-level carpark. The National Trust supported the community’s concerns that the decision to demolish the heritage building at this time had been made without an appropriate heritage assessment of the site, and that the location was pre-determined prior to exploring all possibilities for retention of the store.

Following this strong response from the community, the Maroondah City Council commissioned a new heritage assessment and began to explore options that did not involve complete demolition of the Blood Brothers’ Store.

Image: Render of the 2023 plan for the Blood Brothers Store site including new location for the heritage building. Source: Maroondah City Council

The National Trust, along with the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, the Ringwood District Historical Society and the Jubilee Park Residents Group, were invited back for further consultation in 2023 which included a new configuration of the site to allow for the retention of the Blood Brothers’ store and the development of the multi-level carpark. Primarily, this required the relocation of the heritage building to a different corner of the triangular-shaped 1 Bedford Rd, to necessitate appropriate access to the carpark. This relocation will be done with heritage specialists who can move the building in one piece and without damage to the heritage fabric.

Image: Aerial view showing the Blood Brothers Store site, including highlighted proposed demolition to return the store to its original form. Source: VicPlan

While the requirement to move the building is not an ideal heritage outcome, it was argued there is no alternative without demolishing the building. In this case, the National Trust is generally supportive of the proposal to relocate the Blood Brothers Store fully intact. While there are no details available yet regarding how the Blood Brothers store will be used in its new location, it is planned to be used for the benefit of the community. The site will be returned to its original footprint in the new location, with modern additions to be demolished, and the key heritage features reinstated. Such as the replacement of the bullnose verandah with its original counterpart and the conservation of the “Blood Brothers” green tiles sign at the front of the building.

No objections were received regarding the relocation of the building during the public submission for the final planning permit. Relocation works are planned to begin in early 2024.

Although the site will fundamentally change and will be dominated by a multi-level carpark, a significant heritage building that formed the foundation of the early Ringwood community has been saved from certain demolition and will now have a new life and purpose for the community that it serves.

We thank the Ringwood District Historical Society and the Jubilee Park Residents Group for their collaboration with the National Trust to ensure this important local building is protected.

Read the National Trust submission here.

Access further updates on this development from Maroondah Council here.

Image: Blood Brothers Store 1987. Source: Ringwood and District Historical Society

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