Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

The Light Car Club

46 Queen's Road, Melbourne

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Location

North-eastern corner of Queen's Road and Roy Street (formerly Queen's Place South).

Memories

Far, far too many to document ...

History (The Light Car Club of Australia)

The Victorian Light Car Club was formed late in 1924 as a spin-off from the Royal Automobile Club of Victoria, the first president Mr. A. W. Bernadou.

Its initial operations including endurance rallies, reliability trials and hill climbs for "light cars", these defined as cars with an engine capacity of less than 2,000 c.c.

In 2010, Bob Watson, a long-time stalwart of The Light Car Club published a history of club, "Phillip Island to Fangio".

Bob Watson's Historical Summary

Monument Australia

History (46 Queen's Road)

For many years, the Light Car Club of Australia had operated from premises at 17 Brunswick Street, Eastern Hill (now regarded as Fitzroy), but moved to the vacant Albert Park Golf Club premises in Queen's Road in 1961 (when still the corner of Queen's Place South).

Until around 1962, today's Hannah and Roy Streets to the north and south of the Albert Ground were known as Queen's Place North and Queen's Place South. Hannah Street was the original section of today’s King's Way from the Yarra to Park Street, South Melbourne, Roy Street ran from Park Street southwards across Albert Road and a dog-leg to the left to link up with St. Kilda Road.

The site that became 46 Queen's Road was first shown in 1919 as the clubrooms of the Albert Park Golf Club, which had existed since around 1900 and who were credited with constructing what was then a private golf course on the Crown lands in the Albert Park Reserve, the area originally a rubbish dump.

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The Golf Club retained occupancy of the site until 1960, despite the course itself being reclassified as a public course just after the Second World War (during which it was closed and used by the Army). Under Government pressure to relinquish its hold on the Albert Park layout, the club acquired 200 acres of land in Melbourne's famed sand-belt to erect a new course, the name subsequently changing to the Keysborough Golf Club.

(Apparently during a clean-up during the late 1970’s, the LCCA uncovered a pile of golf club memorabilia - scorecards, photos, advertising, etc., but no one at the time was aware of the connection to Keysborough and (pre re-cycling days), most of it went up in smoke).

The origins of the building we remember are a little sketchy - notes with the only photograph suggest the image was taken in 1936, but when the Kirner Government ordered its demolition in 1993, the project ran something like four times over budget because no one realised that it was constructed from reinforced concrete when it was erected as a Civil Defence Headquarters during the Second World War.

(To be politically impartial, the Kennett Government struck a similar problem when removing the basketball courts in Albert Road two or three years later as part of the redevelopment of the Park for the Australian Grand Prix - the land where the courts sat was originally constructed as a depot for Army tanks during the Second World War and had a three to four-foot concrete base to support the weight).

A few years after the LCCA moved to the premises, a working-bee of members re-constructing part of the building to add a wine cellar found a collection of disused PMG telephone lines; there was a belief at one stage that they were installed in 1956 and the building used as a media centre for the 1956 Melbourne Olympics.

This seemed a  rather strange choice - there were no events held in or around the Albert Park (the Lake was at one stage considered from rowing, but rejected as too small and shallow in favour of Lake Wendouree near Ballarat), and the later discovery of the Official Report of the Olympic Organizing Committee released in 1958 confirms that there was no Press Centre established in Queen’s Road.

This in part suggests that the communications lines may well have been installed during the original construction and adding further weight to the belief that 46 Queen’s Road was in fact a defence establishment during the war

The LCCA itself closed in 1992 - there were several contributing factors; an aging membership, stringent drink-driving laws, s shift on the computer industry from the traditional “golden mile” (hence loss of much support of The Computer Club), a building in poor repair and loss of the control of Sandown Park race meetings,

It was kept afloat for a year or so as a midnight-to-dawn nightclub called Razor’s - one review of the Razor’s suggested it was popular simply because the venue was “delightfully outdated and decrepit ... you half-expect to see Humphrey Bogart walk through the door wearing a trench coat ...",. but the crunch came with a lease renewal.

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The LCCA had originally been granted the lease on a “peppercorn” rental as part of a plan to stimulate sporting activities in the area - the Melbourne Cricket Club (Albert Ground), Lawn Tennis Association (tennis courts along Hanna Street) and the Lakeside Golf Club had similar arrangement and were still active with sporting events; on the other hand, the LCCA had not run a meeting on the old Albert Park circuit for nearly thirty years.  

I vaguely remember there was short-term proposal to re-vamp the old circuit just before Adelaide was awarded the Grand Prix, but it was dismissed out of hand by the new Labor Government under John Cain who stated categorically that his Ministry would not support open-street motor racing.

I vaguely remember there was a short-term proposal to re-vamp the old circuit and a stretch north along Queen's Road just before Adelaide was awarded the Grand Prix, but it was dismissed out of hand by the new Labor Government under John Cain who stated categorically that his Ministry would not support open-street motor racing.

The main sticking-point was a major re-work at the corner of Queen's and Albert Road – the original course (where I believe racing was in the opposite direction to today's Grand Prix) is thought to have looped off Queen's Road behind MacRobertson Girl's High, but could not be re-opened due to extensions of either the golf course or the school buildings.



(above) 17 Brunswick Street, Eastern Hill, now the Aegean Greek Restaurant (below) 46 Queen's Road, probably then the Albert Park Golf Club

To compound the problem, the Lawn Tennis Association’s redevelopment of its Kooyong centre has seen the loss of several practice courts and it was rumoured the Australian Open may as a result lose its coveted “Grand Slam” status.

The dilapidated old 46 Queen’s Road was offered to the Tennis Association as an administration centre along with an upgrade of the courts in Hanna Street for use during the weeks. of the Open.

The upgrade of the courts was accepted with some delight, but one look at the building and the LTAV decided that rather than the traditional “… Gentlemen, start your engines”, it was instead “… Gentlemen, start your bulldozers …”

Rather like CDA, the LCCA manages to keep many of its old members involved with an annual re-union in West Melbourne and a Christmas Lunch organised by the “Old and the Bold” in Elsternwick.

History (The Computer Club)