Heidelberg Historical Society

The Darebin Bridge Hotel

Posted on Thursday, 18th June 2020 by Janine Rizzetti

from our Facebook page 15 June 2020

Image: HHS 1981

The former Darebin Bridge Hotel is the second oldest standing hotel structure in Heidelberg. (The oldest section of the Old England Hotel is older). But when was it built? There are a few dates given for its construction - 1844 (demolished and replaced), 1848, 1850 and 1862-64 !!! If it was one of the first three dates, then it wasn’t even beside the Darebin Bridge, which used to be a wooden bridge located east of the Tower Hotel, near where Alphington Grammar is today. The present basalt bridge was constructed over the Darebin Creek between 1862-4, and the Heidelberg Conservation Study and the Victorian Heritage Database cite these years as the date of construction of the Darebin Bridge Hotel, suggesting that earlier references to the hotel were referring to earlier ‘Darebin Creek Hotel’ premises south of the present location, no longer in operation.

The hotel known as the Darebin Bridge Hotel (where-ever it was and whenever it was built!) had a succession of 23 publicans between 1844 and 1922, including nine female publicans. The licence was surrendered in 1922. Since 1907 the Licences’ Reduction Board had been working to reduce the number of hotels in all districts to 1885 statutory levels, and given the presence of the Tower and Alphington Hotels on the other side of the bridge, this little stretch of Heidelberg Road was certainly well resourced with hotels!

After decommissioning, the old hotel became a Chinese laundry and a rooming house. It was purchased by the artist Lina Bryans in c.1942 and it attracted a number of artists including Ada Plante, Ambrose Hallen, Jock Frater and Ian Fairweather. Each of the external walls was painted a slightly different shade of pink, and it became known as the ‘Pink Hotel’.

Bryans sold the hotel in 1948 and since then it has been used by a number of businesses, including the Australian Paper Mills who purchased it in 1951 used it as a cardboard testing laboratory. In October 1997 it suffered $75,000 damages through fire when it was occupied by Erwin Sick Optic Electronics P/L, who manufactured industrial sensors. No doubt those thick basalt walls are why the old Darebin Bridge Hotel continues to stand today!

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