Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Originally Menzies Hotel, this magnificent building situated at the south-east corner of Bourke and William streets was the first of Melbourne's grand hotels and certainly one of the finest  

The site was purchased in 1867 by Mr and Mrs Archibald Menzies whose Menzies Family Hotel in La Trobe Street dated from 1853. Designed by Reed & Barnes and constructed at a cost of £32 000 by David Mitchell, a three-storey building with columned arcade and pavilion towers opened in November 1867. Two floors and a corner tower were added in 1896 and electric light, telephones and a lift were installed. Suites were either painted white or walnut-panelled and had French bedsteads.

A six-storey wing was added in 1922 providing en-suite bathrooms and an enlarged dining room.   The Menzies family interest remained until the hotel's purchase in 1936 by Sydney financier Bede Rydge (in part, founder of Rydge's Business Weekly).

In 1942 it became South-West Pacific headquarters for General Douglas MacArthur for several months. It was sold in 1964, then closed and demolished early in 1969 to make way for construction of the offices for BHP.

Although many will remember the sixth-floor Cyber installation, CDA's initial contact with the Broken Hill Proprietary Ltd. was via a Marc-II remote batch terminal installed June, 1971 in their earlier offices at Essington Lewis House  at 500 Bourke street, around 100 metres to the east, but on the opposite side of the street. It was demolished soon after BHP moved and later became a key centre for Telecom.

Because of the obvious connection to the iron and steel industry, BHP House (designed by architects Yuncken Freeman and with engineers Irwin Johnson and Partners,) was one of the earliest high-rise buildings in Melbourne to feature a steel girder internal structure.

It also one of the first, if not the first, “total energy” buildings in Australia with the electricity required generated using natural gas, undoubtedly helped by BHP’s substantial interest in the Esso gas fields in Gippsland; at the time of its opening in 1972, BHP House was the tallest building in Melbourne.

The Cyber mainframe  (lifted via crane, right) was on the sixth floor and on the south-eastern corner with the rest of the computer room extending along the eastern side.

The 41-storey Menzies replacement was was designed by Yuncken Freeman architects and fittingly given the ultimate occupiers was one of the first “high-rise” buildings to make extensive use of steel.

Several parts of the Data Centre installation were too large for the BHP House elevators and had to be swung in via crane, necessitating the temporary removal of sixth floor windows.

Menzies’ Hotel (aka B.H.P. House)

140 William Street


Above : Menzie’s Hotel, circa 1920

Below : Entrance Foyer. Date unknown, I seem to remember the BHP cafeteria (I think 41st floor), but this certainly wasn’t it!

Also Australian Dictionary of Biography

Essington Lewis

Sir Norman Bede Rydge

The Facility Code is believed to have been AARMDC, the 'phone number (03) 67 8251