Great Britain Hotel

From Hotels of Ballarat
Great Britain Hotel
Picture needed
Town Ballarat
Street Main Road
Known dates 1857-1869

The Great Britain Hotel was in Ballarat, Victoria, <1857-1869>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The Great Britain Hotel was in Main Road, Ballarat.[1] A hand drawn map of Main Road in the Ballarat Historical Society places it as the fourth building north of Esmond Street, on the west side of Main Road. This is approx: 37°34'10.8"S 143°52'12.9"E

Map[edit | edit source]

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Background[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

In December 1857, the publican, Abraham Morwitch, had a man charged after an argument about a food bill:

George Peters was charged by Abraham Morwitch with breaking down a door. It appeared that prisoner and three other men had gone into the restaurant kept by prosecutor, and ordered "ham and eggs" for four, which was supplied them. On leaving prisoner tendered 12s, viz., 3s each ; but the prosecutor wanting 5s each, locked the men in, and went for a policeman. After he had been gone about an hour, and did not seem inclined to return Peters wrenched off the box of the lock, which was the cause of the present charge. The Bench considered that the prisoner and his companions must have had very great appetites if they could discuss 5s worth of "ham and eggs," and thought that in tendering 3s. they had tendered enough, at the same time prisoner had no business to break down the door, and for that he was fined ls and 10s. compensation.[2]

In June 1858 the license was delayed pending an inspection:

Abraham Morwitch, Great Britain Hotel, Red Hill. Mr Cuthbert supported the application, and stated that the premises had been purified since the former adverse report of the visiting magistrates. A constable was dispatched to verify Mr Cuthbert's statement, on his return with a satisfactory report the license was granted.[3]

In August 1858 charges were laid after a second disturbance at the hotel over food:

DESTRUCTION OF PROPERTY. - Henry Davies, Charles Ellis, and William Williams were brought up charged with having destroyed the property of Mr Abraham Morwitch, lt appears that the three prisoners had gone into the Great Britain Hotel; and ordered dinner of the Chinamen, who keep the restaurant there. Some quarrel ensued respecting the important matter of payment, and the result was a disturbance, in which a lot of property was smashed. It appeared that Davies was the principal offender, and the bench fined him 10s and £2 damages The other two were discharged.

ASSAULT. - Henry Davies was next charged with assaulting Ah Lung, the Chinaman alluded to in the above case. As the particulars connected with the assault were of a rather aggravated nature, the bench committed Davies for trial. Bail allowed.[4]

In March 1860 the publican was fined for breaching licensing laws:

Same v Abraham Morwitch, for a similar offence. Constable Tobin deposed that the defendant had his house open between twelve and one o'clock on Saturday night. He had repeatedly been cautioned before. The defendant was fined 5s.[5]

On 11 January 1861, the hotel was one of many buildings destroyed by fire. Morwitch was not insured.

"...The morning of the 11th January, 1861, will long be remembered as a sad epoch in the annals of Ballarat. Sixty buildings, including shops and stores, two theatres, &c, either burned down or gutted, and some forty others seriously damaged, and a loss of property estimated at £50,000..."[6]

In December 1861 a man was robbed while he slept at the hotel:

ROBBERY AT AN HOTEL.- James Rankin was charged with stealing £10 16s 6d from the person of Patrick Maher on the 22nd instant. The prosecutor deposed that he resided in Ballarat. On the night of the robbery he slept at the Great Britain Hotel, and went to bed at half-past 12 o'clock. He had the money mentioned in his possession in five £1 notes and a £5 note, and 16s 6d in silver. He placed the money in his trowsers pocket and put them under his head. The prisoner was the only person who slept in the room with witness. When he was placing his trowsers under his head the money (silver) jingled. About five o'clock in the morning witness missed the prisoner and the money, but the trowsers were there. Reported the robbery to the police. The room door he thought was locked. The landlord closed it. He knew no more about it. To the prisoner- I saw you take a drink. I did not assist you to take your clothes off. I was sober on going to bed. Abraham Morwitch deposed that he was the landlord of the Great Britain Hotel, and knew the prisoner and prosecutor, who both slept in his house on the night of the 22nd instant. He saw them to bed, and put them to sleep in one room together. They slept in the wooden part of the house. He closed the door upon them. The prosecutor was sober, but the prisoner was partially drunk. The prisoner said he had no money when asked for the price of his bed. Did not see the prisoner spend any money that day. No person slept in the same room with the prisoner and prosecutor. Did not see the prisoner go away. Thc prosecutor complained of being robbed. William Wagner, barman at the Great Britain Hotel, deposed that he knew the prisoner and the prosecutor. He saw them go to bed past twelve o'clock, on the night of the 22nd; they both slept together, and witness slept in the adjoining room in the same building. Witness locked the doors both front and back, but when he got up in the morning he found the back door open and the prisoner gone. The prosecutor said he had lost £10, some shillings.[7]

The hotel was offered for sale in April 1864, along with the Eastern Hotel:

CHAS. DYTE has received instructions from Messrs Dickson and Forsyth, who are dissolving partnership, to sell by private treaty the following VALUABLE PROPERTIES : THE GREAT BRITAIN HOTEL, situate on Main toad, built of brick with slate roof, having a large bar, billiard-room, extensive concert-room, bedrooms; and doing a large trade. THE EASTERN HOTEL, with shops on both sides. Cottage in Eureka street, immediately opposite the Eastern Market The undersigned has positive instructions to sell the above properties, together or separate, for which liberal terms will be given in order to wind-up the partnership accounts. Particulars as to title and terms may be obtained of Messrs Dickson and Forsyth, or of CHAS. DYTE, Auctioneer, Main road.[8]

The hotel was offered for sale in June 1864:

The Great Britain Hotel, Situated in Main road, having a frontage of 70 feet; containing large Bar, Bagatelle, Dining, three Sitting, and eight Bedrooms, with LARGE CONCERT ROOM, Kitchen, Outhouses, and Stabling.; let to a respectable tenant.[9]

In December 1864 the publican, Abraham Morwitch took action against a customer:

DESTROYING PROPERTY.- Bartholomew Donegan was charged by Mr Abraham Morwitch, of the Great Britain Hotel, Main road, with having destroyed property in the bar to the value of £1. The prosecutor stated that the defendant wished the barmaid to give him change out of a £10 note, when he had only given her a £1 note. When she refused, he took up a cue and broke it over the shoulders of a person named Harris, and also broke a pane of glass, besides gome glasses on the counter. The prosecutor stated he saw the note the defendant gave the barmaid, and he would swear it was only a £1 note. The defendant maintained to the contrary, and stated that he had only the one £10 note in his purse and had received it in change for a cheque from the landlady of the Unicorn Hotel. It was ascertained by the police that the defendant had received a £10 note at this hotel, but of course he might have paid it away somewhere else than at the Great Britain Hotel as he alleged. Mr Vining, who appeared for the defendant, cross-examined Mr Morwitch and the barmaid at some length, but they did not materially vary in their statement that the note was only a one pound note. Mr Vining asked the bench to deal as leniently as possible with the defendant as he committed the offence in the belief that he had given the note in mistake. The defendant was fined 10s and 20s damages for the first offence, and for striking Mr Harris he was fined 5s or six hours' imprisonment.[10]

In January 1865 the hotel was still a meeting place for disreputable characters:

Jane Walsh was charged with being the keeper of a house frequented by persons of disreputable character. Mr Finn appeared to prosecute, and Mr Lewis appeared for the defence. Richard Bygrave, a publican residing at Creswick, deposed that on Wednesday night he saw his wife in company with the defendant at the Great Britain Hotel, watched, and saw them leave shortly afterwards in company with a man, and go to the defendant's house. On Friday, accompanied by a constable, he proceeded to the house and saw his wife there along with several other women. His wife told him she had been brought to the house by another woman. Had cautioned the defendant previously not to harbor his wife. Cross-examined-He considered his wife a prostitute, as she had been in such a house. The defendant, he believed, had been the cause of her going there. Constable D'Arcy deposed that be had known the defendant for two years, and arrested her on warrant on Sunday morning. An old woman and a little girl only were then in the house. Sergeant Larner was also called in support of the case, when he stated that the house had been frequented by persons of disreputable character, but on the date mentioned in the information he could not state whether there were any persons of bad repute in it. He knew that the sword swallower was in the habit of going to the house. Mr Foster stated that the case would require to be dismissed, as it bad not been proved there were any disreputable persons in the house on the day mentioned in the information. The defendant was then cautioned and discharged.[11]

In October 1868, a performer at the hotel stole a watch belonging to another performer:

Edward Richardson, described as an Ethiopian Serenader, engaged at the Great Britain hotel concert-room, was charged with stealing a watch, the property of Robert Cooke, who was also a member of the musical staff of the same concern. The prosecutor stated that while playing billiards at the hotel on the previous day the prisoner came in and asked him what o'clock it was. He handed him (prisoner) his waistcoat, in which his watch was, and with it he left the room. He returned the waistcoat shortly afterwards without the watch, and when questioned denied having taken it, and refused to give any satisfaction. The prisoner had nothing to say as he was drunk at the time of the occurrence, and was remanded till Monday.[12]

In June 1869 there was an assault at the hotel:

Assault. Peter Poiser was charged with assaulting Mathieu Franke in the Great Britain hotel; but as the arresting constable deposed that he appeared then to have been beaten by some person, he was discharged.[13]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

  • In June 1857, Abraham Morwitch was granted a night license for the hotel.[14]
    • From 1858-1864 the publican was Abraham Morwitch.[3][15][16][17][1]
    • In 1858 he had been fined for having an unlicensed bagatelle table.[17]
    • His license was renewed in June 1861.[18]
    • In July 1861 he was granted a night license for the hotel.[19]
    • In June 1863, the Ballarat East Licensing Bench refused to renew his license:

"A. Morwitch, Great Britain Hotel, Main road. Inspector Kabat read out a list of several fines against the applicant, and said the house was not well conducted, as very disorderly conduct was carried on there occasionally. Sergeant Lamer said that on several occasions be had seen prostitutes fighting in the house. The applicant had even been fined for allowing such conduct in his house. Inspector Kabat said he had often witnessed drunken brawls in the house. The applicant had been fined 40s, 5s, and 10s. The Bench refused the license."[20]

    • Morwitch was publican in December 1864.[10]
  • In February 1866 the publican was Kate Foley. Several people objected to her keeping the license.[21]
  • In February 1867 the license was transferred to Samuel Frank.[22]
  • In July 1867, Abraham Morwitch was identified in court as the manager of the hotel.[23]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "Licencing Court for Publicans," The Star, Thursday 19 June 1862, pg. 4,, (accessed January 19, 2014)
  2. 1857 'POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 4 December, p. 2. , viewed 31 Aug 2019,
  3. 3.0 3.1 1858 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 23 June, p. 2. , viewed 04 Dec 2019,
  4. 1858 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 10 August, p. 2. , viewed 31 Aug 2019,
  5. 1860 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 5 March, p. 4. , viewed 31 Aug 2019,
  6. 1861 'THE CONFLAGRATION ON THE MAIN ROAD.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 January, p. 2. , viewed 29 Dec 2016,
  7. 1861 'EASTERN POLICE COURT', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 31 December, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR), viewed 31 Aug 2019,
  8. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 22 April, p. 3. , viewed 24 Feb 2021,
  9. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 3 June, p. 3. , viewed 19 Oct 2016,
  10. 10.0 10.1 1864 'EASTERN POLICE, COURT. Wednesday, 14th December.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 15 December, p. 4. , viewed 30 Aug 2019,
  11. 1865 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 31 January, p. 4. , viewed 19 Nov 2018,
  12. 1868 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 3 October, p. 3. , viewed 24 Feb 2020,
  13. 1869 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 June, p. 4. , viewed 01 Feb 2018,
  14. 1857 'POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 July, p. 2. , viewed 30 Aug 2019,
  15. 1859 'AFTERNOON SITTINGS.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 June, p. 3. , viewed 29 Aug 2019,
  16. 1860 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 23 May, p. 2. , viewed 12 Dec 2019,
  17. 17.0 17.1 1858 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 13 December, p. 4, viewed 21 October, 2014,
  18. 1861 'LICENSING SESSIONS.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 6 June, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR.), viewed 02 Oct 2020,
  19. 1861 'EASTERN POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 11 July, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR.), viewed 01 Jun 2018,
  20. 1863 'BALLARAT EAST LICENSING BENCH.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 18 June, p. 4, viewed 4 February, 2014,
  21. 1866 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 20 February, p. 2, viewed 4 June, 2015,
  22. 1867 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 7 February, p. 4. , viewed 31 Oct 2019,
  23. 1867 'BALLARAT CIRCUIT COURT.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 16 July, p. 6. , viewed 31 Aug 2019,

External Links[edit | edit source]