Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Rameta

67 Queen's Road

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Location

North-eastern corner of Queen's Road and Lorne Street (immediately behind 598)

Nothing for me other than a recollection of a block of flats there (was there a first floor sandwich bar???), perhaps a little more modern than some of the others constructed on the graves of the original mansions in Queen's Road.  Julie James headed up the Southern District External Consulting Services of Professional Services Division there prior to moving to larger premises shared with Control Data Institute in a much newer office building at 71 Queen's Road, just south of the John Batman Motel.

I can't confirm it one way of the other - that's my story and I'm sticking to it - but there is a belief given the number of strange men that apparently rang the bell that the apartment (on Queen's Lane) may previously have had a red light over the door and used to distribute hormones (i.e. a "hor-mone" being a noise you hear outside a brothel).

History

Bad puns aside, the site had a couple of interesting features, not least of which is that like 598 St. Kilda Road, it was only a 73-foot frontage, in its case to Queen's Road.  All other blocks in both streets from King's Way south to the Junction were a standard 100 by 250 feet, perhaps reinforcing the theory put forward in the page on Charlton that Lorne Street (originally Fraser Street) may have been reconstructed wider than originally planned and a slice taken from the blocks on the northern side.

I have a hunch that Lorne Street is somewhat wider than all the other streets between St. Kilda and Queen's Road and certainly the only one with traffic lights.  I must remember to pace it out next time I'm in the area. There also seems to be the likelihood that the original intentions were to continue Fraser/Lorne Street across the lake reserve, then a rubbish dump, as it aligns perfectly with Fraser Street in Middle Park.

There was no mention of 67 Queen's Road in directories until 1914, when it was listed simple as "vacant" - I'm not sure whether this means the block was cleared land or a house had been constructed, but unoccupied. The first name shown against the site in the following year was Lionel Benjamin, who was there until 1940 with the exception of two years in the early 1920s when it was listed under Henry Harker.

There's still some checking to be done to see whether there was a family connection, but coincidentally, Wyalla at 71 Queen's Road later used by the analyst group and CDI was listed under Louis Benjamin from 1908 to 1926, but possibly with the family there several years earlier.

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67 Queen's Road appeared in 1941 as the Rameta Flats, confirming it was of later design than others along that stretch and was promoted with all the hyperbole of the real estate agencies of the time (and evermore).

Directories do not show the occupants of apartment buildings (probably because of the somewhat transitory nature of the occupancies). but Rameta must have had some attraction as a 1945 Certificate of Incorporation for Victory Motors Pty Ltd. has one Reginald Myles Ansett as a co-director (along with Norman Myer of Heyington Place, Toorak).

By the mid-fifties, the block appears to have been "commercialised", some of the tenants including the Australian Air Pilot's association (Reg's influence?). Volkswagen (Australia), Pty. Ltd., and British Nylon Spinners Pty Ltd (later Nylex).

The site, along with 63 and 65 Queen's Road was bought by the Chevron group  in 1955, the frontage to Queen's Road of 473 feet selling for £456,000 with long-unfulfilled plans to build a massive private hotel and office complex.

The final  Sands and Macdougall directory of 1974 shows 11 tenants, the most notable Computer Power Pty Ltd., "management consultants”, along with another computer presence with a group called Cobol Digital Pty Ltd of which I for one have no knowledge. Julie confirmed recently that there was still a significant number of private residences in the building at the time her group was based there.

The massive proposed private hotel was never built : the President Motel at 63 survived until around 1990, the Waitemata Flats at 65 and Rameta at 67 probably around the same, but it seems probable that the three properties bought by the Chevron group in 1955 remained under the same ownership, the stretch now three interconnecting buildings offering strata title apartments and five-star hotel accommodation, labelled as The Sebel, the Pullman and the Mercurè Hotels, the Pullman group seemingly the controlling body..

(This was in September, 2013 - a quick web search suggests that there may been changes, there in no Sebel or Mercurè  listings for the site, some more shoe leather required)

I believe that 65 and 67 were originally part of the Raddison hotel chain, but again need to check a little further.