John Curtin Hotel

Original post 21 February 2022:

In the news is another pub to close, but this one has a lot more history than most- the John Curtin Hotel in Lygon Street was built in 1915 as the Lygon Hotel, designed by Billing Peck & Kemter in a rather nice Arts & Crafts style (and may be an extensive rebuild of the earlier hotel). By the 1950s it was popular with police from the nearby Russell Street HQ, then in the 60s (or earlier?) it was popular with unionists from Trades Hall across the road, to the point it was renamed after our WW2 Labor PM John Curtin in 1971, and in the 70s Bob Hawke held court there. Unionists faded away in the 90s, and lately it’s become a live music venue. Pubs have always found a way to stay relevant, and their licences were once worth keeping, but not any more ! So it’s up for sale. The building is relatively safe, with heritage protection as a Contributory place in the Carlton precinct, which means the ‘front or principle portion’ should be kept, and there’s an 8 storey height limit too – but there’s nothing to stop it being a shop or offices. The @cityofmelbourne is looking to upgrade its heritage status, the @nationaltrustvic is on the case and Trades Hall say they’re thinking of buying it, which is probably the only sure fire solution – though I can’t find anything where you can support them.

Meanwhile there’s another pub up for sale, the Royal Mail, in Spencer street, West Melbourne, which has similar levels of protection but no profile. I’m thinking maybe it’s time to apply a better level of protection to all remaining pubs, maybe a default one where they should stay mostly intact and as a pub, unless there’s good arguments to the contrary. Or have pubs, at least ones that arnt live music venues, had their day ?

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