Ballarat Hotel (Lydiard Street)

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For other hotels with the same or similar names, see Ballarat Hotel.
Ballarat Hotel
Bath's Ballarat Hotel, c.1862
Town Ballarat
Street Lydiard Street
Opened June 1853
Known dates 1853-1860
Other names also known as Bath's Hotel
Demolished Relocated

The Ballarat Hotel was a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, 1853 - 1860>. The hotel was also known Bath's Hotel. It later became Craig's Royal Hotel.

Site[edit | edit source]

The Ballarat Hotel was on the west side of Lydiard Street South, Ballarat, now numbered as 10 Lydiard Street South.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

The hotel was the first licensed hotel on the Ballarat goldfields.[2] Thomas Bath was granted a license on 1 July 1853 for the Ballarat Hotel.[2] The hotel was renamed Craig's Royal Hotel some time after it was purchased by Walter Craig.

“The first land sold in the Ballarat township, now (1870) the borough, was in November, 1852, when Mr Thos. Bath purchased Craig’s blocks, Nos 1 and 2 for business occupation. Cobb’s Corner (Mark’s) and the present town half site were sold at the same time, and bought by Mr Robert Reeves, who, however, forfeited his deposit. In the following year the land was put up again, and Mr Bath bought his block for £250; while the Town Hall lot was bought by Mr P. M. Welsh for £202, and the deposit again forfeited. Mr Bath, however, stuck to his blocks, and built the first hotel in Ballarat (Craig’s) in May, 1853, and it was licensed in June of that year. At this time there was no other hotel between Buninyong, eight miles north-east and Lexton, twenty miles west. Mr Bath’s (hotel (Craig’s) was of wood, in one storey, and, says our history, is now (1870) a private dwelling on Soldier’s Hill, while the site of the original hotel is now occupied by the permanent portion of the hotel now known as Craig’s Royal hotel. The clock which was in the tower of the old building was the first public clock ever erected in Ballarat."[3]

The hotel builder was Mr. James Malcolm:

The late Mr James Malcolm, who resided for many years in Seymour crescent, Soldiers Hill, was one of the pioneer builders and contractors of Ballarat. In the early fifties he erected Bath's hotel, the first public house built in Ballarat West.[4]

History[edit | edit source]

Biddle's Saw Mills supplied timber for Bath’s Hotel in 1853.[5]

At some time in the 1850's, a tiger escaped from its cage next to the hotel:

TIGER IN THE STREET. EAST CAPTURE IN BALLARAT. AN INCIDENT OF THE FIFTIES. "When a young tiger escaped from its cage at Ballarat in the ‘fifties’ he was captured and brought back without any of the fuss which marked the securing of Wallace, the lion which got free from the Opera House, Melbourne, on Saturday," remarked Mr Graham, Minister for Agriculture, yesterday. The tiger, a young Bengal one, Mr Graham explained, was standing in its wheeled cage—portion of a circus menagerie—in front of Bath’s (now Craig’s) hotel, in Lydiard street, when it man aged to make its escape. It ran along some little distance, and entered a shop. A raw-boned young Irishman entered the shop shortly afterwards, and, noticing the tiger, thought that it was a rare specimen of a dog. Taking off his belt, he made it into a collar for the tiger. The shopkeeper told the young Irishman that the owner of the "dog" was down at Bath's hotel, and that he probably would give him a hand some reward if he brought the animal along. The Hibernian said he would, take the “dog”, to its master, at any rate, and started off. By this time a small crowd had gathered. The crowd looked frightened and ready to run, and the young tiger was cowed. It was only when the animal was restored to its cage that the young Irishman realized "what kind of a baste he had been hobnobbing with," as one of his friends expressed it. "l saw the tiger afterwards performing at Pleasant Creek, when he had grown up," added Mir Graham.[6]

In 1855, after mining in the city had been restricted, Thomas Bath allowed miners to sink a shaft in front of the hotel:

In consequence of the late restriction by the authorities here, pending an appeal to His Excellency, relative to shepherding and sinking above the township boundary, in the vicinity of Lydiard street, the shepherds have in general left their claims pro tem. Mr Bath has, however, granted them permission to try their luck on the ground in front of his hotel, and this morning a claim was marked out in the presence of a numerous body of miners, and before noon the intended shaft had been taken down several feet. The community will, ere long, therefore, have an opportunity of satisfying themselves as to whether any lead does extend across Lydiard street, running westward. This is rather an important feature, and Mr Bath deserves the thanks of the miners for his ready compliance with their wishes.[7]

In December 1856 a man was gaoled after violent behavior outside the hotel:

John Fitzpatrick, was charged with creating a disturbances the public street. Sergeant Robinson deposed that on Monday about 4 o'clock the prisoner was near Bath's Hotel, and was challenging people to fight, and behaving in a violent manner. He arrested the prisoner, who resisted him, and he was obliged to use the baton. The prisoner was fined £5 or in default of payment one month's imprisonment. The prisoner intimated that he would "take it out," meaning that he would rather remain in prison than pay the money, and a warrant was accordingly made out for his committal to gaol.[8]

The hotel was offered for sale in April 1857:

BATH'S HOTEL, BALLARAT, FOR SALE. To Wine and Spirit Merchants, Capitalists, Speculators, Trustees, Investment Societies, the Public generally of Victoria and the surrounding Colonies. HIGHLY IMPORTANT SALE OF THE MOST VALUABLE TOWN PROPERTY ON BALLARAT. For Sale, per Private Contract, the first-established Hotel on the Gold fields of Australia, universally acknowledged, and has well earned the enviable reputation of being the best Hotel, in the best situation, and doing the most lucrative business of any Hotel in the Colonies. W. C. SMITH has much pleasure in announcing that he is honored with positive instructions from the proprietor, Thos. Bath, Esq., who is retiring from public business, to Sell, per private contract, those truly magnificent buildings, known through out the whole of the Australasian Colonies as Standing indisputably on the most commanding, valuable, and central site that could possibly have been chosen on the Metropolis of the Gold Fields, viz., Ballarat.

The Hotel has a frontage to Lydiard-street of 120 feet by a depth of 100 feet, the Ground has a depth of 330 feet and a frontage to Armstrong-street of 100 feet : the Hotel has a grand and imposing front. On the first floor is The Bar, measuring 43 by 18 feet, which, for elegance of style, is second to none in the Colonies, being most superbly finished with fittings of the richest description. In front of the building are Two Offices, one let to an engineer and surveyor, the other to a solicitor. Leading through two entrance halls and pas sages, which, extend to the length of 227 feet, are private sitting-rooms, with bed-rooms attached ; four parlors, fitted in the most recherche style ; besides a large and commodious Commercial Room, 24 by 17 feet...On the same floor are twenty two bed-rooms, sixteen of which are newly erected, lathed and plastered throughout.

There is also a New Stone and Brick Building, on the ground floor of which are the pantries, scullery, and boot-room, a large kitchen, containing a splendid cooking range, and every requisite for the culinary department. The floors of this building are of dressed stone. The upper floor of this building is a most Magnificent Dining Room, 46 by 22 feet, fitted up in the most gorgeous style. On the second floor is an extensively patronised Billiard Room, containing two billiard tables. This room is, without doubt, the most fashionable resort on Ballarat. From this room is access to a Beautiful Balcony, which embraces one of the finest panoramas of pleasing and varied scenery, taking in the whole of Ballarat East and a number of the principal leads. On the second and third floors are a number of additional sleeping apartments. The whole of the bed-rooms in this favorite establishment, for the taste with which they are fitted, and the comfort of their arrangements, have most deservedly obtained them the encomiums of all visitors.

There are stables, containing seventy-five stalls, paved with stone, &c., with hay-loft, &c., complete. A handsome Coach Office has been erected, at which parties are booked to all parts of the Colony ; from fifteen to twenty coaches arrive and leave daily. Be longing to the Hotel is a splendid Weigh-bridge, which the farmers from our unequalled agricultural district bring into constant requisition. Opposite the bridge is the office of Mr Wm. Waterhouse, Horse and Cattle Salesman, and at the back of the Hotel are erected splendid yards for wild cattle. There is a pump in the yard capable of sending water to any part of the building. A clock in the turret adds to the convenience of the establishment. In fact, the present proprietor bas spared no exertion or expense in keeping pace with the times, as the unrivalled business the Hotel now commands shows how well he has succeeded. Any one who has visited, this establishment must have been astonished at the amount of business concentrated there, coaches, cabs, &c., arriving and departing crowded with passengers, at all hours of the day, the street full of drays loaded with every description of produce, waiting their turn at the weigh-bridge, the crowded bar, and nearly every room engaged : in one you find a party of miners dividing their gold ; in another a committee, &c., all farmers, miners, merchants, passengers, cattle buyers and sellers, all adding to the immense business and connection this Hotel has deservedly obtained.

W. C. S. would in conclusion remark, that during tho whole of his professional experience he has never had property placed in his hands that be could recommend with such implicit confidence; he would simply mention that 40 by 70 feet of land opposite has recently changed hands at £1300 sterling,- £2000 has since been offered for the same ground, and been refused ; Mr Bath has also let 16 by 64 feet of depth for £100 a year rent, the lessee erecting his own buildings. Title-Crown Grant. Terms, exceedingly liberal, being one third cash, balance four bills at 6, 12, 18, and 24 months, the last three bearing Bank interest ; thus giving the fortunate purchaser the opportunity of paying two-thirds out of the profits of the business. For all further particulars, and for cards lo view this noble property, apply to W. C. SMITH, Auctioneer and Land Agent, Colonial Land Office, Sturt-street, Ballarat.[9]

On 26 January 1859 the hotel was the venue for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Scottish poet, Robert Burns:

The banquet in honor of the centenary of the birth of the poet Burns was held at Bath's Hotel on Tuesday evening, when about fifty gentlemen sat down to a table well served with the customary edibles and their garnishings. The tables were decorated with tasteful bouquets of flowers, and the room was hung with the British emblems and mottoes appropriate to the place and the occasion. The Chair was occupied by Dr Stewart, the Chairman of the Western Municipality, and the Vice-Chair by Mr Dickson, of Dickson Bros. As soon as the preliminaries were over in the shape of ample testimony to the goodness of the viands, the more serious business of the evening commenced...[10]

In July 1860 a man was fined for breaking a billiard cue at the hotel:

Hadley v Van Hemert, for destroying a billiard cue, the property of plaintiff, as baillie for Mr Craig, of Bath's Hotel.[11]

In 1888, Ballarat historian W. B. Withers, mentioned in a newspaper column that the hotel had not been demolished, but relocated to another site:

Butcher Eltringham, who occupies the old cast-off Bath’s hotel, and is as ruddy and succulent as his own juicy beef, still lingers near where he has been for a whole generation of years, and he will gladly talk to one of the old days about them in richly reminiscent speech that gurgles with the music of the tumbling, bubbling becks of his native Northumbria.[12]

Eltringham's butcher shop was in Doveton Street.[13]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

  • Timber Merchants and Sawmill Proprietors of Ballarat, meeting, 12 January 1857.[14]

The People[edit | edit source]

  • Thomas Bath was the first publican in 1853. He was still publican in June 1857.[15]
    • In 1856 he is listed as publican in the Geelong, Ballarat and Creswick's Creek Directory.[16]
    • He was granted a night license in June 1857.[17]
  • In June 1858, Walter Craig's license application was postponed for one week:

Walter Craig, Bath's Hotel. Mr Randall supported the application. Postponed, on account of absence of applicant through illness.[18]

  • It was granted one week later.[19]

Legacies[edit | edit source]

A replica of the hotel's stables have been built at Sovereign Hill.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Craig's Royal Hotel website
  2. 2.0 2.1 Hargreaves, John. Ballarat Hotels Past and Present, pg. 2, 1943, Ballarat
  3. 1923 'CRAIG’S HOTEL', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 16 October, p. 1. , viewed 18 Jun 2020,
  4. 1904 'MEMORIAL OF MR. AND MRS. MALCOLM.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 29 January, p. 1. , viewed 20 Jun 2020,
  5. accessed 15 March 2013.
  6. 1911 'TIGER IN THE STREET.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 14 February, p. 1. , viewed 20 Jun 2020,
  7. 1855 'BALLARAT.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 13 October, p. 6. , viewed 16 Jul 2018,
  8. 1856 'POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 6 December, p. 3. , viewed 24 Dec 2018,
  9. 1857 'Bath's Hotel for sale.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 9 April, p. 3, viewed 28 December, 2015,
  10. 1859 'FESTIVAL AT BATH'S HOTEL.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 26 January, p. 2. , viewed 18 Jun 2020,
  11. 1860 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 July, p. 4. , viewed 09 Apr 2021,
  12. 1888 'BALLARAT CHRONICLES AND PICTURES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 16 July, p. 4. , viewed 12 Jan 2017,
  13. 1876 'No title', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1883; 1914 - 1918), 19 May, p. 2. , viewed 18 Jun 2020,
  14. 1857 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 9 January, p. 4. , viewed 08 May 2019,
  15. 1857 'GENERAL ANNUAL LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 13 June, p. 2. , viewed 10 Aug 2017,
  16. The Geelong, Ballarat, and Creswick's Creek commercial directory and almanac for 1856 : with a map of Geelong, 1856.
  17. 1857 'LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 27 June, p. 3. , viewed 25 Dec 2018,
  18. 1858 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 June, p. 2. , viewed 25 Jul 2019,
  19. 1858 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT. Friday, 18th June.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 21 June, p. 2, viewed 25 October, 2014,

External Links[edit | edit source]