The first application for a license for a hotel at Fairfield was conditionally granted in December 1888. The following August Inspector Brown reported to the Licensing Magistrate that the new Grandview Hotel
“complied with the act, and was most complete in all its
arrangements for the accommodation of the public.”
The license was granted and the first licensee was Dominick Norris. Both the Grandview Hotel and the Charles Albion Hotel were Boom Style buildings, opulent in style compared to other Darebin hotels and designed to cater for the anticipated number of people passing through the area on the Outer Rail Loop. Unfortunately for both hotels the railway line never eventuated. For both hotels this was disastrous as they were on the outskirts of Northcote’s and Fairfield’s settlements and well away from large traffic areas.
In 1891 there was a minor drama when Mary Alice Burville was charged with attempted arson after an attempt was made to burn down the hotel. No evidence was presented to incriminate Burville and the case was dropped.
On 9th September 1891 the hotel went to auction. The hotel was described as a
“…noble structure of three stories, brick cemented, containing
about 44 rooms, including Billiards room, two of
Alcock’s tables, large club room, stabling, man’s room.
large club room, bar, etc.
Most commanding site and noble views, with a
certainty in the near future of a fortune to the proprietor.”
The advert seems a trifle optimistic about the fortune given the failure of the Outer Rail Loop. Nevertheless the hotel survived and we next hear of it in June 1896 as a meeting place for a Burwood Hounds, fox hunting being a popular pastime in the bush between Fairfield and the Old England Hotel in Heidelberg.
In October 1896 Eliza Norris was fined for Sunday trading. Presumably Eliza was the wife or daughter of the original owner Dominick Norris. It was her first offense and she was fined £5.
In around 1904 a significant event occurred in the history of the Grandview Hotel when Emily Junkers arrived at the hotel. It established a family link which was to last until 1978.
In June 1910 William Hubert Junker, Emily’s husband, was found in the club room of the hotel laying in great agony. He subsequently died and for the second time in her life Emily found herself a widow.
Emily was subsequently to marry a third time, to Mr Elvins who had been a bookkeeper at the hotel. In June 1931 Emily transferred the license to Catherine Grant.
In August 1932 James Opie, the licensee of the hotel tried to sell his lease to Mary Ellen Towt for £2,500. The owners of the hotel, E. Evans Pty Ltd objected to the sale and the case went to court. E. Evans Pty Ltd. argued that they had doubts about Mrs Towt and her husband to find the necessary funding. The judge agreed and the case was dismissed in the favour of E. Evans.
It was not only licensing disagreements which dragged the hotel into the newspapers. In September 1923, a resident at the hotel, Frank Bown, 20, was attacked and violently robbed whilst visiting another hotel in Victoria Street Collingwood.
Hotels frequently ran into trouble with serving alcohol outside hours and the Grandview was no exception. On the 28th April 1933 The Age reported that the Grandview Hotel barman, Alexander Mills was fined £2 for serving alcohol after hours. It is perhaps a measure of how well run the Grandview Hotel was that it appeared so infrequently in regards to selling alcohol after 6pm. Equally notable was that it was the barman not the publican fined. Normally the publican was deemed responsible and paid the fine, irrespective of who actually served the alcohol.
In 1944 James Sexton, the then publican relinquished the license back to E. Elvins Pty Ltd. The new licensee was Florence Cassie Elvins, Emily’s daughter. Florence was to remain at the hotel until her death at 65 in September 1954.
The hotel continued to operate under the ownership of the Junkers/Elvins family until the 1970s when the hotel was auctioned on 1 October 1975. The anticipated auction price was $400,000.
The hotel has continued to operate from its corner location and in the mid 1990s during one renovation an amount of slate from the original steeple roof was found stored in the attic. One owner during this period was Paul Cronin, a well-known Australian actor from the 1970s.
Cole, Robert K. Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949. Unpublished manuscript.
Edge, Gary (2004) Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne. Darebin Libraries.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne : Hargreen.
various articles 1888-1954 The Argus (Melbourne, Vic: 1848-1956)