Buck's Head Hotel (Grenville Street)

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For other hotels with the same or similar names see Buck's Head Hotel.
Buck's Head Hotel
Buck's Head Hotel, 1873.
Town Ballarat
Street Cnr. Grenville Street and Bridge Street
Closed 5 September 1960
Known dates 1862-1960
Demolished Demolished 1960's
Google maps Google map link

The Buck's Head Hotel was a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, <1862-1967.

Site[edit | edit source]

The hotel was on the south east corner of Bridge Street, and Grenville Street. The site is now a Priceline pharmacy.

Map Ref:-37.562421, 143.860846

Background[edit | edit source]

In 1948 alterations were made to the building, to provide 22 bedrooms (20 public) and dining room to hold 52.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

In February 1863 a man was charged after stealing boots from a customer at the hotel:

A BOOT FANCIER - Alexander Coburn was charged with stealing a pair of boots, the property of Michael Dempsey. The prosecutor deposed that on the preceding day he purchased a pair of boots for 18s. He went into a hotel, but did not know the name of it, as he was a stranger in town. In this hotel the prisoner made a little free with witness, and induced him to "shout." Shortly afterwards witness left the public house, and went into another, the prisoner following him. The boots were in a parcel, under under one of witness's arms. He left the boots the counter while away for a few minutes, but on his return found that boots and the prisoner had appeared. Alfred Hyde deposed that he was barman at the Bucks Head Hotel. On the previous evening he saw the prisoner and the prosecutor in the bar. The prosecutor went out, and while he was away, the prisoner took the boots. Detective Hudson deposed to the arrest of the accused, who denied that he had taken the boots. The prisoner in reply the charge said, he took the boots, but did not steal them. The Bench sent the prisoner to gaol three months.[2]

In June 1864 James Dodds advertised his intention to apply for the license:

TO the Bench of Magistrates of Ballarat East. -I, JAMES DODDS, now residing at the Buck's Head Hotel, in the borough of Ballarat East, in the county of Grant, do hereby give notice, that it is my intention to apply to the justices sitting in Court of Petty Sessions, to be holden at Ballarat East on the 1st day of July, 1864, for a Certificate authorising the issue of a Publican's License for a house situated in the parish of Ballarat East, known as the Buck's Head Hotel, containing six bedrooms, five sitting-rooms, bar, dining-room, kitchen, &c The house is the property of J. B. Humffray, rented by me, and is now licensed under the name of the Buck's Head Hotel. Dated the 16th day of June, 1864. JAMES DODDS.[3]

The hotel was damaged during the Ballarat flood of October 1869:

Mr Dodds, of the Buck's Head hotel, was also another victim, but it is hard to say what he has lost yet, as it is mostly in his cellar that the damage has been done. His hotel was flooded, and much inconvenience caused by the water.[4]

The original wooden building was replaced by brick in October 1876:

A great many improvements are going forward in both city and town, here and there. One of the most noticeable, perhaps, is the very extensive addition that is being put to the Buck's Head Hotel, in the main street. The new building, a splendid brick one, will have its front to Grenville-street.[5]

Description in 1882:

This central Hotel contains 26 Bed Rooms, and the largest Dining Room in the town. Every delicacy of the season. Meals, 1s. Private Rooms. F. B. Wilson, Proprietor[6]

The hotel was closed for renovations in 1892 and reopened in December:

At the invitation of Mr F. B. Wilson, who has lately resumed the occupancy of the Buck’s Head hotel, a number of gentlemen assembled yesterday to take part in the re-opening of the bar, which has lately been closed to the public owing to repairs and improvements being effected. Mr Wilson has expended about £650 on the work. The two old side parlors have been removed, and the whole space thrown into the bar. A counter in the shape of a horse shoe occupies a position in the room. The counter is of polished cedar and Kauri, with handsome carved and reeded pilasters, the central panels being enriched with, silver plated shields, bearing the monogram B.H.H. (Buck’s Head hotel), whilst a massive polished brass foot-rail is provided at the foot. The counter top is covered with a dark colored linoleum and edged back and front with a deep moulding of solid nickel. The furnishings on top of the counter are also of polished nickel. On the inner side of the counter there are circular fixtures, with cedar and kauri cupboards below, and shelves carried up above, with turned cedar standards and nickel friezes and brackets. On each side of the counter are cedar and kauri panelled partitions, forming two snug parlors, the top panels of these partitions being enriched with silver-plated stag’s heads. The central fixtures and the partitions are finished on top with handsome cedar and kauri cornices, and surmounted with panels of colored glass in lead fretwork, each panel having a painted buck’s head in the centre. All the doors and windows in the new fixtures are glazed with beautiful colored cathedral glass in lead fretwork, and the furniture is all nickel plated. The external windows have been re-glazed with hand-painted panel in lead fretwork, with deer scenes after Landseer, such as “ The Monarch of the Glen, “The Challenge,” “The Sanctuary,” &c. Handsome porches have been provided to all the external doors in cedar and kauri, the doors being glazed with colored glass. The screen to the Grenville street entrance is particularly effective with its hand-painted glass panels in the fanlights, and richly imbossed plate in the doors; the floor of this porch has been laid with a parquetry of polished woods of various colors and of neat design. Around the walls of the bar is a high dado in cedar, kauri, and in crusta walton, surmounted with mirrors in cedar and nickel frames. The gas fittings, which were made by Messrs Danks and Co. of Melbourne, to order, are very handsome, being rendered effective by the introduction of silver plated stags. Mr Wilson has also had the whole house re-decorated, and to a large extent re-furnished. The whole of the works have been designed by the well-known architect, Messrs James and Piper, who have personally superintended the operations as carried out by the contractors, Messrs Taylor and Ellis. The carpenters' work has been well executed, and gives entire satisfaction, whilst the glasswork is everything that could be desired. Altogether, the appearance of the interior of the Buck’s Head hotel is as attractive as that of any hostelry in the colony. After inspecting the improvements the company adjourned to the parlor, where refreshments were partaken of. Mr Wilson said he was particularly pleased at being in what he regarded as his old home. He would endeavor to give entire satisfaction in the future, so as to merit a continuance of the esteem and respect of the public generally, (Applause.) Mr R. T. Vale, M.L.A., then proposed the toast of “The host,” and in doing so reminded the gathering of his teetotal principles. Nevertheless he considered that if people would have liquor it was just as well to have it in a well conducted and nicely-furnished house. (Applause,) Mr Wilson then proposed “The Architects and Contractors.” The excellence of the work, he said, spoke for itself, and the transformation did credit to the workmen, for whom he requested the contractors to accept a cheque for £5 5s. Messrs Piper and Taylor responded.[7]

Further renovations and extensions were carried out over the next year and completed by September 1893:

Mr F. B. Wilson, the proprietor of the Buck’s Head hotel, has just completed extensive additions to his hostelry by adding to his premises the adjoining property, the greater part of which he has had taken down and reconstructed. The new portion of the hotel is entered through a door off the present hall in Grenville street, and on the ground floor is a spacious commercial room, 24 x 20, dadoed and wainscotted, and with an ornamental wooden ceiling richly decorated in white enamel and gold. In front of this room, on the Bridge street frontage, is a shop, 25 x 20, as present let to the Messrs Parer, the window being arranged most effectively in a manner somewhat different to the ordinary method. In front of the shops, a row of prismatic pavement lights extends right across the frontage affording a splendid light to the basement below, which is a room 49 x 20, almost entirely underground, and which the proprietor intends to fit up at a subsequent date as a summer bar. On the first floor is the billiard room, fitted with two of the best tables in the colony, and which, by an ingenious arrangement of iron girders, are carried independently of the floor. This room is 49 feet x 20 feet, and is 16 feet high, the light for the tables being obtained from lantern lights above them. The seating is got up in cedar and Utrecht velvet, and in of the most luxurious description. The ceiling and wells to lanterns are profusely decorated with wreaths of flowers, vases, scenery, and landscapes. Altogether the appointments are of the newest and most approved description. Adjoining each story lavatories and conveniences have been erected, the former being up with marble lavatories, with silver plated taps and shampooing apparatus. The old No. 2 parlor has been renovated and redecorated and turned into a ladies room, adjoining which has been erected a ladies lavatory, fitted up with a marble lavatory of a most luxurious description. A special feature of the additions is the mode of ventilating by tubes. Sixteen of these tubes are taken from the ceiling of each story and connected through the roof into "Torpedo Ventilators,” thus effectually carrying off all impure air. The lavatories and conveniences are also in a a similar manner; the window also being so arranged that them is a free circulation of fresh air at all times. We understand that the proprietor has spent £2500 in the additions and fittings, and that during the last 12 months he has laid out close on £4000 on additions and alterations, and, no doubt, the proprietor will he amply rewarded by an increase of business. The works were designed by the architects, Messrs Junes and Piper, under whose supervision they were carried out by Messrs Lamont, Styles, and Conroy.[8]

In January 1907 the publican was fined for leaving the bar door open on a Sunday:

Frederick B. Wilson, of the Buck's Head Hotel, was lined £5, with 17/3 costs, at the City Court on Friday, for having his bar door open on Sunday, 16th December, Inspector Balchin informed the bench that the breach was of a merely technical character, and that Mr. Wilson had always conducted his hotel in a most respectable manner.[9]

Advertisement from December 1917:

One of the best known and most popular hostelries in Ballarat is the Buck's Head hotel, famed to visitors far and wide as a comfortable house, and one which stocks the best brands only of ales, wines, and spirits. Under the capable management of Mrs Miller the Buck's Head fully maintains the old reputation.[10]

The hotel was offered for lease in January 1921:

TENDERS CLOSE BUCK'S HEAD HOTEL BALLARAT, In the ESTATE of F. B. WILSON, Deceased. TENDERS for a five years' Lease of this old established Hotel will close at the office of the executors, The Ballarat Trustees, Executors & Agency Company Limited, 101 Lydiard-street Ballarat, on Saturday. 8th January, 1921, at 12 o'clock. Particulars at Her Majesty's Hotel, South Yarra or at the office of the company. JOHN GLASSON, Manager.[11]

In July 1921 the publican was fined for breaches of the licensing laws:

Frank Fiscalini, licensee or the Buck’s Head hotel, admitted three charges of having the bar door open; allowing people on the premises, and trading, on 1st July, at 9.20 p.m.. Mr A. B. Cray appeared for the defence and suggested that the trading charge be withdrawn in order that the license should be not marked. There was not a mark against the house at present. Inspector Hood agreed to the course suggested, and a line of £5 for the bar door charge, and 10/ on allowing people on the premises was imposed. Nine of the twelve men found on the premises on the occasion were present ed: the other three summonses not having been served. Constables Daniels and Cooper gave evidence of having seen the men in the house. In the case of one man, a nephew of the landlord, it was stated that he had gone to see his uncle on business, and his case was dismissed, and all those who appeared were lined 10/, and the absentees £2. The other summonses were extended.[12]

Description in 1938:

Then there is the Buck's Head — in its name a reminiscence of just such an English inn as so many of the early diggers cherished in memory. It was one of the first stone buildings to be erected on the goldfields, and still preserves much of its original aspect.[13]

In February 1938 the publican was in breach of the licensing laws:

Fines of £5 for having the bar door open after hours were imposed on Alexander Ross, licensee of the Buck's Head Hotel.[14]

Perhaps one of the most famous incidents in the history of the hotel took place in May 1954, when a tram jumped the tracks and crashed into the hotel:

TRAM RAMS HOTEL IN BALLARAT MELBOURNE, Sun.-A runaway tram ran 400 yards and crashed into the Buck's Head Hotel in Ballarat, causing hundreds of pounds worth of damage last night. The only passenger, Mrs. J. Cochrane, ran to the back of the tram before the smash and escaped injury. The tram was left unattended in a Ballarat street. It ran down a hill, jumped its tracks and hit the hotel office. The licensee's grandson, Donald Cameron, had just left the office when the tram struck and demolished it.[15]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

The hotel was the venue for many community and company meetings, including:

  • October 1864, Ballarat Butchers' Association, special meeting.[16]
  • October 1865, Farewell dinner to celebrate the departure of John Carruthers, former city engineer of Ballarat East, who was moving to take up a position with the Glenelg Roads Board in South Australia.[17]
  • August 1871, farewell dinner for Mr. Coulls, leaving for Maryborough, Queensland.[18]

Mining[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

Publicans[edit | edit source]

Barman[edit | edit source]

Owners[edit | edit source]

Others[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 1.15 1.16 Buck's Head Hotel, License Card, Public Record Office
  2. 2.0 2.1 1863 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 20 February, p. 4. , viewed 21 Dec 2023, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article72555036
  3. 3.0 3.1 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 22 June, p. 4. , viewed 01 May 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66345878
  4. 1869 'DAMAGE BY THE FLOOD.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 18 October, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE BALLARAT STAR), viewed 02 May 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article112855274
  5. 1876 'BALLARAT.', Advocate (Melbourne, Vic. : 1868 - 1954), 14 October, p. 7. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article170433551
  6. 6.0 6.1 Niven's Guide Book and Souvenir of Ballarat, 1882.
  7. 1892 'BUCK'S HEAD HOTEL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 10 December, p. 4. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article209780228
  8. 1893 'THE BUCK'S HEAD HOTEL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 16 September, p. 1. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article209797023
  9. 9.0 9.1 1907 'COUNTRY NEWS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 5 January, p. 12. (FIRST EDITION), viewed 14 Jun 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article196165097
  10. 10.0 10.1 1917 'BUCK'S HEAD HOTEL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 December, p. 6. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article154752691
  11. 1921 'Advertising', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 5 January, p. 12. , viewed 02 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201702570
  12. 12.0 12.1 1921 'BUCK’S HEAD HOTEL.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 13 July, p. 6. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article211968900
  13. 1938 'Historic Hostelries', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 7 March, p. 13. (Ballarat Centenary Souvenir), viewed 10 Jan 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11165091
  14. 14.0 14.1 1938 'News from the Country', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 23 February, p. 18. , viewed 11 Mar 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article206756718
  15. 1954 'TRAM RAMS HOTEL IN BALLARAT', The West Australian (Perth, WA : 1879 - 1954), 10 May, p. 3. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article49633691
  16. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 October, p. 3. , viewed 05 Oct 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66349145
  17. 1865 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 14 October, p. 2. , viewed 13 Aug 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article112879647
  18. 1871 'MEETINGS, &c., THIS DAY.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1883; 1914 - 1918), 4 August, p. 2. , viewed 29 Jul 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article191431424
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 October, p. 3. , viewed 05 Oct 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66349145
  20. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 22 April, p. 3. , viewed 24 Feb 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66344399
  21. 21.0 21.1 1865 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 December, p. 4. , viewed 04 Oct 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article112865967
  22. 1865 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 2 January, p. 3. , viewed 29 Apr 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66059791
  23. 1862 'BALLARAT EAST LICENSING COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 26 June, p. 4. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66325077
  24. 1867 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 14 January, p. 3. , viewed 06 May 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article1128607231869
  25. Windle, John. 1869, The Ballarat directory, 1869 James Curtis, Ballarat viewed 8 January 2018 http://nla.gov.au/nla.obj-498104018
  26. 1864 'BALLARAT EAST LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 2 July, p. 4. , viewed 01 May 2021, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article66346135
  27. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 December, p. 2. , viewed 27 Apr 2017, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article201608881
  28. 1874 'BALLARAT EAST LICENSING BENCH. ANNUAL MEETING.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 December, p. 4, viewed 26 October, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article208250314
  29. 1876 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 11 August, p. 4. , viewed 30 Jul 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article199829923
  30. 1890 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 October, p. 2. , viewed 10 Jan 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204140135
  31. 1892 'No title.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 8 September, p. 2, viewed 20 September, 2015, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204987094
  32. 1921 'COUNTRY HOTEL TRANSFERS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 8 November, p. 10. , viewed 11 Mar 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article204263136
  33. 1944 'Advertising', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 22 April, p. 15. , viewed 29 Aug 2019, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article11804260
  34. Diane Langmore, 'Humffray, John Basson (1824–1891)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/humffray-john-basson-3818/text6055, published first in hardcopy 1972, accessed online 30 July 2018.
  35. 1914 Victorian Electoral Roll, Ballaarat, Ballaarat west

External Links[edit | edit source]