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Esplanade Vaults

South | S03

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 & 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 seaside 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 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: Thursday 3 & Thursday 1 January 10am-4pm

  • What's Open: All parts of the building

  • Special Note: Venue has uneven floors and a dark environment

  • Tour Type: S03

  • Access: Pram accessible, Limited mobility

  • Building Type: Industrial

  • Year Built: 1891

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

  • Photo Credit: City of Port Phillip


Jacka Boulevard St Kilda 3182, VIC


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