Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Middle Park  Hotel

 102 Canterbury Road, Middle Park

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Location

South-eastern corner of Canterbury Road and Armstrong Street, Middle Park

Memories

A bit awkward to get to as it meant a convoy of cars into a fairly restricted parking zone, but there were many lunches there in a huge dining room that covered much of the ground floor. Entry to the eating area was from midway along Armstrong Street, the alcove clearly visible on the right-hand side of all three images.

History

A new Licensing Act in 1885 placed much more restrictions on the design of new hotels, with the result that most erected after that time in the South Melbourne area were of substantially greater size and quality than those that preceded them.

The Middle Park opened in 1890, the owner John Mahon, whose family went on to control the hotel for another 40 years.  The architect and builder was Walter Scott Law, who made another lasting impression on the district by designing the Albert Park Coffee Palace, now known as the Biltmore apartments in Bridport Street.

It was a bold venture - what we know as Middle Park was largely uninhabited at the time - the area between the Albert Park Reserve and the beach mostly poorly drained swampland. The station opposite the hotel opened in 1883, although the St. Kilda line itself had operated since 1857.

Mahon promoted the hotel extensively as a tourist destination rather than a local "watering hole", placing advertisements in many of the brochures promoting the attractions of  Melbourne's "healthy" bathing spots along the bay.

The Middle Park was examined as part of the 1926 License Reductions Board hearings, the sitting largely symbolic as the inspector-in-charge opening the inquiry suggested that none of the hotels opened in the South Melbourne areas since the 1885 Licensing Act should be closed.

The hotel was described as 80 by 141 feet, three-story brick, of 46 rooms with 15 available for casual boarders and with a large dining room.  

There were 21 permanent boarders and police suggested the premises were very well conducted and did a large dinner trade although no counter lunches were served. (Boo, hiss!!)  Counsel for the owner suggested recent renovations had greatly improved the bar and included a hot water service.  A night porter was employed for convenience of the guests.  Inspector Brown suggested no further improvements were required.

Today

In 2001, the ALH group bought the hotel and changed its name to the Gunn Island Brew Bar and significantly upgraded with substantial renovations, including a brewery, brasserie, lounge area, bottle shop, saloon bar, main bar, and three function areas.  

The name has since reverted back to the original and the brewery no longer operates, but the other facilities remain.  (Not sure about the brasserie, but then again I’ve never really been into women’s undergarments - well, not as much as I would have liked)!

Externally, it remains almost identical to the original facade of 1890, but we couldn't say the same for Armstrong Street!