Nag's Head Hotel (Armstrong Street)

From Hotels of Ballarat
For other hotels with the same or similar names, see Nag's Head Hotel.
Nag's Head Hotel
Nag's Head Hotel, c. 2016
Town Ballarat
Street Armstrong Street
Closed 1920
Known dates 1868-1920
Evidence Building still standing

The Nag's Head Hotel was a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, <1868-1920.

Site[edit | edit source]

The Nag's Head Hotel was in Armstrong Street South, [1][2] on the corner with Chancery Lane.[3]

Background[edit | edit source]

The hotel lease was offered for sale in December 1868:

CENTRAL HOTEL for SALE.—In consequence of the illness of Mr Sheward, the LEASE for 21 years of the NAG'S HEAD HOTEL, Armstrong street, Ballarat, is for SALE. The house is newly built of brick and stone, and completely fitted up ; contains 17 rooms, kitchen, and servants' rooms. This is a good opportunity for a person of capital to secure a safe investment. Terms very liberal, extending over 21 years. Immediate possession may be had. Apply to Mr W. R. Smith, Mr Deeble s Auction Rooms ; or Mr Headdey, Lydiard street.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

In March 1874 a gang of thieves broke into the hotel through the cellar hatch. This was one of several hotel robbed this way:

There appears to be a gang of practised hotel-robbers about Ballarat, who have hitherto managed to elude the police. Some few days ago they effected an entrance into the Nags Head hotel, Armstrong street, by loosening the hinges from the cellar door outside and about two o’clock on Thursday morning a similar attempt - most likely by the same gang - was made at Mr. Steet's Carriers' hotel, Skipton street, but which, owing to the precautions taken, ended in a failure.[4]

On 22 March 1915, the hotel was included on a list of hotels to be deprived of their licenses. This list was complied by the Licenses Reduction Board in Melbourne. The Ballarat West licensing district hearings on this list were to be held on 27 April.[1]

In March 1920 the hotel was again included on a list of possible hotel closures by the Licenses Reduction Board:

The owner and licensee of the Nag's Head Hotel were represented by Mr J. B. Pearson. Senior-constable Paige gave evidence that the Nag’s Head Hotel was at the corner of Armstrong street and Chancery Lane, contained 17 rooms, including nine rooms for public use. The place was well furnished and kept very clean. Since the present licensee, Wm. Keys, had been in occupation of the house had been well kept. Travellers very seldom enquired for this hotel. Mr Pearson—They all know where it is? Witness- I suppose so. In reply to the Chairman, witness said the Town Hall occupied a better position than the Nag's Head. This hotel was the least required in this section for it had the least accommodation, and no stabling. Corroborative evidence was given by Constable Daniels. William Francis Keys, licensee of the Nag's Head Hotel, said he supplied 36 beds and 45 meals per month to the public.[5]

In March 1920 a young staff member at the hotel was charged with hiding the body of her baby under a bedroom floor of the hotel:

A girl named Eleanor Ann Simpson, who had been arrested the previous evening on a charge of concealment of birth, was present at the inquiry. Sergeant Rodgerson conducted the case on behalf of the police. Wm. Francis Keys, licensee of the Nag’s Head hotel, Armstrong street, said that he knew Eleanor Simpson, who was present in court. She was employed at the hotel on 22nd February last, which was the date she began to work there. She occupied No. 6 room, on the second floor. She remained in his employ till 25th March, when she left. On 17th March she became ill, and Dr Crawford was called in. The doctor said at the time that he noticed a strong smell in the room. Last Sunday witness noticed a very bad smell coming from No. 6, and went in to investigate. He search ed the room, and noticing that the smell was worse on the east aide, he looked closer, and noticed two boards loose. He raised them, and found what he took to be the remains of a child. He then told the police of his discovery. Sergeant Rogerson went over to the hotel, and examining the place, found the docket produced for goods sold on 12th inst. He was not aware that the girl Eleanor Simpson had given birth to a child. No other person but she had occupied that room between 2nd February and 23rd March, and no one had occupied the room since she had left the place. To Sergeant Rogerson—He might have caused the fracture of the skull noticed afterwards when he pulled the body out from its place of concealment, as he had used a pair of tongs to grip it. Mr Walker —Did you use sufficient force when pulling out the body with the tongs to fracture the skull?—l think I might hare done so; I grabbed the body up near the neck. It took some pulling out.

Dr Spring said that on 28th March he examined the body of an infant at the Morgue. It was that of a female child and fully developed. The body was in an advanced stage of decomposition, which had destroyed the whole of the abdominal organs and the brain. The parietal hone of the skull had been fractured, but it was impossible to say whether this had occurred before or after death. He was not able to form any opinion as to the cause of death. In his opinion the child had been dead from six to twelve weeks before the discovery. The fracture might have been caused by birth taking place in a certain way, It was not impossible for the fracture of the skull to have been caused by the body having been gripped by. a pair of tongs, but it was not very probable. He could not say whether the child had been alive at birth or not. In his opinion, the injuries to the skull were caused at the time of birth. Sergeant Rogerson gave evidence with regard to the finding of the body. On 29th inst., in company with Dettective Hingston he saw Eleanor Ann Simpson at Brown Hill. She admitted having given birth to a child at the Sunday after she took up work at the Nag’s Head hotel, and, having buried the child under the floor. He then arrested the girl and she was subsequently admitted to bail. Detective Hingston gave corroborative evidence. The girl told him that she did not put the body under the floor until two hours after the child was born, and that it showed no sign of life whatever from the time of its birth. The Deputy Coroner found:that the child had died from fracture of the skull and that there was no evidence to show how the injuries had been caused. The girl Eleanor Thompson ((should be Simpson) was then charged with concealment of birth and was committed for trial at the Supreme Court on 10th April.[6]

The hotel was one of six de-licensed hotels sold in November 1920:

The Nag's Head hotel, in Armstrong-street, and adjoining two story shop premises, realised £1600, the purchaser being Mr. F. Hasell... belonged to the Ballarat Brewing Company. Most of the hotels which were sold will be pulled down, and new premises built.[7]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

Inquests[edit | edit source]

  • May 1872, an inquest into the death of David Stedman, of Gordon.[8]

Mining[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1915 'LICENSES REDUCTION BOARD.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 23 March, p. 10, viewed 13 February, 2014,
  2. 2.0 2.1 1868 'Advertising.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1870; 1914 - 1918), 17 December, p. 3, viewed 28 October, 2014,
  3. 3.0 3.1 Victorian Post Office Directory (Wise), 1888, pg.8
  4. 1874 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 6 March, p. 2. , viewed 27 Jan 2019,
  5. 5.0 5.1 1920 'LICENSES REDUCTION BOARD.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 March, p. 3. , viewed 17 Jun 2019,
  6. 1920 'ALLEGED CONCEALMENT OF BIRTH', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 31 March, p. 3. , viewed 18 Jun 2019,
  7. 1920 'DELICENSED HOTELS SOLD.', The Horsham Times (Vic. : 1882 - 1954), 26 November, p. 8, viewed 4 May, 2015,
  8. 1872 'MYSTERIOUS DEATH IN STURT STREET.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 6 May, p. 2. , viewed 26 Jul 2018,
  9. 1874 'MINING MEETINGS.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 30 September, p. 4. , viewed 29 May 2017,
  10. 1871 'CITY LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 2 June, p. 4. , viewed 06 Dec 2017,
  11. 1872 'LICENSING BENCH', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1884; 1914 - 1918), 21 June, p. 3. , viewed 28 Feb 2021,
  12. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 December, p. 4. , viewed 29 May 2018,
  13. 1874 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 30 September, p. 4. , viewed 29 May 2017,
  14. 1879 'BALLARAT LICENSED VICTUALLERS’ ASSOCIATION.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 October, p. 2. , viewed 27 Jun 2023,
  15. 1885 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 10 September, p. 2. , viewed 03 Sep 2018,
  16. 1896 'THE COURTS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 16 December, p. 2. , viewed 02 Dec 2018,

External Links[edit | edit source]