Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

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Beaconsfield Hotel

341 Beaconsfield Parade, St'Kilda

Location

South-eastern corner of Beaconsfield Parade and Cowderoy Street, St. Kilda

Memories

I'm not sure whether the Beaconsfield really belongs, but I remember that just after I left Control Data there was a move away from the College Lawn, brokered in part I think by John Hill, whose family may have been involved in some way.  I can remember a couple of nights there when we used a bar off Cowderoy Street, but not whether it really took off.

I can also remember a lunch or two there, but I wouldn't rate it as a major eatery in the overall picture.

History

Like the Esplanade, Hotel Victoria and lesser extent Bleak House, the Beaconsfield was built to attract tourists and visitors the pleasures of the Bay and the baths that were once dotted along the South Melbourne and St. Kilda foreshores.

The hotel was designed by architect William Pitt and first licensed by James F. Hay, probably in 1879 (the hotel first shows in directories in 1880).  

The construction of the hotel was a brave move - the section of today's Beaconsfield Parade between Sandridge (Port Melbourne) and St. Kilda, then referred to as the Sandridge Military Road commenced in the autumn of 1879 but wasn't completed until the end of 1881, the embankment of the railway loop in the Albert Park Reserve mentioned in Charlton (598 St Kilda Road) dismantled and used for filling parts of what was then the Western Swamp.

The original design is believed to have been a single storey open colonnade between the two towers with the second level was added a few years later.  

Records show that the hotel was constructed on two vacant blocks of land on behalf of William Vail, a Melbourne tailor at a cost of £4,033; Vail was declared insolvent the following year, quoting the cost of mortgages on the hotel as one of the reasons for his difficulties.

Although not under any real threat from the License Reductions Board, the building was extensively altered and extended in 1927 by the architect Harry R Johnson.  It was probably at this stage that the original open colonnade across the front was enclosed to extend the hotel, otherwise it varies little from the original design

Today

Perhaps unfairly remembered today as the venue of the tragic death of cricketer David Hookes, the Beaconsfield has retained its name and functions as a traditional hotel, featuring weekly comedy nights and musical entertainment.


Beaconsfield Hotel, circa 1891 (below) 1890s postcard promoting the Beaconsfield Hotel, the colonnade opening onto the street (bottom) Beaconsfield Hotel today, the colonnade enclosed and now part of (I think) the main dining area