Nutritionist & Life Coach
Meeting all requirements to call myself so (i.e. none)
Published April 19th 2012
A comment from a reader on my Stags Head Hotel review prompted me to do a little research on the two abandoned pubs just down the road from the previously mentioned establishment. With my research assistant Google I was able to unearth some quite fascinating facts about the now vacant pub once known as the Britannia Hotel.
The Britannia Hotel, Williamstown
A hotel was first constructed on the site in 1867 which became the Britannia Hotel in 1880. In 1910 the hotel was reconstructed and this is the rather desolate looking building that now stands in the back blocks of Williamstown today.
According to a group of underground artists known as "The Empty Space" the hotel is the only one owned by the Australian Defence Force and stands idle now that Fort Gellibrand is no longer in use. Going off on a tangent, The Empty Space is a fascinating concept involving illegal activity (possibly getting into our previously published Top 3 Illegal Things to do in Melbourne). The Britannia Hotel was the site of one of the Empty Spaces "exhibitions" in the early 2000's. Visit this site for a fascinating photo tour of what you could find in the Britannia Hotel since it closed its doors (the hotel's piano is still there though probably not in tune). For more on the Empty Space you can read this article in The Age.
Closed for business"wrap="0
Certainly the hotel is a relic of the times when Williamstown was a port busy with ship traffic and its related commerce rather than present times where it is a haven for the yachts of the wealthy. Back when there was an extra stop on the Williamstown line the Britannia probably had more chance of receiving custom. Too far from the Nelson Place precinct to attract any of the customer base that flock to Williamstown's waterfront on a sunny day, having a hotel on the site is clearly impractical given the competition nearby and the lack of surrounding businesses.
The Britannia in fact resides in about 3.2 hectares of land (that also includes the former Oriental Hotel, known also as the Builders Arms and the Willy Tavern) that has been the subject of strenuous debate in recent years amongst local residents, the Hobsons Bay Council and a potential developer. Given its prime location near the water and the real estate values of Williamstown, a proposed high rise development would clearly make someone very wealthy.
The former Oriental Hotel
Although heritage listed there is every chance that the Britannia will soon either be a boutique venue in a new development or simply knocked down to make way for progress. At present it simply stands as a rather lonely monument to a bygone era.