|This is Australia's and of course Melbourne's most famous hotel. |
The Young and Jackson Hotel (Y&J's) has stood beside Melbourne's busiest crossroads for nearly 140 years* emerging from humble origins to become an icon for the city.
Y&J's is famous for many reasons, not just its landmark status, on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Streets, or its past early openings and riotous 6pm closing when hoards consumed as much as possible prior to the closing bell.
It is home to the beautiful Chloe, a stunning 19th century French academic nude painting by the Master, Jules-Joseph Lefebvre. Until the 1960's Chloe was a rare opportunity for adolescent boys to view a naked woman - many men later recalled sneaking a peek at the curvaceous brunette.
Batman purchased the Young and Jackson site at Melbourne's first Crown land sale on 1 November 1837. Already standing on the site was a home used to accommodate Batman's children and governess. Upon his death in 1839 this building became Melbourne's first schoolhouse.
In 1835 Melbourne founder John Batman became the only native born Australian to found an Australian capital city. Batman was a contradictory figure in history, instrumental in both conciliatory campaigns and in killing expeditions against the Tasmanian Aborigines. Batman forged a sinister reputation for himself as evidenced in an inscription by his neighbour, the well-respected artist John Glover. Glover saw Batman as a 'rogue, thief, cheat and liar, a murderer of blacks and the vilest man I have ever known'. Batman died at the age of 38 from syphilis, contracted in the brothels of Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania).
Melbourne, in 1861, was recovering from a recession following the 1850's gold rush, with the young and vibrant city growing to a population of approximately 500,000 people. A sense of belonging was beginning to emerge among the city's young and vigorous population. Graham's corner shop was in a prime position to capture passing trade, close in proximity to the train station, docks and markets - a perfect position for the establishment of a public house.
On what we now know as the Young and Jackson Hotel site the Princes Bridge Hotel opened its doors to the public on 1 July 1861 - although this particular public were not of the genteel kind. On 19 April 1861 The Argus newspaper recorded that 'the style of the fittings shows that it would be nothing more than a low bar, of which we have too many already. Stale beer, tobacco and choice language, would then be the first greeting many thousands would receive on coming into town in the morning.' Naturally the hotel flourished.
In 1875 two successful Irish diggers became the licensees of the Princes Bridge Hotel - Henry Figsby Young and Thomas Joshua Jackson. Young and Jackson began improvements on the hotel. Over a period of 50 years all five separate buildings that presently comprise the Young and Jackson Hotel were incorporated into the hotel proper and the bluestone exterior rendered and altered to create a seemingly unified appearance.
Young and Jackson were in partnership for a period of 15 years but their name has remained associated with the hotel since. Upon dissolution of the Young and Jackson partnership Young carried on as publican until 1914. During this period he built up a fine art collection that, from 1909, included the fine work and Melbourne icon, Chloe. Chloe continues to reside in the building and has a scandalous history of her own. During restoration, however, she has been on exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria.
The history and drama that has unfolded before Young and Jackson's over the years has been immense. Wars, peace, victory processions, the passing of kings and queens, the growth of a settlement to a multicultural city, and every year repeated visits from ordinary people who hold both Chloe and Y&J's dear in their hearts. Having put up with each other for almost a century, Chloe and Y&Js have become inextricably linked as part of Melbourne's heritage. The National Trust and Heritage Victoria decreed in 1988 that they remain bound together forever.
* It was previously stated that Young and Jackson's is Victoria's oldest hotel in continual operation, which proved to be incorrect. Fosters made the claim, based on info from Victorian Liquor Licensing but they do not keep records prior to 1900.
Read Melbourne's Oldest Hotels