Grand Hotel

From Hotels of Ballarat
See also the Grand Hotel (c.2010), also in Lydiard Street.
Grand Hotel
Picture needed
Town Ballarat
Street 53 Lydiard Street
Opened December 1884
Closed 31 March 1911
Known dates 1884-1911
Other names Railway Hotel
Woolstencroft's Hotel

Grand Hotel was a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, 1884-1916>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The hotel was on the west side of Lydiard Street, No. 53[1], Ballarat, the site had previously been Woolstencroft's Hotel.[2][3]

Background[edit | edit source]

The large hotel, with over 100 rooms, was built in 1884 by Mr. Cohen.[2] Cohen had taken over the license of the earlier Railway Hotel from William Woolstencroft in January 1880.[4]. It was usually known as Cohen's Grand Hotel, and later as Coulson's Grand Hotel.

Map[edit | edit source]

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History[edit | edit source]

The Ballarat Star reported the opening of the hotel in glowing terms in December 1884:

COHEN’S GRAND HOTEL AND IMPERIAL DININGROOMS. The inhabitants of Ballarat may well be proud of such an institution as Cohen’s Grand hotel, which stands on the site of the old hostelry known as Woolstencroft’s. The Grand hotel is one of the commanding buildings in the city, and cannot fail to strike the eye of the visitors. It has a frontage to Lydiard street of 31 1/2 feet, and rises four storeys in height. The building is substantially constructed of brick with a plastered front. The interior vies with the exterior for superb design, the appointments of the 101 rooms compare favourably for elegance of style with many of the first-class hotels in the various towns in the colony. The upper plats have been furnished throughout at a very heavy expenditure. The floors of the parlors and bedrooms are laid with Brussels carpets, and the passages with linoleums. In one parlor or receiving room, surrounded with mirrors, the musically inclined may listen to a fine-toned Swechten piano. The bedrooms, which are capable of supplying accommodation for 200 persons, are fitted with double ventilators, which induce a constant current of air and preclude draughts. In the course of time Mr Cohen intends making still further improvements, by carrying out an extension of the main building, by which means a very large number of bedrooms will be added. The contemplated addition is in a sense necessary, as the sleeping accommodation at the hotel is even now taxed to its uttermost. The lavatories and bathrooms have been fitted up in the best style, and hot-water and service pipes are laid on to those rooms. The storeroom contains provisions which Mr Cohen purchases in wholesale quantities, being thus enabled to provide a first-class meal at a small cost to the customer. The enterprising caterer contracts for the supply of meat by the year, so that he is not affected by the rise or decline of prices. The diningroom, opening upon the street, is 80 feet in length, and is capable of seating a great number. At night time the chandeliers and coloured globes give the place a very pleasant appearance. A copper urn, regulated to supply coffee, tea, or milk, as required, is placed in the diningroom. The kitchen is extensive, containing every appliance necessary for such a large establishment. The bar is fitted with mirrors, making it very light and attractive. Immediately at the back are three parlours, always available for use. Mr T. Egginton, of Windermere street, who was the contractor for the building, has carried out his work most satisfactorily under the direction of the architects, Messrs Caselli and Figgis. Messrs Whitelaw and Atkinson were the contractors for the masonry, Mr Donaldson for the painting, and Mr Monsborough for the plumbing. We understand that Mr Cohen will shortly establish a library to add to the conveniences of the hotel and coffee tavern. Mr Cohen, who has resided on Ballarat for many years, is entitled to much credit for his spirited enter prise in enlarging his establishment to suit the times, and he certainly deserves success in his undertaking.[2]

In March 1886, the publican applied for an extension of trading hours to meet demand from late travellers. The request was denied:

Mr Finlayson applied on behalf of Mr Simeon Henry Cohen, licensee of the Grand hotel, Lydiard street, for permission to sell liquor at half-past 11 o’clock at night. Simeon Henry Cohen deposed that his hotel —the Grand hotel —was about 100 or 150 yards from the railway station. The last train arrived in Ballarat at about half-past 1 o’clock in the morning, and there was a good deal of traffic by this train. Witness’ hotel contained 66 bedrooms, and he charged 1s per single bed. Had been licensee of the hotel for seven years. Received on an average about nine or 10 customers a night by the two late trains. To Inspector Parkinson—Witness knew a man named Watt. He was employed not by witness, but by his brother, who kept the Royal Mail hotel adjoining. Watt, who was a touter, was now in gaol. Witness had never engaged nor paid him. Watt was sentenced to seven years’ imprisonment for manslaughter, arising out of a disturbance between the railway station and witness’ hotel. Had always admitted passengers by the late trains after 12 o’clock in 1885, providing that they were respectable. He wished the bar kept open from 11.30 to 1.30 o’clock. The man Watt had not been arrested in his hotel, but in the Royal hotel. Mr Finlayson said his client was quite willing to guarantee that no one but travellers should be served with liquor after hours. Isaac Michaels, manager for Mr Cohen, gave similar evidence, and said Mr Cohen had probably understated the number of customers from the late trains. There were four hotels, between the Grand hotel and the railway station.—The court reserved, its decision.[5]

In December 1889 the publican, Wolf Cohen, made another attempt for extended trading hours:

Mr Wolf Cohen, licensee of the Grand hotel, applied to the Licensing Court yesterday for a permit to sell liquor between the hours of 11.30 p.m. and 2 a.m., and between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. Mr Must, of Cuthbert, Wynne, and Cos., appeared for the applicant, and called a number of witnesses to show the nature of the business done and the necessity of the desired accommodation. Inspector Parkinson opposed the application, stating that the premises were not in the immediate neighborhood of a railway station or other public place, as mentioned in the Act. On two previous occasions similar applications for the same premises had been refused. The court declined to grant the concession.[6]

In 1908 the hotel was on a list of hotels threatened with closure by the License Reduction Board. The argument to retain the hotel was vigorously pursued in court in April 1908:

THE GRAND HOTEL. After the surrendered licenses had been dealt with, houses against which convictions had been recorded, were taken. In the case of the Grand Hotel, Lydiard street, Mr J. B. Pearson appeared for the owners, the Ballarat Brewing Company, and the licensee, Mrs Elizabeth Coulson. Inspector Balchin said that there had been two convictions recorded against the hotel, which was in the Ballarat West district. The statutory number was 36, and the existing number 83. Up to the 2nd November, 1906, William Henry Stevens was the licensee.; During his management the house was not, well conducted. On the 26th September, 1905, there was a conviction against the licensee for allowing a drunken man to be on the premises. On the 8th of February, 1903, The same licensee was fined £5 for allowing unlawful games to be played on the premises. On the 2nd November, 1906, the license was transferred to Elizabeth Coulson. A great improvement had since taken place in the conduct of the house. It was well kept, and comfortably furnished. With the exception of a fine of £5 in February, which did not come within the provinces of the reduction clauses of the Act, there had been no convictions against the licensee. There were over 70-rooms in the house. There was a two stalled stable at the back. The building was in good order. The rent was £3 per week. He did not think however that this was a fair rental, and he had had the valuation of the hotel increased at the last Licensing Court from £200 to £260. It was a working men’s house. The Cosmopolitan Hotel was next door to the Grand, and did a similar business. It belonged to a different owner. The Federal, Palace, Provincial, George, Craig’s, and The Club Hotels were all within two or three hundred yards of one another. The City was 500 yards away. The Federal was the only one of these houses which had a similar class of bar trade. The others did a different class of business. The Grand Hotel could be closed without inconveniencing the public. To Mr Pearson- The hotel had a very old and wide connection. It was largely used by laborers, bushmen, farm hands, etc. He did not know of any house in Ballarat West outside the Cosmopolitan which did the 6d meal and 1s bed business on such a scale as The Grand. The Federal Hotel charged 2s for beds and 1s for meals. The Provincial and Palace charged the same or a higher tariff. The Grand kept a good table. Senior Constable Robinson said that he did not think the hotel as a hotel was necessary. It was largely used as a restaurant by the working classes. He corroborated the; evidence given by the licensing inspector with regard to the character of the house. To Mr Pearson - He thought that the house would be just as well patronized without a license as with one. Constable Byrne gave corroborative evidence.

To Mr Pearson - he thought that the house without a license would be as well patronised by boarders as at present, though he would not say that they would be as comfortable as in the past. Mr Pearson said that the hotel was a well conducted house, patronized by the working classes, and was absolutely necessary. It did not seem that a central house, like the Grand, so well patronised by a large section of the public, should be closed, and houses with inferior accommodation left open. The place was known through the four corners of Australia, and the working classes recommended it to their friends. Under the circumstances notice should be taken of the periodic influxes of excursionist and visitors throughout the year, as well as the normal conditions of trade. Ballarat was not likely to go down. It was more likely to flourish. There was a strong probability of the Newtown-Beeac line being opened. There was closer settlement going on all round the district, and the Ballarat East mines were looking better. All these were the signs of increased business in Ballarat, and justified the existence of a house of the class of the Grand. He pointed out, also, that the amount of the valuation of the hotel had been increased at the last Licensing Court. Mr Andrews—This house is in the “A” class, the class that we take first on account of two convictions being recorded against it. Mr Pearson—l take it that I have shown exceptional. circumstances in favor of this house. The Act provides for the public convenience being one of the first considerations. Mr Andrews—Things being equal between two houses, apart from convictions, don’t you think the house with the convictions should go? Mr Pearson—All things being equal in the scales. Yes; but the convictions ought to be the last weight thrown into the scale.

William Albert Drew, hotelbroker, said that the Grand Hotel had a frontage of about 40 feet. It was a massive four-storied building for the greater part, and two-storied at the back. The house was in good order, and exceptionally well furnished. The Cosmopolitan, next door, was the only house which catered for the same class of trade. H had often seen both the Grand and the Cosmopolitan full. He considered the hotel necessary for the requirements of the locality. With out a license the house would not be as well patronised as at present. The house paid £300 for butcher’s meat during 1907; potatoes and onions, £52; milk, £78; lights, £36;. wages of servants, £324 15s.

Elizabeth Coulson, licensee of the Grand Hotel, said that one hotel of that class in Lydiard street would not be enough for public requirements. In the shearing season, at harvesting time, and on picnic days, race days, fire brigades demonstration week, and band contest week her house was always full. During the last two months she took on an average between £5,and £6 a week for beds. Mr Balchin-—You say that business has improved?—Yes. Did you not tell the last Licensing Court that business was bad, and that you wanted a reduction in valuation? —I forget. What rent did Stevens pay?—£6 a week. You are paying £3? —Yes. Mr Pearson—Were you not given the house at £3 per week to pull the business together?—Yes. Mr Gumming—Did the Earl of Zetland Hotel, which you formerly occupied, do the same class of trade as the Grand?—Yes. Does it still do that mass of trade? I believe so. Are there any other hotels about of that class? —Yes; Sayer’s. Inspector Balchin—Those hotels are in the Ballarat East district. Mr Gumming—That does not matter a great deal. They are in the vicinity, are they not?—They are in Bridge street, Ballarat East. After Mr J. E. B. Millington, manager of the Ballarat Brewing Company had tendered evidence, the chairman announced, that judgment would be reserved.[7]

In January 1911 the publican was charged when her husband got drunk:

INTERESTING LICENSING POINT. At the City Court yesterday, Elizabeth Coulson, licensee of the Grand Hotel, was charged with having allowed a drunken man on her hotel premises. Constable Carey deposed that the licensee's husband was the person concerned. Mrs. Coulsen stated that her husband had been on a drinking bout, and was being specially treated by her in a private parlor, when Constable Carey found him lying on a couch. Mr. Goldsmith, P.M., accepted the police evidence that the man was drunk, but said he would rule, as he had done before, that the husband of a licensee was in the same position, as a lodger, and could not be considered to be drunk on the licensed premises when in a private part of the premises. The case was dismissed.[8]

Closure[edit | edit source]

In March 1911 it was announced that the hotel would close, and that the Salvation Army would take over and run the premises as a People's Palace.

Memories of keen competition between proprietors of rival restaurants are revived by the announcement that the Salvation Army has secured a long lease of Coulson's Grand hotel, in Lydiard-street. Thirty years ago Mr. I. Jones conducted a cheap restaurant in Ballarat East, and Mr. S. Cohen opened an opposition business in Lydiard-street. Jones secured the premises next door, and great rivalry ensued. Free meals, cartoons depicting the men who dined at the two places, and other means were resorted to in order to attract trade. Frequently the police had to settle disputes between supporters of the rivals. Eventually Mr. Jones withdrew. Subsequently the rental of the two establishments was £24 a week, and £5000 was paid for ingoing. Since then the position has changed. The Licenses Reduction Board last week heard evidence, and were told that the rent of Coulson's hotel was £2 a week. To-day Inspector Ryan was told that the license would be surrendered, and that the Salvation Army had secured a lease of the premises from the brewing company, which owns the building. Possession will be taken on the first of next month, and the hotel will be transformed into a "People's Palace."[9]

The hotel was one of 11 eleven Ballarat hotels closed by the License Reduction Board in 1911:

Since the hearing the board has received from the owner and licensee of the Grand Hotel, Lydiard street, an application for the surrender of the license. This hotel being in the list is accordingly included in those to be deprived, but as the parties interested desire to close at the end of the present month, the surrender will be formally accepted at the conclusion of the present proceeding.[10]

In April 1911 a man was found hanged in one of the bedrooms.[11]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1888 'BALLARAT CHRONICLES AND PICTURES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 9 August, p. 4, viewed 26 October, 2015,
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 1884 'COHEN’S GRAND HOTEL AND IMPERIAL DININGROOMS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 December, p. 3, viewed 23 October, 2015,
  3. Sands & McDougall, McDougall's Melbourne, suburban and country directory : 1910, pg. 1936,
  4. 1880 'POLICE INTELLIGENCE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 January, p. 4. , viewed 31 Jan 2018,
  5. 5.0 5.1 1886 'BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 27 March, p. 4. , viewed 27 Apr 2017,
  6. 6.0 6.1 1889 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 7 December, p. 2. , viewed 12 Oct 2018,
  7. 7.0 7.1 1908 'DEFENDED CASES', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 April, p. 4. , viewed 13 Feb 2018,
  8. 8.0 8.1 1911 'BALLARAT.', Geelong Advertiser (Vic. : 1859 - 1929), 28 January, p. 4. , viewed 31 Jul 2017,
  9. 1911 'Hotel's Vicissitudes.', Riverine Herald (Echuca, Vic. : Moama, NSW : 1869 - 1954), 17 March, p. 4. , viewed 31 Jul 2017,
  10. 1911 'LICENSES REDUCTION BOARD.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 March, p. 4. , viewed 31 Jan 2018,
  11. 1911 'MAN FOUND HANGED.', Daily Post (Hobart, Tas. : 1908 - 1918), 29 April, p. 6, viewed 4 October, 2015,
  12. 1889 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 June, p. 2. , viewed 17 Aug 2019,
  13. 1908 'COUNTRY NEWS.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 3 October, p. 20. , viewed 02 Aug 2017,
  14. 1915 Victorian Electoral Roll, Ballarat, Ballaarat

External Links[edit | edit source]