Benalla: then and now

by Kate C
Publish date
15 December 2010
Comments (16)

On our recent trip to Benalla Art Gallery, Nicole and I took the chance to track down some of the town's historic buildings that appear in Collections Online. We wanted to see how they had fared over the years.

The State Electricity Commission (SEC) building was flanked by some impressive automobiles back in 1948:

State Electricity Commission, Benalla Glass Negative - State Electricity Commission, Benalla, Victoria, 9 August 1948 (MM 011402)
Source: Museum Victoria

We spotted it on Main Street now housing a second-hand bookstore. A local helpfully shouted, "that's the SEC building!" at us from his ute as he drove by.

Benalla SEC building Benalla SEC building in 2010.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria

This hotel was a little bit harder to find because it looks quite different these days.

Floodwaters around a Benalla hotel Negative - Floodwaters around a Benalla hotel, September 1921 (MM 6159).
Source: Museum Victoria

We spotted it near the railway station. The friendly owner confirmed that it's the same building pictured in the 1921 photograph, but it had a significant facelift following a fire not long after that picture was taken. The basic bones of the building are still there, even though its iron lace verandahs are long gone.

Victoria Hotel in Benalla in 2010. Victoria Hotel in Benalla in 2010.
Image: Nicole Alley
Source: Museum Victoria

We ran out of time before we could locate the Farmers Arms Hotel, but I've since found a recent picture of it on flickr that shows it too has lost its decorative iron lace but is otherwise much the same.

Farmers Arms Hotel, Benalla A bullock team and car outside the Farmers Arms Hotel, Benalla, pre-1940 (MM 001773).
Source: Museum Victoria

We'd love to hear any stories about these buildings from Benalla locals. Anyone know the character leading the bullock train?

UPDATE: Several excellent commenters have identified the building as the Bank of New South Wales, not a hotel. More info on the Benalla building update post from October 2013.


Collections Online: search for Benalla

Comments (16)

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Ben L 15 December, 2010 12:35
it would be great to upload historical photos to sepia town so others can see the reference between the existing and past Similarly, Microsoft's photosynth is looking at using archived and flickr photos to add information to their augmented reality mapping software:
Lucy 16 December, 2010 09:13
Great idea! I'm always fascinated by comparison shots like these. That photo with the floodwaters is amazing.
Kim 16 December, 2010 10:47
Really interesting to see, hope the floods hold off this time round!
frank taylor 29 August, 2011 17:05
the bullock driver could be my grandpa thomas howard ashton , he was born 1914 i recall seeing a pic just like this one as a lil boy , but all has been lost in the ash wednesday fires .
kathleen mackley 5 March, 2012 07:33
i liked you display of old and new photos of benalla that you put on your site,i used to live in benalla ,i lived at 13 Ryan st ,in the railway area of the town ,my dad worked on the railway as a ganger,we lived ib benalla from 1952 to 1958
DEBBIE RILEY 11 May, 2012 22:05
Mandy Albert 8 June, 2013 19:55
Hi I am looking for the Lauritz family who I believe may have once lived at Benalla in the 1930's - 1960's more particularly Rupert and Jill Lauritz who I believe once had something to do with the Benalla Hotel. They had 2 daughters Chistene and Pauline My uncle Vince Preston in Ispwich Qld. Jill's cousin has been looking for her as they lost touch. I am not sure which is now the Benalla Hotel. Are you able to help me here as to whether anyone knew the Lauritz and what became of them. They also lived in Ripponlea Melbourne.
Margaret 15 April, 2013 16:09
The hotel that was hard to find is in fact the Bank of New South Wales (Westpac today)and NOT the Victoria hotel. The bank was pulled down in the 50's or very early 60's. Hope this information is of help!
Fiona Austin 25 August, 2013 20:17
Hello, my name is Fiona and we are looking at buying the Benalla Victoria Hotel. l was interested in asking you about your above comment/ The pic with the flooded building, that people we suggesting it was the victoria hotel, is it actully not the hotel? Very curious abour its history. Thank you Fiona
Terry 28 September, 2013 11:20
Spot on Fiona
Terry 28 September, 2013 11:23
Spot on Margaret
marj 4 June, 2013 16:26
re 1921 picture- picture is possibly of Bank of NSW, cnr Bridge and Carrier streets
John Duncan-Watt 18 October, 2013 10:46
The photo of the building flooded in 1921 is in fact the Bank of NSW building. I have a picture of my great grandfather (Thomas Lambert) in 1914 standing in front of this building as this was his posting as a Manager with the Bank of NSW. Standing with him on the road and on the upstairs verandah are his adult children and a recent addition to the family - the marriage of Thomas Lambert's daughter Laura Irene Lambert to Sidney Paul Morris. If you would like a copy of that photo please let me know and i can email it to you
Kate C 28 October, 2013 13:25
Thank you Margaret, Marj and John for the info on the Bank of NSW - we're very glad to correct the information in our records. 
Lynda Turner 29 October, 2013 08:42
Enjoyed seeing these photos of my old home town. Thank you so much for sharing them. I now live in the Hastings area of NSW and the local museums are putting together books with before and after photographs. Seems most of us enjoy the memories as we get older.
Betty Pilgrim 5 December, 2014 16:06
It looks as if the hotel in flood is in fact the Farmers Arms Hotel, Benella - looks very similar!
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