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Esplanade Vaults

Architect: W B Downe

South | S04

In the 1890s, public transport on St Kilda's Upper Esplanade was upgraded to a new cable tramway, replacing the old horse-drawn omnibus managed by the Melbourne Tramway and Omnibus Company. This project was designed and managed by city surveyor, WB Downe. The Upper Esplanade roadway needed to be widened to accommodate new tram tracks. As part of the embankment works, provision was made for ten shops with arched ceilings and verandahs facing onto the Sea Baths on the Lower Esplanade. The shops sold a range of merchandise suited to the sea-side location, including ice cream, nuts, confectionery, haberdashery and fish and chips. The cable tramway, which ran from Acland Street to St Kilda Station, was deemed a great success, as noted in the St Kilda Council Annual Report, 1891: "The Esplanade Cable Tramway is regarded as perhaps the most satisfactory, and complete in the world, and is greatly appreciated by the travelling public, in and around the metropolis." The shop verandahs were removed in the 1950s, and the site was bricked up when Jacka Boulevard was widened in the 1970s. The remnant structure of these shops is now known as the Esplanade Vaults.

Need to Know

  • Open: Saturday 10am-4pm, Sunday 10am-4pm

  • Heritage Listed: Yes

  • What's Open: Seven remnant shop spaces

  • Tour Type: Self Guided

  • Special Programming: Join David Willis, author of 'The Majestic: Early Apartment Living in St Kilda' to explore the development of flat living in St Kilda. Saturday 30 July, 10am, St Kilda RSL, 88 Acland St, St Kilda. No bookings. Enquiries: [email protected]

  • Building Type: Industrial

  • Facilities: Pram access, Toilets, Food and beverage available

  • Year Built: 1891

  • Tram Stops: Stop 136: Alfred Sq/The Esplanade on routes 3a, 16, 96.


Jacka Boulevard St Kilda 3182, VIC


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