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Esplanade Hotel (Extant) 11 Esplanade

View ca 1912 View ca 1912 St KIlda by the Sea, 1913, SLV
Other names Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel, Carlyon's Hotel
Date built: 1877
Architect: Smith & Johnson architects
Builder: unknown
Cost: unknown
1st Owner: James Orkney (1822-1896)


The style of architecture employed is called Italianate. It was modelled on a type of Italian palazzo style that employed classical details but without using columns or pilasters, and was made popular in Britain by the work of the architects such as Sir Charles Barry (1795-1860). In Victoria it became the predominant style from about 1875 until the late 1880s. The design of this building is similar to many that would have been built at the time in the Sussex seaside towns of Brighton or Eastbourne.

The main façade forms a large 3 storey block with a faceted bay either end. The roof has no parapets but instead projects out to form an eave with brackets under. At ground level you can clearly see the projecting nib walls that distinguished each of the three houses from each other with their separate entrances. Each house had a verandah at ground level. However the central house also has a first floor balcony. This breaks up the fenestration, provides a strong central emphasis and ultimately balances the whole composition. Unfortunately this important element was removed with the 1920 additions. The rendered brickwork finish would have been left unpainted, giving it a soft grey appearance that toned in with the dark grey slate roof above. The current white painted appearance probably also dates from the 1920 renovations.


The site was created by the subdivision of Crown Allotment 2 (the previous site of the New Bath Hotel) by the estate of John Duerdin in ca. 1870. In 1874 James Orkney (1822-1896), a resident at the NE corner of the Esplanade and Victoria Street, purchased a section of Duerdin's paddock fronting the Esplanade.

Orkney had been involved in railway construction in Britain, before arriving in Victoria in 1852 and becoming the proprietor of the Sir Charles Hotham Hotel in Flinders Street shortly afterwards. In 1861 he was elected MLA for West Melbourne until 1864 and then again in 1880-1885. He was a prominent leader of Scot's Church and comissioner of the Melbourne Harbour Trust 1877-1878.

In 1877 he commissioned the firm of Smith and Johnson architects to design a new terrace of 3 residences for the site. However by November 1878 he had changed his mind and decided to convert the premises to a hotel.

The Orkney family and their descendants continued to own the site until the mid 1950s.


1877-? John Hay; 1920-1925 Thomas Symington Carlyon (1865-1925); 1925- Mrs A. E. Hadwen; -1935- J. Sharpe-Brown;

Famous guests:

1891, Sarah Bernhardt (1844-1823) French opera singer; Alfred Felton (1831-1904) businessman and philanthropist.

  Source Content or [note]
1. Tenders, Argus 1877.01.23 p.3 Tenders
Tenders required by noon 5 February, for erection of a terrace of three houses, at Esplanade, St Kilda for Jas, Orkney. Smith & Johnson architects

2. Notices, Argus 1877.11.16 p.8 Notice of application for a Publican's Licence
To the Licensing Magistrates for District of St Kilda, – I, James Hay, of St Kilda, do hereby give notice that I desire to obtain and will at the next annual licensing meeting apply for a public licence for a house situate at the Esplanade, St Kilda, to be known as the Esplanade Hotel, containing more than 50 rooms, exclusive of those required for the use of the family. The 15th day of November, AD 1877.

3. News, Argus 1891.05.29 p.5

Sarah Bernhardt Tour
…several other persons well known in theatrical circles were on the platform, and a carriage was waiting to convey Madame Bernhardt to the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda, where she is to remain during her stay,…

4. Argus 1920.01.03 p.15 Esplanade Hotel, Sold
Mr. T. S. Carlyon, formerly of Ballarat, and lately of Carlyon's Hotel, Spencer street who has returned to Melbourne from a tour of the world, has purchased [the lease of] the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda, and has decided to enlarge and remodel it.

5. The Australasian Decorator and Painter, 1921.06.01 p.235

Decorations at the Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda.
An interesting example of interior decoration has just been completed by Mr Harry Bush at Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel. [full description of alterations and the additions to the front and ballroom at the rear, with 4 images of these interiors]

6. Argus, 1925.07.21 p.13

Carlyon's Hotel Sold
Carlyon's Esplanade Hotel has been sold through Mr Percy Henry to Mrs A. E. Hadwen of Gelnbrook avenue, Malvern. The sale does not include the ballroom, which is not on the licensed premises. It is understood that the price is about £35,000. There are about 90 bedrooms. Until recently Mrs Hadwen owned the Francacelli Cafe, which she sold for £15,000. Possession will be given on August 10. The future of the ballroom is uncertain.

7 Argus 1925.10.21 p.24

Death of Mr. T. Carlyon. 
The death occurred at a private hospital of Mr Thomas Symington Carlyon, whose name has been associated with the direction of leading hotels. Mr Carlyon was aged 60 years, and death followed an illness of three weeks. … The Esplanade Hotel and the Ballroom were sold by Mr. Carlyon in August of this year, and it was his intention to travel.

8. Argus 1935.04.24

Hotel to Cost £225,000
A new hotel of eight stories constructed of steel and concrete will be erected this year on the site of the  Esplanade Hotel, formerly known as Carlyon's. Each of the 250 bedrooms will have its own bathroom, and a glass-enclosed bathing pool will be provided on the roof.
Three lounges, a dining-room to seat 350 persons, a saloon bar, and bookstall will be included in the ground floor, and in the basement will be a grill room, gymnasium and Turkish baths, pharmacy, hairdressing saloon, and a dry-cleaning department.
Demolition will begin in July, and the new hotel, which will cost about £225,000, will be ready for occupation in March 1936. The building was designed by Mr F. G. Richardson, architect, of 90 Queen Street.
Mr J. Sharpe-Brown, a former manager of the Mount Buffalo Chalet, and proprietor of the present hotel, will be general manager of the new hotel.


  • Date Built: To come
  • First European Land Owner:

    To come

  • Architects:

    To come

  • Description:

    To come

  • Compiled by: To come

The renowned Espy immediately adjacent to the Pier on the foreshore.