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Victoria - Organisation

St Martin's House (1944 - 2000?)

  • Former St Martin's House, 20 Balwyn Road, Canterbury

    Former St Martin's House, 20 Balwyn Road, Canterbury, 31 January 1998

Anglican, Home, Hostel and Protestant
Alternative Names
  • St Martin's Hostel for Boys (Also known as, c. 1944 - c. 1953)

St Martin's House was established in June 1944, in Burwood Road, Auburn (Hawthorn East) on a site that had previously been St Martin's Home for Boys (1921-1926). In 1953, a new St Martin's House opened on the grounds of St John's Home for Boys in Canterbury. It accommodated boys over the age of 15, who would previously have had to leave St John's when they found jobs. The hostel accommodated child migrants from Britain. In the late 1970s it was converted to a specialist hostel. It would seem that St Martin's Hostel operated until around the early 2000s.


St Martin's House, 'a new hostel for senior boys from children's institutions, sponsored by St John's Home for Boys', was officially opened in June 1944 (The Argus 29 May 1944, p.6).

At St Martin's House:

The boys enjoy greater freedom and personal attention at the hostel. They make some contribution towards their maintenance from their weekly wages, but most of their earnings are banked for their future use or spent in training for a profession or trade (The Argus 12 June 1944, p.6)

In June 1953, St John's Home for Boys launched an appeal to complete 'the first working boys' hostel of its kind in Victoria'. The 'new' St Martin's House was located in a brick building on the grounds of St John's Home for Boys in Balwyn Road, Canterbury. It was opened by Prime Minister Menzies 30 November 1953. Newspapers reported on the event:

The £12,500 hostel is build of oatmeal-coloured bricks and has a white pergola, gaily painted rooms and built-in furniture.

Twenty boys, aged 15 to 19, live in the hostel and all have jobs. They pay between £2 5/ and £3 5/ for board, do the washing up, their laundry (in a washing machine) and iron their own shirts (The Age 30 November 1953, p.4)

The opening of St Martin's House marked the 'first step of a rebuilding programme' at St John's Home, according to the chairman of the board of management, Mr Caldwell.

He stated that 1 in every 4 boys accommodated at St Martin's House would be a British migrant (St John's Home was one of the institutions in Victoria to receive child migrants from Britain).

A Department of Human Services publication states that in 1978, St Martin's was converted to a 'specialist hostel' but does not provide further details (Jenkinson, Volume One, 2001). St Martin's House was listed in the Department's 'Approved Community Services Register' in 2000/2001 (Jenkinson, Volume Two, 2001).


1944 - 1953
Address - St Martin's House was located at 791 Burwood Road, Auburn (Hawthorn East). Location: Auburn
1953 - 2000?
Address - St Martin's House was located at 20 Balwyn Road, Canterbury. Location: Canterbury

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Former St Martin's House, 20 Balwyn Road, Canterbury
Former St Martin's House, 20 Balwyn Road, Canterbury
31 January 1998


Sources used to compile this entry: New Boys' Hostel Opened, The Argus, 12 June 1944, 6 pp,; St Martin's House to be opened, The Argus, 29 May 1944, 6 pp,; Church Hostel opened by PM, The Age, 30 November 1953, 4 pp,; James Jenkinson Consulting, Guide to out-of-home care services 1940-2000 - Volume One: Agency Descriptions, Department of Human Services, Unpublished, November 2001,; Guide to Out-of-Home Care Services 1940-2000 - Volume Two: Data Base, with Department of Human Services, November 2001,; Nunn, H.W., 'Social Services (Chapter VIII of A Short History of the Church of England in Victoria 1847-1947)', in Project Canterbury, Issued by the Editorial Committee of the Centenary Celebrations, Melbourne Diocese, 1947, Project Canterbury, 1999,

Prepared by: Cate O'Neill