Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

#top

Glenhope (aka Eton Square)

474-76 St. Kilda Road

From the few short histories that have been compiled on Control Data Australia, we know the the local subsidiary was formed on 17 May, 1963 and commenced operations from Suite 16, 474 St. Kilda Road  (later also 17 and 18, the latter shared with Rickards and Rickards, the solicitors mentioned in the 1964 directory below).

More specifically, 474 was the northern section of Eton Square, a block of two-story red brick flats that also incorporated 476 St. Kilda Road (the site is now occupied by two separate buildings).

Eton Square was constructed in 1937 and advertised from November of that year as "ultra modern new flats and maisonettes, own entrance and yards".

Eton Square (along with many similar buildings of modest architectural merit in St. Kilda and Queen's Roads) came after the demolition of "Glenhope", one of the many grand mansions that lined the roads, at one stage drawing comparisons with some of the finest boulevards in Europe and England.

"A block of flats" may not do justice to the building of the time (most of the advertising directed potential buyers to an address at 9 Leopold Street, South Yarra - Leopold Street appears to have then extended across St. Kilda Road, the eastern section now Armadale Street).

A "maisonette" is defined as an apartment extending over two or more floors of a building - many of the early advertisements refer to maisonettes in Eton Square being of six rooms (typically, lounge, dining and four bedrooms) with a private entrance and own yard; the flats of four rooms with similar amenities but obviously just two bedrooms.

Advertisements suggest that tenants were very much families, one in 1940 seeking a girl "to cook and clean, good home" at 16 Eton Square (the unit originally occupied by CDA), while there are several others looking for domestic help, often on a "live-in" basis.

We can, however, throw some additional light on the site during Control Data's tenancy.

At that time, the 1940’s cook and cleaner had departed and the site was occupied as professional offices and suites, but Eton Square remained purely residential until 1961, when The Sun in January reported :

£90,000 FOR ST. KILDA ROAD BUILDING

"The Victorian Property and Building Trust has bought the building at 474 St. Kilda Road for about £90,000.

"The building consists of 10 flats or maisonettes and adjoins 476 St. Kilda Road which was bought recently for around the same price.

"The two buildings are the southern and northern wings of Eton Square. The site is 200 by 250 feet.  "The whole of the building will be let as offices and professional suites. The sale was arrange by K. L. Dowling & Co. Pty Ltd in conjunction with Mr. Laurence J Day of Ascot Vale".

 

One of several "notices appearing in February, 1927 advertising the sale of "Glenhope". From what can be traced, the 1961 sales which saw Eton Square converted to commercial use were arrange privately and no advertisement of the property has been sighted.

[Top]

Control Data Australia times

Control Data Australia was incorporated in 17 May, 1963 - coincidentally on the third Friday of the month, somewhat spooky given the tradition established for lunches nearly 25 years ago!

Whether the new company took up residence at Eton Square immediately or remained temporarily in Bank House is unknown.

The Sands and McDougall directory of 1964 (probably complied around October of the previous year) lists the tenants as:-

Aluminium (Australia); E.S and A. Bank; Aqua Pools Ltd; Rickards and Rickards, solicitors; Colliers Inc., publishers; Titan Manufacturing Co., engineers; Toplis & Harding Pty Ltd, insurance adjusters; Wilemco Trading Co.; Walker, Robertson, Macquarie Pty Ltd, advertising agents; Eclipse Motors, car agents; Control Data Australia, computer suppliers; Australian University Commission; Donald Tracy Pty Ltd, real estate; J. W. Clymer, osteopath;

Just what criteria the directory used to determine the sequence is also unknown - presumably the bank, restaurant, and probably real estate agency would have been on the ground floor and with a St. Kilda Road frontage; the layout of the remainder a mystery.

It is also worth noting is that Control Data Australia in our histories is given as number 16 and later expanding to 17 and 18 (shared with Rickards and Rickards above) on the northern side of the U-shaped block when in fact, there are only 15 offices listed by the directory.

Based on the 1961 report on the sale which had 10 "flats or maisonettes"at 474 and assuming 476 was a mirror-image layout, there were likely 20 units all-up, and in all probability, a handful like CDA's occupancy may have been combined to create larger spaces - others could have of course, simply been unoccupied).

The Control Data office is, however, known to have been in one of the two-story maisonettes - John O'Neil recalled two rooms (reception and a copy/utility room, plus kitchen downstairs, and three offices and toilet/bathroom upstairs, but given most of the maisonettes were six rooms, this appears to be prior to the inclusion of unit 18. John also suggested the Control Data team frequented the Eton Square restaurant on a regular basis.  Ron Bird adds that the early crew also used the Chevron Lounge as a regular lunch spot.

Somewhere hidden within 474 there was a 160-A installed (maybe the shared suite 18).  Ron recalls that at one stage there was a major problem with the 160-A at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory at the Commonwealth Aircraft Factory at Fishermen's Bend and to solve it, the CPU was swapped with the one at Eton Square.  "I remember the frames being transported in George Crawford’s veteran Jaguar’s open boot. Pity we did not take a photo of this in the car parking space outside Suite 18 as we have no photos of Eton Square".  

Another article that appeared in Between Ourselves commemoration Ian Chapman’s ten years of service revealed his first inventory was stored in a bedroom, kitchen and bathroom of one of the flats (hopefully CDA weren’t flushed with success at the time)!

Many of these nondescript blocks of flats in later years were notorious for have a red light over one or more of the doors, but there was no hank-panky of that nature at Eton Square!

Or was there?  What the histories don't tell us is that adjacent at 478 St. Kilda Road was the Women's Royal Australian Army Corps (W.R.A.A.C) barracks, and we wonder whether any of the dirty little Control Data buggers jumped the fence occasionally and tried their luck at serving under the Sergeant-Major!

(Ron Bird suggests that during his time,  there WAS a door with a red light over it - this may help account for the discrepancy between the number of apartments and the directory listings, Sands and Mac perhaps not lowering the tone of their erstwhile publication)! [1]

Some Feedback “History of 476 St. Kilda Rd” in April, 2019 from Jenny (whose surname we record only as “X” described herself as “Possibly the only surviving sex worker at 476 St Kilda Road from 1977- 1980” - O.K. - I know that this was over a decade after CDA moved to 598, but the question that has to be asked is why was Jenny attracted to a Control Data Australia site?  Was it that she was seeking some old (now very old) clients … eerr! friends???

476 was the southern half of Eton Square and certainly things must have changed dramatically after CDA moved in 1965 - in subsequent feedback, Jenny suggested at the time she was “working”, there were 24 red lights and up to 60 women on call on the busier nights.  

Aahhh! so much choice, so little time …

[Top]

To a traditionalist's delight, 478, one of the original grand mansions, remains externally virtually unchanged from the original "Nangunia" , and is now used as a boutique hotel, The Hotel Chesterfield. The W.R.A.A.C. was disbanded in 1984 as part of the move to align male and female training and duties, but I'm pretty sure that the site remained with a military usage well into the 1990's. [2]

"Not happy, Jan" was a successful advertising campaign of three or four years ago, "Jan" coping the blame for missing out on advertising in the Yellow Pages.

Not sure whether Trevor Robinson had his own earlier version, "not, happy, Claire" (Manuel, his personal assistant), but the 1964 directory had "Control Data Corporation (USA), 474 St. Kilda Road, *26 3621" - the asterisk indicating multiple lines, but with no reference to Control Data Australia!

Coincidentally for one just finishing 12 months research into the history of the totalizator, the next entry was Control Systems Totalizators Limited, 380 Bourke Street - Control Systems were the second largest supplier of totalizator equipment and operations in Australia behind Automatic Totalisators Ltd based in Sydney.

I'll try and uncover how long Eton Square survived - Sands and Mac directories ended in 1974 and checking without their aid may not be justified, but 474 continued to add some flavour to Control Data night-life with the new building from 1984 encompassing Barbarino's Rib Restaurant where staff insisted on patrons wearing a wrap-round paper napkin before they tucked into the ribs finger-first.

Historical References

Often it's the little things that pull a story together - below are some snippets extracted from Trove for 474 St. Kilda Road.

From these, we now know that "Glenhope" during the 1920s at least was owned by a well-to-do family named Brash, who also had a holiday house at Sorrento. It also reveals the house was offered at public auction in March, 1927 (above), but seemingly did not sell with Mrs. Brash a couple of years later selling off the furniture at an executor's auction from 474 St. Kilda Road. [3]  

Harold Brash (occasionally BRASCH) was a descendant of the founder of Brash's Music, first established around 1862, and both he and his wife feature prominently in the social columns of the 1920s. Directories then show several different occupiers, the last in 1936, Alexander Younger - who was obviously left-handed and a keen golfer ... (elementary, my dear Watson). [4]

I haven't researched 476 St. Kilda Road fully, but coincidentally, it was offered for auction in June, 1927, just three months after 474 - "Magnificent Brick Residence, also Modern, Antique and Eastern furniture, 14 Beautiful rooms, Ballroom, staff quarters, double garage, outbuildings, land 100 x 200 feet". [5]

Given Eton Square was built across both titles, it's probably reasonable to assume that they fell into the hands of the same owner - the ad for 476 suggests the property was being sold UNDER EXCEPTIONAL CIRCUMSTANCES, but a different auctioneer was involved.

[Top]

Snippets : "Glenhope", 474 St. Kilda Road

The first definite reference to 476 is in the 1904 directory as being occupied by a Mr Pulteney Mein - prior to this, only one house (unnumbered) appeared in the block between Leopold and Beatrice streets.  A property at what would have been 474 was shown as occupied by a George Stirling who appears to have run a large drapery store in Richmond.


December, 1907

(Births) - On the 28th December, at "Glenhope", St. Kilda Road, the wife of E. R. Jacobs - a daughter

December, 1908

Man wanted, general, useful, for the country; references require, 474 St. Kilda Road, corner Leopold-st.

November, 1921

Cook, plain or general, for Sorrento, small family from Dec. 14, 8 weeks, other maid in house; refs. Apply Glenhope, 474 St. Kilda-rd (two doors Leopold-st).  Fares paid. (A near identical ad appeared in November, 1924)

April, 1923

(Deaths) McEvoy - On 2nd April, at 474 St. Kilda Road, James McEvoy, late "Tassacandra", Gundagai, N.S.W.  (Mrs Harold Brash was born Elizabeth McEvoy)

October, 1926

House parlour maid wanted, exper., personal and small family, £2, 474 St. Kilda Road. Wednesday morning, or between 5.30 and 6.00 Telephone Win. 580.


(Personal) Mr. Harold Brash, of Brash and Company, returned on the Sydney express yesterday after a trip to Java. He was accompanied by Mrs. Brash

September, 1929

On the premises, GLENHOPE, 474 ST. KILDA ROAD. As instructed by The Trustees, Executors an Agency Company Ltd., as Agents for MRS HAROLD BRASH The Complete Furnishings ... (VERY LARGE CARPETS, DOWN-FILLED UPHOLSTERED LOUNGE and Drawing-room SETTEES and CHAIRS, MAHOGANY and OTHER BEDROOM SUITES, HEPPLEWHITE Full Dining-room suite, NEW AUGUST FORSTER BABY GRAND in Mahogany finish, etc).

April, 1935

LOST. From car in William Street, Sat. 14 April, Left-handed golf clubs, 3 Spalding woods, 7 James Linquist irons, and Spalding putter in leather bag. Return to 474 St. Kilda Road or ring Win. 580. Good Reward  (elementary, my dear Watson)

November, 1937

ST KILDA ROAD (474) - ETON SQUARE

New Ultra mod S.C Flats 4 and 6 rooms OWN YARDS Just completed CALL No 9 Leopold st  Phone Win 8486

February, 1938

MICHAEL - The Friends of Mr EMANUEL MICHAEL are informed that the remains of his dearly beloved wife, Eva, will be interred in the Melbourne General Cemetery, Carlton. The funeral is appointed to move from his residence, No. 15 Eton Square, 474 St Kilda road,Melbourne, To-morrow (Sunday, 20th February), 10 a.m. punctually.