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Bennetts Lane

Bennetts Lane, or Bennett Lane as it was originally called, runs north off Little Lonsdale Street between Russell and Exhibition streets. It was probably named for Robert Bennett MLA, Mayor of Melbourne 1861-2. As early as 1860, the lane contained the premises of John Brenssell, baker and pastry cook, although the lane was soon filled with manufacturing and processing workshops, stables, and a glass foundry. Some of the early buildings that housed these industries remain in the alley today. At the start of the twentieth century, Bennetts Lane was sordid and poorly lit. Police reports document complaints about drunken vagrant men and women in the alleys of the vicinity, and the Chinese residents of Exploration Lane reported frequent robberies and disturbances. In 1928, Bennetts Lane also contained a Salvation Army soup kitchen. In 2008, Bennetts Lane still offers little to look at, but at its far end a popular jazz club has been named in its honour.

Edwina Byrne

Sands & McDougall’s commercial and general Melbourne directory, Sands & McDougall, Melbourne, 1860. Details
'Bennetts Lane, H7822, File 1757', in Victorian Heritage Register On-Line, 2000, http://www.doi.vic.gov.au/doi/hvolr.nsf. Details
Bate, Weston, Essential but unplanned: The story of Melbourne's lanes, State Library of Victoria and the City of Melbourne, Melbourne, 1994. Details