Craig's Royal Hotel

From Hotels of Ballarat
For hotels with the same or similar names, see Royal Hotel.
Craig's Royal Hotel
Craig's Royal Hotel
Town Ballarat
Street Lydiard Street South
Known dates 1857-2024
Other names Ballarat Hotel
Bath's Hotel
Evidence Building is still standing

Craig's Royal Hotel is a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, <1857-2024.

Site[edit | edit source]

Craig's Hotel is on the west side of Lydiard Street South, Ballarat, now numbered as 10 Lydiard Street South.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

The first hotel on the site was the Ballarat Hotel, also known as Bath's Hotel. This was the first licensed hotel on the Ballarat goldfields.[2] Thomas Bath was granted a licence on 1 July 1853 for the Ballarat Hotel.[2] Walter Craig took over the hotel by September 1857, and it was renamed.[3][4]

In October 1923, the hotel was sold, and Ballarat Star gave a report on its history:

CRAIG’S HOTEL Sold For £30,000 HISTORIC HOSTEL CHANCES HANDS. A LINK WITH OLD BALLARAT. Yesterday that ancient and famous hostelry, Craig’s Hotel, changed hands by private treaty at £30,000, the seller being Mr Frank Herman, and the purchaser Mrs Newton, the present occupier. “Craig’s’’ is a hotel with a history almost as old as Ballarat itself. For instance, few people know that in its spacious back yard stands the cottage in which once resided Adam Lindsay Gordon. This cottage has been adapted into the buildings as part of the sample rooms, and is almost unrecognizable now as a cottage; but it is there. Then, again, in the back yard portion of the old-time Cobb’s stables is a stall wherein Gordon used to keep the horse he loved. Mr John Boss, the veteran gardener of the Hospital, can tell us how in the old days Gordon and his wife used to ride across country from Craig’s farm, near the New Cemetery, and, “taking everything in their stride,’’ go direct to Craig’s and put his horse up at Cobb’s.

That by the way. The original Craig’s was built by the late Thomas Bath, and ancient pictures of Ballarat contain reproductions of the quaint old house with its wooden tower, and opposite which, right in the centre of what is now Lydiard street, stood a big claim with a sluicing plant of the primitive kind, the water of which used to run down Camp Hill into the Yarrowee. Even the Yarrowee Creek, as we now know it, was not where it now is. Mr Thos. Bath, who later held the “Ceres” Station out Learmonth way, was one of the pioneers who could see ahead, and with an intuitive perception he founded the hostelry which is now world famous, and planted it on the obvious site for such a house. After conducting it for some years in the early troublous days of the mining boom in the “roaring fifties and sixties” he sold it to Walter Craig, and from the latter the house took the name which it has always since borne. As a matter of fact, during the Duke of Edinburgh’s visit in 1869 it was re-christened Craig’s “Royal” Hotel, but very few people know it as any thing but “Craig’s.” With the advent of Walter Craig, a fine picturesque personality, “Craig’s” came in to its own. It was the centre of almost everything that happened in his day. The “hounds” used to meet there, and everything in those days used to have its starting point from Craig’s. Hundreds of mining companies were born there, and around the famous old house hangs the atmosphere of romance that will never be dissipated, even if the present generation has no romance in its soul. Almost everybody of consequence has put up at Craig’s. Another famous house, Lester’s, rivalled it for quite a long time, but Lester’s has gone, and Craig’s is still with us. Almost everybody knows the story of Walter Craig’s great racer, “Nimblefoot” ’ which won the Melbourne Cup so many years ago, and of which its owner dreamed that he saw his horse passing the post with the jockey wearing the black armband. It was a true dream. Walter Craig died before the Cup was run, Nimblefoot won the Cup, and the jockey wore the armband.

After Walter Craig, Mr J. J. Goller owned, the old house, and in his time Messrs Geo.Haythorn, Geo. Thompson and Fred. Wilkins were successively managers. Then Mr Wm. Bentley became the owner. He was a man with a fine personality, and immensely popular. Having been manager of Menzies’ hotel, in Melbourne, he came here with a big experience, and at once set to work to improve the house. He brought it right up to date, and Craig's “carried on,” as the hotel of Ballarat in its particular class of public service. Later the house was acquired by Robert Orr, of racing and coursing fame. At the time these old ’“sports” held the hotel it was the centre of meetings of every sporting interest in Ballarat. Cricket, football, racing, coursing, hunting, rowing and other meetings were held in galore, and the forty, fifty, and sixty year old files of the "Ballarat Star” contain innumerable references to the ancient hostelry. After Mr Orr’s death, the historic old house was sold by public auction, and purchased by Mr Frank Herman, who in turn leased it to Mr “Steve” Seward, formerly of “Lester’s.” Everybody remembers that fine sport and fine gentleman, Mr Seward, who for years kept, the fame of the old house at the “top-hole” mark, and who, with his sons, was such a prominent figure in rowing, football, handball and other sporting circles.

After Mr Seward, came Miss Glover, and after her Mr J. Newton, another manly man, who was greatly respected by everybody, and who took the keenest interest in everything appertaining to the welfare of Ballarat. And now Mrs Newton has purchased the old house, so rich in ancient history, and yet so up-to-date in its catering for the public. Since Mr Newton’s death, Mrs Newton has carried the house on with very fine satisfaction to everybody, and that she has now seen, fit to invest £30,000 on buying the whole proposition will be a source of very great satisfaction to a wide circle of friends, who will congratulate her upon her plucky enterprise, and wish, her well. Mr Frank Herman, who has been associated with the old house from the time when Cobb’s coaches used it and also Mark’s corner as a "jumping off point” for many surrounding districts is keenly interested from, the historical point of view, and has a host of-memories, and a host of relics of the old time, though always up-to-date hostelry.

One excerpt from the first edition of Withers’ History of Ballarat will be of interest, especially to those of the pioneers still with us:—“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 Lex ton, 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." So it will be seen that Mrs Netwton I has acquired a house of great historical memory, and one that is so closely associated with-Ballarat that it is not to be wondered that Ballarat people are as proud of it and its ancient associations, as they are of its faculty for keeping in the fore-front of progress.[5]

History[edit | edit source]

Craig's Hotel c.1870

In May 1863 the foundation stone was laid for a new stable complex at the hotel:

On Wednesday the ceremony of laying the foundation stone of the new horse repository in connection with Craig's Royal Hotel, was performed by Mr Lovell, after which the customary joviality was freely indulged in. The new building, which will be of bluestone will occupy the greater part of the space between Armstrong street and the hotel, and will be erected after a design by Mr Cuthbert.[6]

In March 1871 the publican's license renewal was refused:

George Milson applied for a license for Craig’s hotel. Mr Sub-inspector Ryall said that the applicant had got out the license at the beginning of the year in his own name, but that it had not passed the bench. The license was not granted.[7]

In March 1886 the hotel was one of several to apply for an extension of trading hours, which was eventually refused:

Mr Holden made a similar application on behalf of Mr W. Bentley, of Craig’s hotel, for extension of hours. Wm. Bentley-deposed that the arrivals' by the late trains affected him to some extent. His house was a family hotel as well as a commercial one. The hotel was about an eighth of a mile from the railway station. Witness only wished permission to keep his bar open until l2 o’clock, and after that hour permission for the night porter to dispense refreshments to travellers.—Decision reserved.[8]

In September 1887 the Governor of Victoria stayed at the hotel:

Apartments have been secured at Craig’s hotel for his Excellency the Governor, Lady Loch, and suite. The vice-regal party will arrive in Ballarat to-morrow, and on Friday they will proceed on a visit of inspection to the Midas mine, Sulky Gully. His Excellency will return to Melbourne on Friday night.[9]

From a newspaper promotion in September 1905:

One of the finest hotels in the Commonwealth is without doubt Craig's Royal hotel, Lydiard street, Ballarat, of which Mr. S. Seward is proprietor. All the appointments are of the best and most up-to-date style.[10]

In 1917 the hotel was issued with a special permit to serve alcohol with meals between 6.00pm and 8.00pm.[11]

An attempt was made to sell the hotel in 1949:

Ballarat Hotel Passed In At £64,500. Craig's Royal Hotel, Ballarat, whose history is linked with Ballarat from the' earliest days of the gold rush, was offered at auction yesterday and passed in at £ 64,500 for sale by private treaty. Negotiations are proceeding, and it is expected that a sale will be made at a figure above that of the highest auction bid. Vendor was Mrs M. Martin, widow of the late Cr M. Martin, who had conducted the hotel for many years. Selling agents were Messrs Percy Henry and Galbraith, of Melbourne, and Thiessen and Irvine, of Ballarat.[12]

Craig's Hotel was sold in 1954:

Famous Hotel Sold. Melbourne: Two brothers, who conduct one of the biggest poultry farms in the world, yesterday paid £76,500 for Craig's Royal Hotel, Ballarat. They are Messrs. James and Walter Carter, of Werribee, who last week bid £69,500 at auction for the hotel. The reserve was £80,000. The sale was completed privately yesterday. Craig's hotel has many historic associations with the Ballarat, district and early Victoria. It was there, in 1867-68, that Adam Lindsay Gordon, an Australian poet, kept the livery stables.[13]

The hotel was offered for sale in October 2019 with a price in excess of $13 million.[14] It was sold in March 2020 for approx. $12 million to the Black Rhino Group, which operates 14 hotels in Victoria.[15]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

Community meetings[edit | edit source]

Business[edit | edit source]

Mining[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

Others[edit | edit source]

  • Adam Lindsay Gordon worked in the livery stables behind the hotel.
  • Rose Elizabeth Burns, employed as a live-in barmaid, 1934.[42]

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. 3.0 3.1 1857 'POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 7 September, p. 2. , viewed 02 Nov 2019,
  4. 4.0 4.1 1858 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT. Friday, 18th June.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 21 June, p. 2, viewed 9 November, 2015,
  5. 1923 'CRAIG’S HOTEL', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 16 October, p. 1. , viewed 18 Jun 2020,
  6. 1863 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 May, p. 2. , viewed 15 Mar 2017,
  7. 7.0 7.1 1871 'BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 March, p. 3. , viewed 21 Aug 2021,
  8. 8.0 8.1 1886 'BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 27 March, p. 4. , viewed 27 Apr 2017,
  9. 1887 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 21 September, p. 2. , viewed 28 Dec 2018,
  10. 1905 'BALLARAT HOTELS.', Bendigo Advertiser (Vic. : 1855 - 1918), 30 September, p. 5. , viewed 31 Jul 2021,
  11. 1917 'BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 19 January, p. 4, viewed 30 January, 2014,
  12. 1949 'Ballarat Hotel Passed In At £64,500.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 8 December, p. 17, viewed 9 November, 2015,
  13. 1954 'Famous Hotel Sold.', Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, NSW : 1888 - 1954), 1 May, p. 1, viewed 8 November, 2015,
  14. 2019, 'Craig's Royal Hotel in Ballarat hits the market', Ballarat Courier, 31 October 2019,
  15. 15.0 15.1 2020, Young, Andy, 'Black Rhino Group adds new pub to its portfolio', Australian Hotelier, 11 March 2020,
  16. 1867 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 April, p. 3. , viewed 06 Nov 2022,
  17. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 October, p. 3. , viewed 05 Oct 2018,
  18. 1877 'NEWS AND NOTES', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 December, p. 2. , viewed 13 Jul 2016,
  19. 19.0 19.1 19.2 19.3 1867 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 6 April, p. 4. , viewed 17 Feb 2021,
  20. 1867 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 6 April, p. 4. , viewed 17 Feb 2021,
  21. 1880 'CITY OF YORK COMPANY.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 1 December, p. 4. , viewed 15 Jun 2019,
  22. 1865 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 7 September, p. 4. , viewed 19 Nov 2018,
  23. 1866 'GREAT REDAN EXTENDED COMPANY.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 3 July, p. 2. , viewed 14 Jan 2021,
  24. 1877 'KINGSTON PARK COMPANY.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1883; 1914 - 1918), 31 January, p. 4. , viewed 10 Jul 2019,
  25. 1859 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 28 May, p. 2, viewed 28 December, 2015,
  26. 1862 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 18 June, p. 2, viewed 12 February, 2014,
  27. 1863 'BALLARAT WEST PUBLICANS' ANNUAL LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 June, p. 4, viewed 10 February, 2014,
  28. 1864 'DISTRICT PUBLICANS' LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 2 July, p. 4. , viewed 10 Oct 2016,
  29. 1872 'LICENSING BENCH', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1884; 1914 - 1918), 21 June, p. 3. , viewed 28 Feb 2021,
  30. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 March, p. 3. , viewed 03 Jan 2019,
  31. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 December, p. 4. , viewed 09 Mar 2017,
  32. 1874 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 9 December, p. 4. , viewed 09 Mar 2017,
  33. 1875 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 December, p. 4. , viewed 19 Aug 2022,
  34. 1876 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 28 September, p. 4. , viewed 23 Dec 2017,
  35. Niven's Guide Book and Souvenir of Ballarat, 1882.
  36. 1884 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 September, p. 4. , viewed 10 Feb 2017,
  37. 1895 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 7 December, p. 2. , viewed 16 Mar 2018,
  38. 1899 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 November, p. 2. , viewed 05 Dec 2023,
  39. 1904 'LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 5 May, p. 3. , viewed 19 Sep 2016,
  40. 1916 Victorian Electoral Roll, Ballarat, Ballarat West,
  41. "Club Hotel, Sale." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957) 5 Jun 1937: 22. Web. 12 Mar 2014 <>.
  42. 1934, Australian Electoral Roll, Victoria, Ballarat, Ballaarat West

External Links[edit | edit source]