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Melbourne

18 January 2017
By Neil Gardiner

Ever wondered where the name Melbourne comes from?

It was named after the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the 2nd Viscount Melbourne who was in power in 1835 when Melbourne was first settled. Although Melbourne, Victoria has been named after him, he never made the journey across the seas to visit the city named in his honour.

2nd Viscount Melbourne

William Lamb, known as the 2nd Viscount Melbourne, and later “Lord” Melbourne. Is the facial hair the origin of the term “Lamb Chops”?

But the 2nd Viscount Melbourne himself was a resident of Melbourne - but not Melbourne Victoria. Confused? Well there’s a town in the English County of Derbyshire called Melbourne where he was a notable resident.

Melbourne actually means “Mill Stream” and was first recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The 2nd Viscount Melbourne’s real name was William Lamb. One of Melbourne, Victoria’s early hotels was the Lamb Inn presumably in honour of him. It was located at 444 Collins Street. It was said to be constructed of wattle and daub boasting six rooms, and was owned by the irascible John Fawkner.

Lamb Inn Melbourne

Image of the Lamb Inn, State Library of Vic.

There is another Lamb Inn, in Melbourne, Derbyshire.

Lamb Inn UK 1

This public house, located at 20 High Street, Melbourne, Derby has been on the same site since 1836 when the 2nd Viscount Melbourne was the English Prime Minister. The current double storey building was constructed in 1938 and the style is regarded as “Brewery Tudor”.

There is some confusion as to the origin of the name of the hotel as on this site there used to be a butchers shop, however the fact that William Lamb was Prime Minister at the time, and that he originated from Melbourne is an interesting coincidence.

Lamb Inn UK 2

Detail of brickwork and stained glass windows

The building itself is a double storey brick building, with accommodation upstairs and a large garden to the rear. The herringbone brickwork adds interest to the style and appeal of the building. Herringbone is a style of brickwork used for non-structural or decorative purposes. In this case the load of the upper storey is borne by the timber frames.

Lord Melbourne, as he became, had an interesting personal life – in 1812 his wife, Lady Caroline Ponsonby had a scandalous affair with the licentious Lord Byron, although it does not appear to have held Lord Melbourne back politically. As with many of the eminent Victorians they did lead interesting social lives.

Prime Minister for seven years, he was in power at the commencement of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1837. It is said that she trusted him greatly and they developed a close friendship. He even had a private apartment at Windsor Castle.

The Lamb Inn at 444 Collins St, Melbourne was partially demolished in 1852 and remodelled as the Clarendon Family Hotel. In 1860 it was demolished and Scott’s Hotel was constructed on site.

Scotts Hotel Melbourne

Scott’s Hotel – “The city home of country people”.

Many old advertisements for rural properties were conducted in the lounge of Scott’s Hotel, as it was popular with country people visiting Melbourne.

In 1961 Scott’s Hotel was demolished and the site of the oldest licenced hotel in Melbourne became an eleven storey office tower

444 Collins Melbourne

444 Collins Street, Melbourne today.

Now regarded as a “B” Grade office complex it was purchased by the Cohen family of Godfrey’s vacuum cleaner fame in 2010 for a mere $18.3 million. They sold to a Chinese investor in 2015 for $34 million. 

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