Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Casa de Manana

384 St. Kilda Road, Melbourne

Location

North-eastern corner of St. Kilda Road and Park Street, Melbourne

Memories

The main bar was on the corner, Control Data never used it, but Mike Spark will confirm it was aka as "Honeywell Head Office", and I remember a couple of visits there pre-joining Control Data. Tony Bell suggests it was also a regular for engineers at the T.A.B.

History

The Royal Domain Hotel opened in 1874, being first shown in the 1875 directory as on the corner of Albert Road and Park Streets.

The location appears impossible by today’s geography, but at the time the hotel opened, the section of St. Kilda Road from today’s Park Street corner to perhaps 75 metres north was considered Albert Road.  

The original publican was William Prosser, but like several proprietors of new hotels, he lasted just one year before handing over to a long-term operator in Anthony Rivers who was shown as the host for 14 of the next 15 years until his death in September, 1890 at 63 years of age, his widow Louisa taking over for two years before transferring the hotel to Thomas Strickland.

Although not reported in the daily press, a database of coronal enquiries reveals that Rivers’ death was attributed to a fall from a building – whether this was the hotel and the circumstances are sadly unknown.  He left a sizeable estate valued at £5,033, his widow later running the hotel as Mrs Strickland after she married the new licensee in 1892.

The hotel was advertised for sale in 1906, the land 40 feet to St. Kilda Road and 100 feet along Park Street, two-story brick, three parlours, six bedrooms, kitchen and offices, let at £6 per week.

No mention was made of the condition of the hotel, but some twenty years later at the 1926 License Reductions Board hearings, Inspector Brown testified it “was the worst he had inspected” and that he did not think the hotel necessary for any purposes and that it should be the sixth hotel in the area to go   He also added that the nearby Fawkner Hotel in Toorak Road was also not needed,

However, in the real estate world, the usual catch-cry is “Location! Location!” and thus  proved the hotel’s saviour (remarkably, it was the only licensed hotel in St. Kilda Road until 1954 when the Chevron, previously a private residential hotel, took out a licence, seemingly against their will).

The hotel survived after counsel for the deceased owner's widow (Mrs A. Michael) suggested she was a life tenant at the hotel and that she had plans to rebuild the hotel after Probate was granted; the new structure to be a three storied building and construction to commence at the end of the year when the current lease expired.  

 Today

The Swingin’ Sixties saw the hotel become La Casa de Manana (invariably, "Case of Bananas"), although by the time it closed in 1986 for office redevelopment, it had reverted to the Royal Domain.

The site is now a multi-storied glass tower extending further down Park Street to Wells Street- the current complex retains the Royal Domain name per the corner entrance pictured above.