Exchange Hotel (Bridge Street)

From Hotels of Ballarat
For other hotels with the same or similar names, see Exchange Hotel.
Exchange Hotel
Picture needed
Town Ballarat
Street Bridge Street
Closed 31 December 1914
Known dates 1857-1914
Other names aka Sayer's Hotel

The Exchange Hotel was a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, <1857-1914.

Site[edit | edit source]

The hotel is described in an 1859 lithograph as being in part of Main Road and Victoria Streets. Later it is described as being in Bridge Street[1], on the corner with Peel Street.[2]

Background[edit | edit source]

It is possible that this hotel was the same hotel as the Royal Exchange Hotel also in Bridge Street, Ballarat.

History[edit | edit source]

In June 1864, John Ahrens advertised his intention to apply for a renewal of the license:

TO the Bench of Magistrates at Ballarat East.- I, JOHN AHRENS, Licensed Publican, now residing at Ballarat East, in the Borough of Ballarat East, do hereby give you notice, that it is my intention to apply to the justices sitting at the Court of Petty Sessions, to be holden on the 1st day of July, for a Certificate authorising the issue of a Publican's License for a house situated at Bridge street, consisting of four sitting rooms, one commercial room, dining rooms, large hall, twenty-five bedrooms, &c, &c, at present occupied by John Ahrens, and licensed under the sign of the Exchange Hotel. Dated, Ballarat, 15th June, 1864. JOHN AHRENS[3]

In May 1870, a police informer laid a charge that the publican, William Smith, had been trading after hours:

John Alderson v William Smith, for selling drink between the hours of midnight and six in the morning, without a night license, at his house, the Exchange hotel. Mr Finn appeared for the plaintiff, and Mr Lewis for the defence. The prosecutor said that he had gone into the hotel of the defendant at half-past twelve. Several men were in the bar at the time. Some went up to bed, and two went out into the street. One gentleman with a toga when going out said that he thought it was time they were going, as it was now a few minutes to one. Mr Palmer said that he was keeper of the billiard room at the hotel of Mr Smith, and that on the night in question (the 17th) he had closed his billiard room at half past eleven, and the hotel had been closed at twelve. The last person in was Mr J. J. Goller, the merchant with whom Mr Smith dealt. Other evidence contradictory of that of the prosecutor was taken, add the case was dismissed.[4]

In July 1870, an "exotic" café was opened in an upstairs room:

The Cafe Turque was opened on Saturday night, at Smith’s Exchange hotel, Bridge street. The large up stairs room, formerly used as a meeting-room by the Oddfellows, has been elegantly papered and decorated, the floor has been carpeted, and a bar fixed at one corner, while little round tables and chairs, for the convenience of visitors to the café, have been placed at irregular intervals. But the elegance of the room was not meant to be the attraction, nor was it. The proprietor had procured eight women dressed, or rather half-dressed, in a sort of nondescript costume to wait upon the public, and the public, feeling the obligation it was under to Mr Smith, visited the café. At nine o’clock so many had paid their shillings, and received tickets entitling them to a drink, that the hall was densely crowded, and there was barely room for anyone to turn round. All classes were represented. There were a few “ bullies,” plenty of clerks, and a few from nearly all the congregations of the different Ballarat churches. Mr Williams presided at the piano in one corner of the room, and Mr Margetts and another vocalist sang songs from a table placed near the piano. The waitresses did not appear to come up to public expectation. Those who professed to be up in such matters said they were “ not a patch” upon the scantily clad houris of the Oriental or Continental in Bourke street. The dress consisted of ordinary boots, white stockings, a skirt down an inch or two below the knee, aiid an ordinary jacket of either red, blue, or yellow. This costume was set off with spangles'. The women had enough to do to push through the crowd and serve the drinks, and before the place was closed, arms belonging to “free and easy” individuals began to slip round the waists of the waitresses in an astonishing manner. But the waitresses did not seem to mind it, and at midnight the Café Turque was closed.[5]

In February and July 1873, Edward Thomas was advertising that he had taken over the hotel:

WANTED KNOWN, that E. THOMAS has REMOVED from the Times Hotel, Victoria street, to the EXCHANGE HOTEL, Bridge street, corner of Peel street, which be has fitted up in first-class style, for the accommodation of boarders and others who may honor him with their patronage. E. Thomas has no hesitation in saying that there is no house in Ballarat where the same comfort and attention can be obtained at the following low scale of charges:—

  • Board and Residence, per week. 13s 6d
  • Breakfast, with tea or coffee .. 6d
  • First-class three -course Dinner ... 6d
  • Supper, with tea or coffee ............ 6d
  • Good Beds...... . 1s 6d

E. THOMAS.[6][2]

In March 1876, the new publican was advertising for business:

WANTED KNOWN— That J. SAYERS (late of the City Diningrooms, Doveton street has taken the EXCHANGE HOTEL, Bridge street, and hopes to see all old friends, and also make many new ones. All Meals, Sixpence. Good clean Beds,1s. Board and Residence, 13s 6d per week. All liquors of the best quality. Note.— This Hotel has recently been fitted up with an additional suite of Bedrooms ; also with Plunge and Shower Baths. A First-class Billiard-table in connection with the hotel.[7]

Advertisement from the Ballarat Directory, 1901

In February 1888 the publican was charged with a breach of the laws. His lawyer argued that the law was confusing and almost impossible to follow:

On Saturday at the Town Police Court, before Messrs Thomson, P.M., and Russell, J.P., John Sayers, of the Exchange hotel, Bridge street, and Elias Jonas, of the same street, were each fined £5, with costs, for having their bar doors unlocked on the 29th of last month. Mr Gaunt, who appeared for the defence, asked the bench how it could be possible for the keepers of hotels and boardinghouses to supply their lodgers with refreshments without unlocking the doors of the bars. To him (Mr Gaunt) the Licensing Act was a disgraceful bungle, full of inconsistencies, and he would take it as a favor if the bench would explain the clause under which Messrs Sayers and. Jonas had been proceeded against. Could anyone say what the clause required ? The bench did not enlighten Mr Gaunt on the point desired, but the chairman asked Mr Inspector Parkinson if he would consent to withdrawing the summonses. Mr Parkinson replied that he would not stay proceedings, as there was the Act, and they all had to abide by it. Others beside Messrs Sayers and Jonas had been fined under similar circumstances.[8]

In June 1888 the Licensing Court held hearings to make a decision about which 45 of Ballarat East's 72 hotels would be closed. This hotel was recommended to kept open.[9]

In July 1889 a man attempted suicide on one of the hotel's bedrooms:

DETERMINED ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE. From Our Correspondent. BALLARAT. Thursday. A man named Thomas Matthews, a horse clipper, aged 48 years, attempted to commit suicide at Sayer's Exchange Hotel, Bridge-street. Ballarat East, last night. It seems that Matthews, who has been drinking heavily of late, entered his room at the hotel at 7 o'clock in the evening, and procuring a razor he inflicted a gash in his throat which extended from ear to ear. He next inflicted a frightful wound on his left arm, and before throwing himself on the bed to die he painted on a mirror with the blood flowing from his neck the word " Drink." Matthews lay bleeding on the bed all night, and at 9 o'clock this morning the landlord, observing that the lodger was not in attendance at the breakfast table, despatched a waitress to summon him. On being called Matthews asked to see Mr. Sayers, and on the latter proceeding to the room he found Matthews wounded as described, and the bed and bedding almost deluged with blood. The unfortunate man, who said he was tired of life, as he was without money and friends, expressed regret that he had not succeeded in terminating his existence. Matthews was removed to the hospital by Constable Tolmie. It is feared that his injuries will prove fatal. He has no relations in the colony.[10]

In November 1901 the hotel was flooded after a fierce hailstorm passed through the district:

At Sayers’ Hotel there was for the time being more water than whiskey. The water came down in a perfect torrent from the hill in Victoria street, and very quickly overflowed the channel, making its way into the bar and parlors of the hotel, and in a shorter time than it takes to tell the water had risen to about a foot deep. Chairs floated about, and for a moment those in the hotel were under the impression that their swimming abilities would be required. Fortunately the rain ceased, and the fears of a flood were averted. When the waters subsided, the floors of several of the rooms were covered with a thick coating of dirt, and the inconvenience caused was considerable. The inmates of the hotel, however, expressed their thanks that they had escaped so comparatively lightly.[11]

In December 1905 a man was found unconscious in a lane behind the hotel:

A man named Trewin, aged 40 years, was on Saturday night found in an unconscious condition in a lane at the rear of Sayers's Hotel, Bridge-street. He was taken to the hospital, where it was found that Trewin, who is a swagman and a native of South Australia, had received severe scalp wounds and abrasions to the face. On regaining consciousness the man stated that he had been drinking, and had a dim recollection of being engaged in a standup fight with another tramp whom he had met at one of the hotels. The police are in search of the man who is supposed to have caused Trewin's injuries.[12]

In January 1907, the publican was charged with breaches of the new licensing laws:

NEW LICENSING ACT, BALLARAT PROSECUTIONS. BALLARAT. Wednesday. At the Ballarat East court on Wednesday, John Sayers, of the Exchange Hotel, Bridge-street, was charged under the new Licensing Act with serving liquor to three persons other than lodgers or bona fide travellers on Sunday, 6th January. A deal of evidence was taken, and the magistrate adjourned the case for an hour pending an inspection of the hotel. On resuming, the bench said Sunday trading had been carried on, but as the police had elected to confine the charge to trafficking with two men only the case could be dismissed, as there was no evidence to show they had purchased liquor. Thomas Hooley, Frank Reiffle and Charles Williams were then charged with being found, on the licensed premises of Mr. Sayers, defendant in the previous case, for an unlawful purpose. Defendants stated they were in the Exchange Hotel for the purpose of partaking of dinner. Williams, when approached by the police, gave a wrong name, as he was not aware, he said, that he was being questioned by constables. The charges against Hooley and Reiffle were dismissed, but Williams was fined £1, as the bench did not believe his defence.[13]

In April 1913 three men assaulted and robbed a gardener delivering vegetables to the hotel:

ECHO OF PICNIC. MELBOURNE, Tuesday Evening. Last Saturday at Ballarat, a Chinese gardener was delivering vegetables at Sayer's Hotel, when one of three men who went to Ballarat on the Railway picnic, secured his bag containing £8 5s. During the dispute the Chinaman, who is named He Ling, sustained severe injuries to his face, which necessitated his treatment at the Hospital. To-day, as the result of investigation, Dectectives Daevy and Tognini arrested a young man named Saml. Strickland, on the charge of unlawfully wounding He Ling. He will appear at the Melbourne Court tomorrow, when a remand to Ballarat will be applied for.[14]

In January 1914 two men were charged with stealing from the hotel:

MEN STEAL WHISKY. BALLARAT, Friday. Charles Vining and Michael Sexton, at Ballarat East Court to-day, were charged with the theft of a bottle of whisky from Sayer's Exchange Hotel. Each was sentenced to one month's imprisonment. Constable Morgan, arrested the men. Vining, it was stated, had the whisky in his coat pocket, and said that he obtained it from a man in a motorcar, and was trying to dispose of it. Sexton remarked, "Whisky is no good to us. We want beer."[15]

The hotel license was surrendered on 31 December 1914:

AN OLD LANDMARK EXCHANGE HOTEL SURRENDERS ITS LICENSE An ancient landmark of Ballarat East, the Exchange Hotel, Bridge street, surrendered its license today and becomes one of the has beens. The Ballarat Trustees Company as executors for the will of the late John Sayers, notified the Licenses Reduction Board of the surrender which was accepted at a meeting of the Board held in Melbourne, this morning. The Exchange Hotel has a history dating back to the very early days of Ballarat. It was a flourishing house as far back as 1868, when it was owned by a Mr Ahrens. It is interesting to learn that of the many score of hotels which Ballarat East boasted in the prosperous days of mining, only six that were then existent are now running viz., the British Queen, and North Grant, in Bridge street, the Crown (formerly the Scandinavian), in Main road, Mac's in Victoria street, and the Australia Felix, in Eureka street. Dozens of others have closed down particularly in Main road, and others have sprung up in various parts of the town. The late Mr Sayers succeeded Mr Ahrens in the proprietorship of the Exchange Hotel, and he carried it on till the time of his death, a few months ago. The old house used to be the scene of many festive gatherings of lucky diggers. In 1861 Mr F. B. Wilson was the lessee of extensive dining rooms run in connection with the hotel.[16]

Compensation was offered in May 1915:

Compensation for Hotels. — Official notice is given on behalf of the Licenses Reduction Board that the licenses for the Exchange Hotel, Bridge street, Ballarat East, and the Western Ocean Hotel, Skipton street, Ballarat West, having been surrendered, the amount of compensation payable to the owners has been set down, at £780 for the former premises, and £200 for the latter.[17]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

Inquests[edit | edit source]

Lodges[edit | edit source]

  • June 1862, Pioneer Lodge of A.I.O. of the O.F., half yearly meeting.[20]

Politics[edit | edit source]

  • January 1866, an electoral meeting, where the candidates for Ballarat East spoke to a large crowd.[21]

Sports[edit | edit source]

  • Ballarat Bowling Club, 13 December 1864, meeting to form the club.[22]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1874 'BALLARAT EAST LICENSING BENCH. ANNUAL MEETING.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 December, p. 4, viewed 26 October, 2015,
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 1873 'Advertising', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 7 July, p. 3. , viewed 06 Dec 2017,
  3. Advertising (1864, June 22). The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), p. 4. Retrieved April 15, 2021, from
  4. 4.0 4.1 1870 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 May, p. 4. , viewed 24 May 2021,
  5. 1870 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 1 August, p. 2. , viewed 27 Mar 2020,
  6. 1873 'Advertising', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1882; 1914 - 1918), 6 February, p. 3. , viewed 02 Aug 2018,
  7. 7.0 7.1 1876 'Advertising', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 8 March, p. 3. , viewed 21 Aug 2017,
  8. 8.0 8.1 1888 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 February, p. 2. , viewed 04 Jun 2017,
  9. 1888 'THE BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 30 June, p. 14. , viewed 26 Feb 2017,
  10. 1889 'DETERMINED ATTEMPT AT SUICIDE.', Leader (Melbourne, Vic. : 1862 - 1918, 1935), 27 July, p. 32. , viewed 09 Dec 2021,
  11. 1901 'BALLARAT EAST.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 November, p. 6. , viewed 26 Jul 2018,
  12. 1905 'COUNTRY NEWS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 18 December, p. 6. , viewed 08 Dec 2021,
  13. 13.0 13.1 1907 'NEW LICENSING ACT.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 17 January, p. 5, viewed 26 October, 2015,
  14. 1913 'ECHO OF PICNIC.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 9 April, p. 6. , viewed 09 Dec 2021,
  15. 1914 'MEN STEAD WHISKY', The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), 9 January, p. 9. , viewed 09 Dec 2021,
  16. 1914 'AN OLD LANDMARK', The Evening Echo (Ballarat, Vic. : 1914 - 1918), 31 December, p. 4. (FOURTH EDITION), viewed 02 Aug 2018,
  17. 1915 'COMPENSATION FOR HOTELS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 21 May, p. 4. , viewed 25 Feb 2021,
  18. 1857 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 27 June, p. 4. , viewed 28 Apr 2019,
  19. 1862 'The Star.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 November, p. 2. , viewed 28 Sep 2017,
  20. 1862 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 2 July, p. 2. , viewed 18 Jan 2020,
  21. 1866 'BALLARAT EAST ELECTION.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 27 January, p. 3, viewed 26 October, 2015,
  22. Ballarat Bowling Club,
  23. 1888 'BALLARAT CHRONICLES AND PICTURES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 25 June, p. 4. , viewed 15 Mar 2017,
  24. 1857 'GENERAL ANNUAL LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 13 June, p. 2. , viewed 20 Aug 2017,
  25. 1858 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 16 June, p. 2. , viewed 01 Dec 2019,
  26. 1858 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 15 July, p. 2. , viewed 05 Nov 2017,
  27. 1859 'AFTERNOON SITTINGS.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 June, p. 3. , viewed 26 Aug 2019,
  28. 1861 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 20 June, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR.), viewed 14 Apr 2021,
  29. 1864 'BALLARAT EAST LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 2 July, p. 4. , viewed 18 Apr 2021,
  30. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 14 March, p. 4. , viewed 25 Jun 2023,
  31. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 December, p. 2. , viewed 18 Jun 2017,
  32. 1878 'Advertising', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1883; 1914 - 1918), 22 April, p. 3. , viewed 08 May 2019,

External Links[edit | edit source]