Collingwood Notables Database
Publican, brewer, land sub-divider
To Patrick Coyle we owe the lasting pleasure of the delightfully-decorated Albion Hotel on the corner of Smith and Perry streets, and the striking group of four two-storey shops which are its neighbours. Coyle was first heard of in Collingwood in 1869 as the resident publican of the Grace Darling Hotel in Smith Street, and later became the owner and publican of the Albion Hotel.
Coyle would have become aware of an extensive landholding which occupied the Smith Street block between Johnston Street and Perry Street. not a long way north of his workplace and residence at the Grace Darling. The land belonged to prominent local resident and founder of Melbourne, MLC John Pascoe Fawkner. On Fawkner’s death in 1869 the properties passed to his wife Eliza, who briefly continued to live in their eight-roomed house and let the neighbouring property. By the end of 1872 Coyle was the owner of all her properties. By the beginning of 1874 the building on the corner of Perry Street had been demolished, the Albion Hotel, with its bunches of grapes adorning the façade, was under construction, and Coyle was about to employ Patrick Davern, probably his father-in-law, as its first landlord.
The two-storey building shown in the early 1880s photo immediately to the north of the Albion Hotel was let to Joseph Wigg, a tobacconist and dealer in fancy goods, and later to Henry Bradley. Around 1885 Coyle built two two-storey shops to the north, then demolished the pictured building and its attached single-storey structure, and built two more matching shops. He subdivided the rest of the land (towards Johnston Street) into eight building blocks. Four of these were eventually purchased by Thomas Stanford, who constructed another impressive group of Smith Street two-storey shop/residences which remain as the Stanford Buildings at numbers 332-338.
Meanwhile Coyle had another string to his bow, the Royal Mint Brewery in the city, which he operated initially in partnership with John Anderson between 1872 and 1875 when he became the sole proprietor. In that year, his ale won a first prize at the Victoria Exhibition. The business continued until 1884 when he put up for sale the plant, horses, hogsheads and office furniture. He had ceased being the publican at the Grace Darling around 1880, and took over as licensee (as well as owner) of the Albion Hotel in 1883.
What sort of man was Coyle? He has been referred to as a ‘genial and kind-hearted host’, while his gravestone describes him as ‘a kind and affectionate father’. He sounds like a natty dresser, as his probate documents listed his gold watch and chain, ring, scarf pin and stud. He was treasurer of the Collingwood Lodge of the Order of St Andrew’s, a lodge for people of Scottish origin which met at the Grace Darling, and a committee member of the St Joseph’s Lodge of the Irish-Australian Benefit Society. He was a Catholic, was fond of a drink, and must have had a keen eye for a business opportunity.
While he was living in the Grace Darling Hotel, Coyle’s children were born, one died in infancy, and his wife died two months later. In 1887, while the three surviving children were still minors, Coyle was declared of unsound mind and admitted to the Yarra Bend Asylum. A guardian, Thomas Forbes, was appointed. Unsurprisingly, as a relatively young man, Coyle had not made a will, and when he died the following year, Forbes continued to administer the estate. Despite substantial mortgages, bills for his maintenance in the Yarra Bend Asylum for the Insane, and boarding expenses for his children who now resided in Richmond, his estate was still of considerable value. It was kept in trust until 1894 when his youngest surviving son Thomas came of age. The property was then auctioned, although a factory at the rear, 5 Bedford Street, remained in the family until 1909.
Two vacant blocks remained, and were eventually occupied early in the twentieth century by single storey shops. These were replaced in the interwar period along with Bradley’s shop, but the general streetscape of this section of the once-grand shopping strip remains impressively Victorian. Sadly, the demands of twentieth century car parking and modern commerce have meant all these buildings lost their original verandas and most of their ground floor window shop fronts; in more recent years even the largely original upper levels are increasingly subject to vandalism by graffitists.
Stanford Buildings c. 1887
|Birth Date||Birth Place|
|Spouse Name||Date of Marriage||Children|
|Catherine Davern, c. 1848-27 February 1876||1868||Mary c. 1869, Edward Passey 1871, John Thomas 1873-1909, William 1875-75.|
|Home Street||Home City||Status of Building|
|114 Smith Street||Collingwood||Extant|
|314 Smith Street||Collingwood||Extant|
|Catholic||Irish-Australian Catholic Benefit society, St Joseph’s Lodge, no. 5; Collingwood Lodge of the Order of St Andrew|
|Death Date||Death Place||Cemetery|
|3 September 1888||Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, Kew||MGC|
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