Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

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Illoura House

424 St. Kilda Road

Location

South-western corner of St. Kilda Road and King's Way (originally Roy Street).

Memories

The new Illoura House was home to the CRISP/VICTAB team in a basement office that accommodated around 12 people. The direct entrance was from mid-way along King's Way, roughly where the "For Sale" sign is in the image below.

The corner has obviously dramatically changed, even in the mid-1970s and one memory is consistently suggesting analysts en route to TAB headquarters should use the lights on the corner of Queen's Road rather than risking life and limb taking a short cut across Kings Way!

David Leigh has recently suggested that the original team grew by 1977 to around 60 people with office space extending to the first and second floors, parts of which overlooked The Gentle Touch massage parlour, but I have yet to confirm the location of the latter (... I'm sure there's some receipts lying around somewhere ...)

Rather strangely, the Melbourne White Pages Directory from 1977 (when the CRISP team was still at Illoura) through to 1979 lists under the Control Data grouping “Small Systems Operations, 424 St. Kilda Road, 267-4000”.

I vaguely remember the CRISP team had a different number from 598 - as an internal group with no exposure to outside business, it perhaps not unusual that the number did not appear in earlier years, but “Small Business Operations:????

History

Just when the original mansion was built is a little hazy - many of the old mansions were constructed long before street numbers were introduced and directories used names of the occupiers rather than the property name.

There is some evidence that the site was originally called Fitzroy House and later Astor House.

In 1936, the building was listed as vacant, and 1937 it reappeared as "Illoura Flats" although advertisements for larger-style apartments had already appeared through the 1920s.

Like a few other large private residences in St. Kilda and Queen’s Roads, Illoura was taken over by the Defence Department during the Second World War and became Sir Thomas Blamey's Melbourne headquarters for Land Signals. Post-war, it was bought by the Greek Orthodox church in 1946 for £16,000 with plans to develop the site into a church,

These never eventuated and the building was still in use as a private hotel under the care of Mr. A. K. Craige when again offered for sale in 1964, the purchaser London County Properties Australia Ltd.

Sadly this was the end for the grand old building, its replacement a modern but rather bland office building, which, other than its prominent location, is virtually indistinguishable from others lining what was once Melbourne's grand boulevard of mansions.

Today

A building of similar design was later built on St. Kilda Road to the south and subsequently the two were joined by a glass atrium featuring shops and food outlets. The original white facade is now a very dark grey with some white under the windows