The Royce Hotel site has a rich history of service to travellers and tourists that begins in Melbourne’s glorious Golden Age when the city was dubbed “Marvellous Melbourne”. Prior to the grand building that stands here today, resided one of Melbourne’s many Cable Car Engine Houses.
From 1888 it serviced holidaymakers and day-trippers that would ride cable cars all the way from the CBD to the city’s playground at St Kilda Beach. The ingenious tram system gripped onto steel cables and was hauled by gigantic wheels across the various engine houses on the route, a completely manual system. Located on the city’s most prestigious boulevard, the leafy St Kilda Road, the Engine House was at the heart of an intricate transport web with more than 600 tram sets travelling along 75km of track and covering 17 routes. Melbourne and Melburnians were going places. At its peak the city had one of the largest cable car networks in the world, alongside San Francisco and Chicago.
With the advent of the electric tram and the revolutionary motorcar, nicknamed the “horseless carriage”, the huge cable wheels finally ground to a halt in the 1920s. The abandoned Engine House was put on the market and levelled to make way for the landmark building that was to become the Royce Hotel. The original cable tunnels and wheel pits still reside under the floors of the Royce, an echo of the building’s enterprising past and commitment to world-class travel experiences.