It was the ultimate secure haven to house the bounty of gold rush prospectors and wealthy families from the era of Marvellous Melbourne. It was also a place for local businesses and migrant families to use to secure their valuable and treasured possessions.
To protect the thousands of safety deposit boxes, a specially-designed vault was shipped from Liverpool, England with the rest of the building built around it.
The building’s strong room has walls a metre thick, made of undrillable steel. For further protection, as befitting a gothic structure, the building also has a moat underground to deter anyone thinking of tunnelling in.
Now, after nearly 130 years, any ghosts will have a new landlord. As part of wider moves to simplify its business, ANZ will stop offering this Safe Deposit Box service and will hand over the building to a secure storage expert to manage any unclaimed boxes.
As families come forward to claim boxes, Costa, Ellul and colleague Magro are seeing some interesting parts of Australian history come to light – including the Victorian gold rush.
For Magro this was evident in one particularly memorable deposit box.
“The box contained a cutlery set which looked like it was made entirely out of gold,” she said. “It was so heavy the box had a label advising people not to lift it on their own.”