Skelton’s “ORIENTAL” Building - circa 1850

See the presentation on 4  August 2014 to Heritage Council (slideshow)


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The Oriental Hotel was first built in 1850 or 1851

  1. BulletThe period of construction is Pre-Separation ie before 1st July 1851 when the Colony of Victoria separated from the Colony of NSW

  2. BulletRemnant Pre-Separation buildings are very rare in Victoria

  3. BulletBenjamin Skelton a Customs Boatman and Property Developer built a Grand Large Dwelling House in Early Victorian Regency Style with a flat roof and parapet - as it is unnamed we are calling it “Skelton Oriental Building”

  4. BulletImagine the views from the rafters of this house!

  5. BulletAfter Skelton built his house and outhouses, in June 1851 he borrowed £180 with a mortgage from a building society to build an investment property (or properties)

  6. BulletDuring the early Gold Rush - November 1852 Edward Snell, artist, engineer, surveyor and adventurer stayed in Williamstown at a boarding house with room for 27 people in one room!  No other building in Williamstown at the time could have accommodated so many in one room.

  7. BulletSnell also is the artist whose 1852 drawing became the 1854 Quarrill Lithograph of Williamstown

  1. BulletIn March 1853 Benjamin Skelton died and his wife inherited his property valued at about £800

  2. BulletIn April 1853 Skelton’s widow Sarah married Henry Cox (under a month after her husband’s death)

  3. BulletIn September 1853 the Coxes cleared the mortgage with the building society by repaying £180 and acquire back Title Deeds to Allotment 8 land

  4. BulletAlso in September 1853 two lots are subdivided and sold by the Coxes. Lot 2 with a building on it Skelton Investment Building (later to become Union Dining Rooms) was sold at the price which Benjamin Skelton contracted to before he died

  5. BulletFrom 1853 when the Coxes married the private boarding house became known as Cox’s Family Hotel.

  6. BulletIn 1854 Henry Cox mortgages the part of Allotment 8 he and Sarah still own for conversion into a grand hotel which would later become The Barkly Arms

  7. BulletWhen building works were delayed and the Bank called in its money, a series of legal cases occurred which finally bankrupted the Coxes by 1860. 

See the Save Williamstown (Nominator) submission 5 July 2014 for more information....

Submission by Save Williamstown.pdf

& Brian Haynes Appendix 7 of SW Submission Additional Material.pdf

Other community submitters are V Green Submission to HC re Oriental -VGreen.pdf,  R&V Coghill Submission to HC - Coghill.pdf, N Roberts Submission to HC - Roberts.pdf

See the presentation on 4  August 2014 to Heritage Council (slideshow)

The Developer will be opposing the Save Williamstown & Community submissions at Heritage Council of Victoria. It will be fiercely and ironically debated with the lawyers representing a 21st Century Property Developer who wants to act on the Permit to Demolish approved by VCAT in December 2013

The Executive Director of Heritage Victoria on the basis of the 53 objectors submissions in April still continues to NOT recommend listing in the State Heritage Register - see his report of 7th July 2014  here

Save Williamstown hopes that the new information which dates the building c1850 or 1851 will cause a change in recommendation at the last minute!! We can but hope.

Also original nomination 2013 and submission April 2014 together with associated documents can be downloaded on this webpage

Please contact info at if you would like to view Appendixes to the Save Williamstown submission as they are too large to place on the website or

better still lend your support by attending

Heritage Council of Victoria Hearing Rooms

1 Spring St, Melbourne

4-6 August 2014 from 9.30am to 5pm

NEW HERITAGE FACTS found in the State Library & PROV 
May and June 2014 were presented to VHC Presentation_Oriental_VHC.html

The Nomination by Save Williamstown could not have been completed without the valuable research by Brian Haynes.  Save Williamstown would also like to thank D Small, R Coghill, V Coghill, N Roberts, C Yeats, S Orange and C Gaud and many others who have helped with research

Local Historian Brian Haynes research reveals an interesting and significant history of the old hotel known as the Oriental Hotel on the corner of Ann St and Nelson Place.