20 Howard Street

20 Howard Street
North Melbourne VIC 3051
photographer: Sue Scarfe

Also known as North Melbourne Hotel [25] 1854- 1904
Previous Address

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Land Details

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Subsequent Building Alterations

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Heritage Significance and Listings

Heritage Listings and Explanatory Notes


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Social History

Howard Lane running east from Number 20 Howard Street.

North Melbourne Hotel [25] 1854- 1904, later demolished.

Was this the first?

Albert Mattingley, schoolteacher and early resident of North Melbourne, wrote a history of the area, as he knew it. He identified the North Melbourne Hotel on this site as the first hotel in the district. There is still an old rubble wall along the boundary of the lane, which is thought to be part of the hotel’s original stable wall.

The records call this claim into doubt as they date its licence from April 1854 and our research shows that the North Star licence dates from the 5 September 1853 at the original Howard Street site. Moreover, the Empire and the Lalla Rookh were already open 2 months earlier in July 1853.

We have not been able to ascertain whether, for example, the establishment of the North Melbourne Hotel preceded the granting of a licence, which would still allow it to be the ‘first ‘. Whether or not it was first. it was one of the first. Like many others the North Melbourne Hotel closed in 1904.

The early days

In 1856, the North Melbourne Hotel was described as a stone house with bar, cellar, twelve rooms, kitchen, stable and loft. It was on the highest part of the street and was a popular rendezvous for groups setting off for the diggings. Fifty years later, in his Early History of North Melbourne (1915), local schoolteacher Mattingley described those times:

It was a centre where carters and bullock drivers made their first halting place after having secured their loads in Melbourne for the different diggings. Here they used to assist one another in re arranging their loads so that the heaviest goods should be placed immediately above the axles, the whole of the load then being carefully secured with ropes and chains.

The roads the diggers took grew wider and wider as carts and wagons bogged and following drivers made for the outer edges to avoid getting into trouble. Given the availability of horses at the time, many vehicles were drawn by bullocks and mules and some of the diggers were on foot for all or part of the way.

Historic Pubs of North Melbourne by Hotham History Project.

Context and Streetscape




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