Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey

Wyalla

71 Queen's Road, Melbourne

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Location

Between Lorne and Union Street, two doors south of the John Batman Motel. Education Services 51-1306 (from 1979)

Memories

None for me.  This was the building occupied by Control Data's Education Services Division, aka Control Data Institute when I checked telephone directories of 1979 and they remained until at least 1984. I haven't checked either side of those dates, although I have a vague recollection that they may have later moved to 493 St. Kilda Road. As to Control Data's presence in the building, I assume it was used both for administration and teaching.

Julie James recalls later sharing the fourth(?) floor when she headed Southern District External Consulting Services in Professional Services Division, originally in the flats at 67 Queen's Road immediately behind 598 but requiring more space following the shut-down of the Wagering Division and the absorption of more analysts into Consulting Services.

Tony Bell when he was with CDI remembers looking of his corner window one rather bleak day and watching an elderly man teetering on the edge of the lake and wondering whether he was going to try and drown himself in two feet of water, but when the guy turned around, he had a fishing rod and four silver trout.  Discovering there had been a recent release of fish into the lake, Tony tried his hand a day or so later and has a fond recollection of wandering back across Queen's Road one lunchtime resplendent in his best business suit, with a fishing rod and proudly displaying two wriggling trout!

History

The actual number 71 first appeared in the 1908 directories under the name "Wyalla", the occupant Louis S. Benjamin who appears to have been there until around 1926.

What appears to be the first entry comes in 1900 under the name of John B. Merrilees, but from 1904 “Wyalla” shows under “L. Benjamin” - this could have been Louis or his father Laurence who later built “Brooklawns” at 82 Queen’s Road (this later used for around sixty years from around 1913 as a private hospital).

The property was advertised for sale in April, 1924 as a "charming two-story brick residence" with five bedrooms and servant's quarters upstairs, entrance hall, dining, drawing and morning rooms with a conservatory annexe downstairs and an asphalt tennis court and various outbuildings, but perhaps most interesting part of the advertisement was that Wyalla was offered with an adjoining vacant block, also of the standard 100 by 250 feet which the auctioneer's notice (although hardly the most reliable of sources) suggested was "practically the last available block in this charming road".

It seems unlikely the auction was a success; in October, 1926, another auction notice appeared for the disposal of all of the Benjamin family's furnishings "owing to the sale of the property".

"Sale" may have in fact been "anticipated sale" with Wyalla itself again offered at auction in December, still with the tennis court, but no mention of the vacant block.

The new owner was Harry McRae, who is noted as dying at 71 Queen's Road in August, 1929 and by October, the property was again on the market, but now referred to as "Erinvale" and again in October, 1932 as "Aylesbury"

The first hint of a conversion from a private residence to shared accommodation came in mid-1938 when advertisements started to appear for "Sandilands Lodge" Guest House, the notices suggesting the property was redecorated and newly furnished throughout.

It appears to have been converted into mostly commercial use around 1949 when in July, the "superior" furnishings of what was described as a 15-room house were auctioned and this may well have been the end of the guest house and its conversion for commercial use.   References from 1953 onwards are always to business enterprises operating from the building, real estate agency, a seed distribution company and management consultants amongst those noted.

The building of many names remained in the Sandilands family until the end, the final entry in Sands and McDougall directories in 1974 having the occupants shown as Mr. G. H. Sandilands along with five commercial tenancies.  

Today

Now a ten-story office block (with apartments now between it and the John Batman).  I have no recollection of the building of the 1980’s; if it is the same structure, I’m guessing it has been modernised over the last 30-or-so years




Today : 10 floors (I have no recollection of the structure of the early 1980s for comparison)

Next door neighbours the Indonesian Consulate - significant architecturally as one of perhaps just four or five of the surviving original mansions that once lined Queen’s Road