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DAREBIN BRIDGE HOTEL

Driving along Heidelberg Road towards the City of Melbourne, the old building shown in the photograph below, appears on the right, just before you cross Darebin Creek. In 2006, it was owned by an electronics company. By 2018, a number of extensions had been added behind. You would hardly guess that it was one of the earliest hotels in the district, the famous Darebin Bridge Hotel.

OLD DAREBIN HOTEL AND FAIRY HILLS.

This article was found in our archives, headed: "D.A. Bulletin No. 121, June 1965".
"The route of the first made road in Victoria - the Heidelberg road - crossed the Darebin Creek at a ford situated at the foot of the hill near the Christian Brothers College, Alphington. From this crossing - later augmented by a low-level log bridge - a short stretch called Turnpike Road led northerly across the flat to join up with the present line of the road near the entrance to the Boulevard. The land on the Darebin side of the creek hereabouts, was part of Portion One, Parish of Keelbundora, an area of 1200 acres sold by the Crown at the first sales of Victorian Country lands in Sydney on 12th September, 1838, the purchaser being Thomas Walker.
This gentleman was an investor and land speculator, well-known in Sydney business circles of the day. He was the father of the late Dame Eadith Walker of Concord. Walker sub-divided his purchase soon after - the agent concerned being R.H. (Continental) Browne - most famous of early land salesmen.
Of this sub-division, some 54 acres were purchased by J.H. Burn in October 1839, being the area of Darebin proper, bounded by the Darebin Creek, the Yarra, Waterdale Road, and a northern line somewhere about the top of the Darebin hill. This land was transferred to George Langhorne in 1840, and to G.T. and F. Fenwick in 1853.
It appears that during the Langhorne ownership, the two storied Darebin Hotel was erected, about the year 1848. Solidly built, the hotel is well proportioned, with ground floor stone walls two feet thick, and on the first floor the walls are 22 inches across, with windows deeply embrasured. Under the tall wooden verandah is the wide doorway to the old bar room, with capacious cellars underneath.
In the fifties the old hostelry seems to have been a centre of community life for the District, which had reached a high state of cultivation, chiefly with vineyards and market gardens. Early in 1853 ''a meeting of gentlemen in the neighbourhood of Darebin Creek was held at the Darebin Hotel to consider the erection of a school in the locality". The meeting decided to go ahead with the project and all present became subscribers, the Trustees appointed being John Greenaway, local property owner and coach proprietor, Roger Croker and John Webb.
In those days there were two schemes of education available - Denominational and National. A later meeting, chaired by the Revd. Francis Hales, first Vicar of St. John's Anglican Church, Heidelberg, decided on the Denominational system, with the Anglican Church as the controlling body.
A further decision was made to call tenders for the building. A meeting in the hotel on 3rd June 1853 accepted the tender of Messrs Young and Jackson, Builders, for the erection of the school at the corner of Waterdale and Heidelberg Roads, Ivanhoe - now occupied by Davey's Buildings - the cost being £650. In October 1853, a further meeting of the Committee in the hotel, dealt with a complaint against the master of the recently opened school, charging him with cruelty to the pupils. He was defended by several witnesses, and the complainants not putting in an appearance, the case was dismissed."
"In 1860 a serious fire occurred in the hotel cellars, and thirsty patrons had some uneasy moments, until the blaze was put out without undue damage to the supplies. It is understood that the present bluestone bridge near the hotel was not erected until about 1868, and this with the deviation from the Old Heidelberg Road on the Alphington side, brought the hotel to its present alignment with the main road. The portion of land separated from the hotel by the new section of road , was for many years the site of a prosperous Chinese market garden. It has been stated that the bridge was convict built but there does not appear to be any evidence to support this story.
The Annual report, of the Country Roads Board for 1937 advised that the blue-stone bridge at Darebin, with an arch of 40ft from the bed of the creek to the deck, and built about 70 years, was in a state of extreme disrepair, and could not cope with the increase in traffic in Heidelberg Road. The blue-stone parapets had become loose, and vandals had thrown some of the stones into the creek. Subsequently the bridge was remodelled by the unusual method of retaining the arch and understructure and super-imposing thereon the widened roadway with cantilevered overhang on each side.
In 1922 the hotel license was surrendered and in 1927 the Dunn family sold to G. Gay, who in 1943 disposed of the property to Mrs. L. Bryans, an Artist, who reconditioned the building, converting it into three studios. The Australian Paper Manufacturers Ltd. purchased the building an 1951 and altered it to serve as a research laboratory. The firm is to be congratulated on the manner in which the old building is kept, and for the care given to the grounds surrounding it. It is pleasing to see one of the old inns of the early days, so well preserved for posterity."