Pioneer Hotel (Durham Lead)

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For other hotels with the same or similar names, see Pioneer Hotel.
Pioneer Hotel
Picture needed
Town Durham Lead
Known dates 1862-1930

The Pioneer Hotel was a hotel at Durham Lead, Victoria, <1862-1930>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The hotel was at Durham Lead.[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

In February 1862 the hotel was advertising pigeon shooting competitions:

PIGEON SHOOTING at the PIONEER HOTEL, Durham Lead, near Buninyong, on Thursday, 20th February, 1862. A Sweepstakes for a Gold Watch, value £20, by 20 members at £1 each; the guns not to be more than three-quarters of an inch bore. 21 yards rise, 60 yards boundary, 1½oz of shot. After the above, a Sweepstakes will be shot for, with £2 added; rules same as above. The Red House Rules to be strictly adhered to. Plenty of good Birds. Shooting to commence at 11 o'clock.[2]

The hotel was offered for sale in March 1863:

THE SALE OF MR MAISEY'S PIONEER HOTEL, &c, Durham Lead, will commence Eleven o'clock sharp.[3]

In August 1863, a boarder at the hotel was drowned in the Leigh River:

DROWNED WHILST CROSSING THE LEIGH. — A man named Peter Hamson, a boarder in the Pioneer Hotel, Durham Lend, was drowned on Monday morning, while crossing the River Leigh by means of a tree, at a distance of about a mile and a half from the hotel. He was working at the Durham Company's claim, but had been a sailor on board the Great Britain, which vessel he left on her last visit to Hobson's Bay. Hamson's body was immediately swept out of sight, and though all his mates were engaged in searching for it, they had been unsuccessful as late as three o'clock in the afternoon.[4]

In October 1863 the newspapers described a "riot" at the hotel. A number of drunk men decided to smash the hotel doors and windows. The police put a lot of the blame on the publican, William Randall Commins (Cummins), describing the hotel as a "rowdy house":

William Nicholson, John Armstrong, Henry Wilson, William Taynton, and James Caul were brought up charged with wilful destruction of property, on the night of the 18th October, at the Durham Lead, at the Pioneer Hotel, the property of Randall Cummins. Mr Harris appeared for the prosecution, and Mr M'Dermott for some of the prisoners. There was also an information to bind some of the prisoners (viz, Nicholson Wilson, and Caul) to the peace, they having subsequently threatened to take the life of the prosecutor. Randall Cummins deposed to the visit of the three last-named prisoners, and to his service upon them of summonses tor the previous destruction of property. They threatened to take his life and to destroy the house, using abusive language, and behaving in a violent end threatening manner. He rode into Buninyong and Mounted Constable Alexander went out, the prisoners banging about the place all night. Witness was in bodily fear of his life, and had taken out a warrant against the prisoners. Constable Alexander deposed to his finding the prisoners last named at the hotel, and the worse for liquor. They went away about an hour after his arrival. Constable Cummins who relieved Alexander, deposed that he saw the men walking about the house, over night, again at daybreak, he found them still about the premises, and wanting drink. He advised them to go away, and after awhile they did go. Sergeant Larner, of the central station, Ballarat, deposed that he knew Wilson during the last seven years as a brothel keeper and generally bad character, a charge of arson, and other charges having been at various times preferred against him. Of the others he could not speak positively, but he suspected one of ugly antecedents. Mr Harris asked the Bench to bind the three prisoners to the peace. The Police Magistrate said the Bench would hear the whole case first.

The prisoners Armstrong and Taynton, younger and decenter men than the others, were then brought forward. Mr Harris said he believed they had been partly led into the row by the other three. The prisoners had staid there on Saturday, boarded and slept and went away without paying for it. They had also got in a beastly state of intoxication in the prosecutor's absence and had all been engaged in the assault and battery upon the hotel, but Armstrong and Taynton had not been implicated in the subsequent threatening language and behaviour. Randall Cummins deposed that it was the prisoners Armstrong and Taynton who began the first row. They alone smashed in his sashes and doors, and one of them only failed in breaking the lamp through being too drunk to aim straight. After that, the other prisoners came up and joined in the as sault. A stone 75lbs weight was buried into the house by a window, and a bar of wood was called for to smash in the door. He was advised to go away, and he did. He found afterwards that the prisoners had got into the house, and bad broken whatever they could lay hands on. They swore they would break the whole place down ; and they did destroy doors, sashes, glass, furniture, and had knocked the front of the house about so as to make it need painting afresh. He estimated his damages at £9 5s 6d, exclusive of "summonses, warrants, and other things." Cross-examined-Armstrong and Taynton came to my place on Sunday morning, and I served them with drink. They were not lodgers at that time. They went away, and came back beastly drunk. Cannot say whether or not they were in my house after one o'clock. It was in the evening when they came back drunk and made the row. I do not remember their being in my house between one p.m. and the evening. They played with dice but not with cards in my house on Sunday. Don't believe I took £1 of them that day. I did not take £5 for drink that Sunday. Don't know if I took £3. I was not drunk. I don't know if I had half a dozen drinks that day. Very likely I drunk at the expense of some of the prisoners. I was perfectly sober, for I knew I would have plenty to do with the rowdy characters that day. I admit no rowdy if I can help it, but I am without protection, and have had to apply to Mr Hill for police protection. I shouldn't do that if I kept a rowdy house. Re-examined I have no police protection, and have been obliged to let in rowdy characters for fear of my life. I applied two months ago for police protection. The Clerk of the Court and a constable is going out to-morrow.

Mr M'Dermott addressed the Bench and said if there had been a row in the part of the premises, there had also been the grossest, most open, and most profligate violation of the law on the part of the publican in permitting the greatest profligacy and profanity on the Sabbath in violation of his own recognizance. The publican for sooth, pretended that he was obliged to make people drunk, and play dice and so forth on the Sunday, because there were no police there. Why, the prosecutor allowed scenes of infamy that would hardly be worse than brothel-keeping, and counsel would gloat over the burning down of every house which was conducted in the way in which the prosecutor appeared to have conducted his, where immorality, profligacy, and gambling were carried on the Sunday. Counsel would show that the publican himself was drunk, and caused the riot by assaulting the prisoners. The best way would be to take away his license and make the prisoners bear the expense of a certain portion of the repairs. Nicholas Harrison deposed that he was at the Pioneer Hotel on the Sunday, and had all the drink he wanted. He did not see that the prosecutor was drunk, and of course, therefore, he (Cummins) was sober. Richardson was well known to be the man who threw in the big stone, and Cummins knew it, for Richardson said so in Cummins' presence, but Richardson had a bit of more money than t'other and he wasn't summoned. Ralph Low, a lodger in the hotel, deposed that Cummins, the landlord, was sober, but drinking and dice-playing were going on. The Bench fined each prisoner £2 fines and damages, or, in default, seven days' imprisonment each. The prisoners Wilson, Nicholson, and Caul, were also ordered to find securities besides their own recognisance in £25 for keeping the peace for three months.[1]

In October 1864 there was another drowning at the ford over the Leigh River. John Maizey, a school teacher and manager of the Durham United Gold Mining Company had borrowed the publican's horse, but was swept into the river:

The circumstances attending the death of John Maizey, schoolmaster and manager of the Durham United Gold Mining Company, were made the subject of investigation before the district coroner, at the Garibaldi Hotel, parish of Enfield, on Saturday...Witness saw him several times on the 6th inst, looking for his own horse, and at five o'clock gave up the search. Having occasion to go to the Pioneer Hotel, deceased borrowed Mr Commins' horse, which, having previously been at Buninyong, was tired and weak. Witness saw deceased ride down the hill-side towards the ford across the Leigh, Witness then lost sight of him, but his attention was arrested by hearing a scream. On looking round he saw Mr Commins' horse in the water below the footbridge, and the deceased as if standing up in the water, his hand upraised, and singing out. Witness saw him trying to make his way to the side upon which the former stood. Witness went to the deceased's assistance, but he had gone under twice or thrice before witness could get up. As the back of deceased's head alone was visible, it was presumed that he never breathed again. The place where he sank was eight feet in depth.[5]

The hotel was offered for sale in November 1865:

FOR SALE, the PIONEER HOTEL, Durham Lead. This Hotel is well situated, and doing a first-rate business, it being the only Hotel between Buninyong and the Garibaldi claim; and on the direct road to all the claims on the above lead. For further information apply to the proprietor, or to Mr P. Commins, Timber Merchant, Main road; or R. Ed. Odium, Commission Agent, opposite Craig's Hotel, Lydiard street, Ballarat.[6]

In November 1915 the publican was charged with a number of offences related to Sunday trading:

Matthew Charlton, licensee of the Pioneer hotel, Durham Lead was charged with failing to have the bar door locked on Sunday, 7th November, at 7.30 p.m. There were further charges that beer was unlawfully drunk on the premises on 7th November, and that persons were found on the premises. Insp Sampson prosecuted, and Mr J. M. Kirkpatrick defended...Const Olney stated that at 8.30 p.m. on Thursday, 7th November, he and Const Clarke visited the hotel and went to the back of it. The place was wild open. The licensee was lying, dressed, on a bed in one of the back rooms. They roused him and found he was drunk, helplessly drunk. He took them to the bar. Several glasses were on the bar counter, some of them containing stale beer and others froth. A pint pot was half-filled with what appeared to be fresh beer. The whole place seemed to show signs of recent trading..."[7]

Some charges were dropped when it was shown the people in the hotel were lodgers, but the bar door had been unlocked:

Mr Kirkpatrick said there was no defence to the remaining charge of not having the bar door locked. Defendant was fined £10 with 12s costs. Insp Sampson said the licensee had informed Const Olney he did not intend to ply for a renewal of the licence and that the hotel was in the hands of agents for sale. Mr Kirkpatrick informed the Bench that the hotel belonged to the family and the licensee had not had charge of it very long. There was not a living in it, and it was impossible for him to pay the fine. He asked if the fine could be reduced. The P.M. agreed to reduce the fine to £7, and gave 10 days to pay. He added that people who put a man of that sort into an hotel deserved to be punished. "It only accidentally came into his hands, " observed the Inspector.[7]

In January 1918 the publican was charged with Sunday trading:

In the Buninyong police court on Monday, Edward Charlton, licensee of the Pioneer Hotel, Durham Lead, was fined £5, with costs, on a charge of having had the bar door open on Sunday, 2nd December. Two men who were found on the premises were each fined £1.[8]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

The hotel was the venue for inquests, community and company meetings including:

Inquests[edit | edit source]

  • In September 1864 the hotel was the venue for an inquest into the death of Mary Ann Harrison who had cut her throat with a razor. She was the wife of John Harrison, landlord of the nearby Cumberland Hotel.[9]

Mining[edit | edit source]

Politics[edit | edit source]

  • William Clarke, February 1877, committee room for the Grenville election.[12]
  • August 1880, meeting to support local councillor Mr. McLennan's bid for State Parliament.[13]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1863 'BUNINYONG POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 24 October, p. 4, viewed 6 October, 2015,
  2. 1862 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 February, p. 3. , viewed 01 May 2019,
  3. 3.0 3.1 1863 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 26 March, p. 3. , viewed 24 Feb 2021,
  4. 1863 'No title', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 26 August, p. 6. , viewed 04 Oct 2018,
  5. 5.0 5.1 1864 'FATAL ACCIDENTS.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 10 October, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR), viewed 04 Oct 2018,
  6. 1865 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 November, p. 1. , viewed 05 Oct 2018,
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 1915 'LODGERS.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1882; 1914 - 1918), 30 November, p. 1. , viewed 03 Oct 2018,
  8. 8.0 8.1 1918 'COUNTRY NEWS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 16 January, p. 8. , viewed 03 Oct 2018,
  9. 1864 'MELANCHOLY DEATH AT THE DURHAM LEAD.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 19 September, p. 1. (SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR), viewed 03 Oct 2018,
  10. 1864 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 October, p. 3. , viewed 05 Oct 2018,
  11. 1865 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 December, p. 4. , viewed 04 Oct 2018,
  12. 1877 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 February, p. 3. , viewed 03 Feb 2019,
  13. 1880 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 11 August, p. 2. , viewed 01 Nov 2018,
  14. 1877 'BUNINYONG LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 December, p. 4. , viewed 27 Mar 2017,
  15. 1883 'BUNINYONG ANNUAL LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 December, p. 3. , viewed 19 Jan 2018,
  16. 1930 'LICENCES TRANSFERRED.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 2 September, p. 5. , viewed 04 Oct 2018,

External Links[edit | edit source]