Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

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Fawkner Club Hotel

 218 Toorak Road, South Yarra

Location

North-eastern corner of Toorak Road and Hope Street, South Yarra

Memories

Other than rumours that if you wandered in and dropped a baggy green Australian XI or a Qantas pilot's cap on the table, you had to beat the female customers off with a stick (and we'll leave that to your own imagination), I personally don't have any recollection of a Control Data link other than a couple of casual Saturday afternoons sessions with fellow employees.

That qualifies the Fawkner Club more for the "Play" section, but Ron Bird recalls it was in favour for a while in the mid 60s as one of the engineers of the time, Wally Cavill lived nearby in Hope Street.

Of the premises in the 70s, I most remember a large crowded courtyard consisting mostly of plastic - i.e. people (and occasional surgery) - the furniture and fittings were steel and glass!

History

The hotel went head-to-head with the Mount Erica to be the oldest in our archives.

The original name was the South Melbourne Hotel, the premises first referenced in April, 1853 when a license application from a William Stevenson was refused on the grounds that "the house is not required". Undeterred, Stephenson tried again in September, the application this time suggesting the site as "on the south side of the Yarra, near the Botanical Gardens", again refused.

At some time over the next few months, the license must have been granter but Stevenson's worries were far from over - in March of the following year, he was brought before the Supreme Court (where he was noted as man "of considerable means") on a charge of slander after he refused to honour a bill for £300 drawn on a Melbourne merchant named Pye, claiming the signature on the acceptance had been forged. Despite being "of considerable means", Stevenson claimed his was almost illiterate and "could barely sign his own name"; he was ordered to pay Pye £400, a long way short of the £5000 claim.

The hotel at that stage was listed in Gardiner's Creek Road, South Melbourne [1].  Gardiner's Creek Road  was renamed as Toorak Road in the early 1870s.

The hotel was advertised for sale in January, 1855, "... with 5½ acres of rich market garden land, stables, out-offices, &c., within one mile of Prince's Bridge and ten chains of the junction of the St. Kilda Road ... the hotel stands on a frontage of 70 feet to Gardiner's Creek Road ... built of the best bricks ... an extensive and well-arranged bar, with bedroom off the bar, 3 large parlours and a cool cellar ... on the upper level will be found a large withdrawing room and five best bedrooms ... detached kitchen, servant's quarters, stabling for eight horses, hay loft, fowl house, piggeries, water closets and a fine well-cropped garden of one acre".

Up until 1884, the hotel was usually referred to as being in South Melbourne, the area that we now know by that name then officially Emerald Hill.  Perhaps a little sadly, the original names of Emerald Hill and its neighbour to the north, Sandridge were changed that year to the rather humdrum South and Port Melbourne in that year.

The South Melbourne Hotel adopted the more appropriate name of the Fawkner Club from October, 1887.

Although no detailed description of the hearing remains, the hotel was lucky to escape the Licensing Reductions Board of 1926, where, despite its relative isolation from other hotels, both the Fawkner Club and the Royal Domain (Athol's Abbey) were described by the police witness Inspector Keevil as "unnecessary" with a recommendation that both premises be de-licensed.

The Fawkner Club survived, however, and like the Royal Domain certainly would have been substantially renovated and expandedif not totally rebuilt around that time.

Today

Around the early years of this century, the Fawkner Club closed its doors for the last time and was converted into apartments.

Not sure about the water closets, but definitely no sign of a hay loft, fowl house or piggeries!


[1] From John Gardiner, one of the first overlanders from New South Wales,  in 1836. Gardiner was the first settler to live and build in Hawthorn ;his house was on the river bank very near the present Scotch College. South Yarra Railway Station opened in 1860 as Gardiner's Creek Station and was renamed in 1867.


Probably late 70s - the image is ordinary, but the hotel itself seems in surprisingly poor condition with surface cracking along the face.  Below as today with the new apartments just showing along Hope Street.