Town Hall Hotel (Daylesford)

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For other hotels with the same or similar names, see Town Hall Hotel.
Town Hall Hotel
Picture needed
Town Daylesford
Known dates 1909-1922

The Town Hall Hotel was a hotel in Daylesford, Victoria, <1909-1922>.

Site[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

History[edit | edit source]

Hotel sale 1909[edit | edit source]

In 1909 there was a legal dispute over the sale of the hotel.[1] The sale was caught up in a bitter divorce argument between the hotel broker and his wife. She had ripped up the sale contracts and the new contracts were claimed to be fraudulent:

THE DAYLESFORD HOTEL CASE. SENSATIONAL EVIDENCE, DR. MALONEY'S NAME INTRODUCED. The case in regard to an agreement for the taking over of an hotel at Daylesford was further inquired into in the Banco Court on Wednesday, before the Chief Justice. Plaintiff was Flora Jenkins, late of East Melbourne, and defendants were Mrs Margaret Thorpe, of Domain street, South Yarra, and Joseph Lanfranchi, of Daylesford. Mr. Hayes (instructed by Mr. Tuthill, of Ballarat) appeared for plaintiff ; Mr. Hotchin (instructed by Mr Ebsworth) for Mrs. Thorpe ; and Mr. Bryant (instructed by Messrs. Kirby and Woodward) for Lanfranchi, of Eaglehawk-Plaintiff claimed the return to her of £600 which she had paid to T. H. Parker, as agent, on the signing of an agreement for taking over the Town Hall Hotel and Daylesford Coffee Palace, of which Margaret Thorpe was then the licensee and Lanfranchi the owner. The general defence was a denial of any fraud or false representations in regard to the transaction. Particulars of the case have already been published. When the case was called on on Wednesday.

Thomas Alexander Wilson, an ex-clerk in Parker's employ, was further cross-examined by Mr. Hayes. Counsel produced a document which was in the hand-writing of witness. This had been prepared at the instance of Mr. Tuthill, solicitor for Mrs. Jenkins. It purported to explain witness's whole knowledge of the case. Mr. Bryant: This precious document which you have just read was, I suppose, prepared by you in the interests of justice? Witness : Yes. It is not because you are filled with spite towards Parker? — No. I wrote it because the agreement of 31st October contains something in it which was not there when Mrs. Jenkins signed it. There is something in this statement which you have struck out. viz: — Parker talks fight to his male victims, and where he can he assails the virtue of his female victims, and thereby effectually shuts their mouths. Why was this passage erased ? — It is merely a matter of hearsay, and not of individual knowledge. Who made the statement to you? — Parker himself; but I have no confidence in the truth of his statements. What do you mean by saying that there is something in that document of 31st October which was not in it when Mrs. Jenkins signed it? — The following words were not in ; — Should the purchaser not complete, her purchase subject to the conditions named in the contract, all moneys so received shall be absolutely forfeited to the vendor. You assert that that forfeiture clause was not in it when Mrs. Jenkins signed the contract?— I say absolutely that those words were not mentioned or read to Mrs. Jenkins when she signed the contract. Did you ever say it would be worth £100 to you if you could get at Parker's safe? — Certainly not. I did not make such a statement to a man named Kelly. He is a man who has been working for Parker since I left. In connection with the divorce proceedings of Parker v. Parker, have you since you left his employ, assisted Mrs. Parker in her defence? — No ; but I went with her to the offices of Messrs. Corr and Corr vhen she wanted to consult a solicitor.

Margaret Sarah Isabell Parker was sworn. She said that she was the wife of T. H. Parker, a witness in the present case. She was not at present on good terms with her husband. She knew Wilson, who had been in her husband's employ as a clerk. He had brought her papers several times since she had been separated from her husband. Wilson served her with the divorce proceedings. Since then he had been drinking heavily. He used to come to her house nearly every day. Mr. Bryant: What did you do with the papers Wilson gave you? Witness : I was very desperate towards my husband at that time, and tore them up. They were all sorts of papers. A lot of them were contracts. Mr. Bryant : Can you tell me the names of any of the hotels, to which the papers referred ? Witness : Need I answer that question, your Honor ? His Honor: I think you should answer it. Mr. Bryant : Did you see any papers in connection with any properly at Daylesford? Witness: Yes, I remember that, to my sorrow. It was the Daylesford Coffee Palace and hotel. The writing was on pink paper. You know the coffee palace and hotel at Daylesford ? — Yes, to my sorrow, I stayed there. I do not know to what other hotels any of the papers brought to me by Wilson referred. What did he tell you at the time? — He told me that Miss Bray had got hold of Mr. Parker, saying, "It is no good you thinking of getting Tom back again." I said, "If Miss Bray has got him, she will have to fight for him." Then I went down and smashed the windows of Parker's office. (Laughter.) Did Wilson say why he brought you the papers? — I think for revenge against Parker, because my husband had done some thing to him. Wilson was with me when I tore the document up. That was in my house in Perry street. Was Wilson drunk or sober at the time? — He was quite sober. Were you sober at the time? — Yes. I do drink, but I never drank before my husband gave it to me. Were you not on the variety stage in the name of "Musette" Parker, in which name the lease of your office is signed? — No; I was never on the stage, but we had a musical company of our own. My husband and myself ran it. I never performed at all, but I did the other work. Why is the hotel brokering business in your name? — Am I obliged to answer that question? Certainly you are. Please tell me?— I wanted it pub in my name because I had saved the money and paid it over to my husband. Was not the object so that your husband's creditors could not touch the money? — No. I swear that was not the reason. How did you get the money?— I would rather not answer. I should like you to answer ? — There are divorce proceedings pending. I ask how did you get it? — I saved it. How?— Must I incriminate myself? Mr. Bryant: You had better answer. Witness (sobbing) : From presents. His Honor : Why did you object to answer the question, if your answer is true? Witness: I say that I saved it from presents, your Honor. Mr. Hayes : Presents from whom ? Witness: From Dr. Maloney. His Honor : Oh, I see! Mr. Hayes : May I ask how much Dr. Maloney gave you? — No. No, I won't; say. Was it cash—or what ?— I won't say. You will not say? — No, I will not say. You created a scene outside the court yesterday? Yes. You chased your husband?— I wanted to speak to him. He ran away from you, and took shelter in a building? — Good gracious, no! But if I had got hold of that man Kelly (Parker's present clerk) I would hare made him remember. I want Kelly. Did you chase Kelly?— Yes. My husband was with him. If it's three years hence I'll chase Kelly. And scratching his face will not be good enough for him, either, (Laughter.) What was your real object for tearing up these papers? — I wanted to pull my husband down so that Miss Bray shall not have him. I wanted him to come down to the level he was in when I married him — when he had no money. I want to see if she will live with him then. The one object of my life is to "down" that woman. That is why I destroyed the papers. His Honor said there was no certainty that the papers Mrs. Parker said she destroyed were the ones required in this case. He could not alter his decision. He was not certain that the document of 28th October was not still available, and therefore secondary evidence in regard to the agreement of 31st October could not be given.

MELBOURNE, Thursday, July 29. The hearing was continued to-day. Thomas H. Parker, in further examination said he never concealed from Mrs. Jenkins that she was signing a new document on October 31, in place of the one of October 28. When Mrs. Jenkins signed the document of October 31; witness placed the other one in the safe. He still returned the £100 deposit, but was ready to produce it. He was willing to pay it in subject to his commission. Mr. Hayes : I accept the offer. When will you pay it in. Witness said he would pay it in if His Honor wished. His Honor said he had no wish in the matter. Mr. Hayes : WilI you pay the money in after lunch ? Witness: I want to consult Mr. Bryant first. He would contradict both Mrs. Jenkins and her son when they said that he never read over the agreement of October 28. He thought that if Mrs. Jenkins had known that the bailiff's were in possession, she would have gone on with the negotiations. The agreement of October 28 remained in his safe until October 31, when Mrs. Jenkins called. He would swear that the initials "F.J.," on Mrs. Jenkins' cheque were hers. He could not say whether he had drawn against the cheque. His firm was entitled to expenses above their commission, but he never said that he intended to cut up the £100 in expenses.

Walter Weaver, clerk in the employment of the witness Parker, stated that on October 31, before Mr. Jenkins signed it, Mr. Parker read the amended contract right through to her. Mrs. Jenkins also looked over the document herself before she signed it. He saw her write her signatures and initials. To Mr. Hayes : I did not tell Wilson that I knew enough to put Parker in gaol for the rest of his life. The case has not concluded.[2]

Licensing hearings 1915[edit | edit source]

The hotel was included on a list of hotels considered for closure in 1915. There was a lengthy discussion on the hotel, particularly about the accommodation available, as a some point the accommodation wing was separated from the hotel, probably to reduce the value and reduce the licensing fees:

TOWN HALL HOTEL. Mr Neal (of Bendigo) for the owner, Joseph Lanfranchi, and Mr Grano (of Ararat) for the executors in the estate of the late Richard Childe. The licensee, Herbert A. Rowe, was not represented. Supt. Bennett gave evidence that the hotel contained 12 rooms. There were two bedrooms for the public and two for the family. It was two storey, and of brick, in good repair. The yard was small and poor; it would accommodate five motor cars, and had a two-stalled stable. The diningroom and kitchen were very small. It had the poorest accommodation for the public of any hotel in Daylesford. It appeared to exist solely for the bar trade. By Mr Neal: If the hotel were run in conjunction with Belvedere it would never have been on the list. There was nothing against the conduct of the hotel.

Mr Neal said there was a covenant in the lease which made it clear that the two places were to be run as one, and by the one person. Mr Lanfranchi knew nothing concerning the sub-letting of the hotel. The sub-lease had been given as a wedding present from the late Mr Childe to Mr Rowe, his son-in-law, Mr Lanfranchi had never given his consent to the sub-lease, and had never been asked for it. Mr Barr: Why did not Mr. Lanfranchi make application to the Licensing Bench to have Belvedere House incorporated with the hotel ? Mr Neal: The Licensing Bench said the two places were separated when application was made by the inspector to have the valuation raised, because, as he asserted, the two places were practically one. Supt. Bennett: The present licensee pointed out to me the rooms I mentioned as being the whole of the licensed premises.

Sergeant Myers stated that the hotel did solely a bar trade. The two places were divided by walls and an archway. From the street the two places looked as one. He was not aware of any connection between the two places. By Mr NeaI: I don't know Belvedere house very well. It would be a distinct acquisition to the town if the two premises were licensed as one. There is a balcony along the front of the two places. I placed the Town Hall first on the list because it had no accommodation. I am sure the hotel does a big bar trade, and supplies the want in that direction. The Commercial Hotel is old and dilapidated externally, but I would not put it on the list. I don't know that there is an old well or workings under the hotel. The Chairman: Don't frighten us, Mr Neal. It would be a sad calamity if the Board and Superintendent fell through. (Laughter.) Mr Neal, after considerable argument with the Board, stated that arrangements had now been made whereby the two premises were to be knocked into one and licensed accordingly at the next Licensing Court. The Chairman: How do we know that such will be done ? We told owners five years ago that hotels without proper accommodation would be delicensed. Not a thing has been done during that time to comply with the requirements. If you can show us that the two premises are licensed as one we will listen to you. Why didn't you have the sub-lease set aside? Mr Neal: We never knew of its existence until we came here yesterday. Mr Barr: I really believe that you people never intended to license the two promises as one.

Constable Strain said that the hotel had always been run separately. No application or attempt had ever been made to convert Belvedere House into an hotel. Licensing inspector Irvine endeavored to have the two places assessed as the one licensed premises, but it was opposed by the licensee, Mrs. Thorpe. By Mr Neal: There was a lot of motor traffic to and past the hotel. By Supt. Bennett: There is motor accommodation at the Raglan Hotel. To the Board: I think there are enough drinking houses, without the Town Hall, and as it has no accommodation I think it can be well done without. I think it should go before Iveson's because the latter has a fair amount of accommodation. I should think by delicensing the Town Hall it would make no difference to Belvedere as a boarding house. I think the greater number of tourists prefer boarding houses to hotels. I have seen a number of girls on the balcony at Belvedere singing out and making a noise at times. (Laughter.) By Neal: I don't think the better class of tourists stay at hotels. I should say the Commercial Hotel should be the last to go in Daylesford. This closed the case for the Licensing Inspector Mr Neai submitted that the owner should not be penalised for some thing over which he had no control. He had never been asked by the Inspector to knock the two places into one, or to build on to the hotel. The Chairman: If your client had not opposed the increased Assessment you would not have been here to-day. Surely you don't desire us to believe that the owner comes here as a child, and knows nothing about affairs concerning his own property.

Joseph Lanfranchi, the owner, gave evidence in accordance with Mr Neal's opening remarks. He effected improvements of 54 bedrooms, at a cost of £2000. He also extended the balcony along the front of the hotel. In addition, a sewerage system was erected for both promises, and an acetylene lighting plant. There were 97 rooms in Belvedere House. Mrs Thorpe was the lessee for five years, when witness carried it on himself for three years. Mr Childe then took a 15 years lease, and also carried on the two businesses for a period of two years. Before Mr Childe's death, Miss Michael's was managing the places, and owing to a disagreement between them the latter went away, and Mr H. A. Rowe was appointed manager of the two places. He had no knowledge of the sub-lease of the hotel to Mr Rowe until July 1913, prior to Mr Childe's death. He got the information from Mr Rowe himself, and expressed surprise that his consent had not been asked for. The reply was that it was unnecessary. Witness did not believe as the existence of the lease Mr Childe, before his death suggested building at the back of the hotel and plans were prepared, but nothing occurred on account of Mr Childe's death. Subsequently Mr Rowe saw witness about plans, and witness did not consider the one submitted satisfactory. Rowe said if he did not rebuild he would be delicensed, and witness replied that there was plenty of accommodation if a hole was made in the wall and the whole made one licensed premises. Mr Rowe later said he had seen the trustees and they could not agree about taking it over. He now found that Rowe was carrying on the hotel, and the trustees Belvedere House. When witness ran the place himself he had six bedrooms at the hotel for public use. The trade was a fair all round one, and one winter he had 22 permanent boarders. At one Easter he took £490 in five days from the two places. The hotel was largely availed of by tourists staying at Belvedere and liquor was served at meals there. The place was run down when witness took it, in consequence of Mrs Thorpe not getting on too well. Mr Neal: The trustees are arranging for Mr Rowe to take over the whole premises. Mr Lanfranchi to connect the places at his own expense. If necessary, a written agreement to have the two places assessed as one would be given to the Licensing Inspector, and that they will apply to the court to have that done. Supt. Bennett: I would certainly object to anyone cheating the Government out of a portion of the license for twelve months. That has been the action of this man all along. He wanted to save the extra license fee. By Supt. Bennett: I expected the Inspector to ask me to increase my accommodation if it were needed. I did not think it would make any difference to carry on the places separately.

Edwin E. Leggo, manager for H. A. Rowe, stated that he kept the books of the hotel. There were no house takings at all, people desiring meals and beds being sent to Belvedere House. The guests there availed themselves largely of the hotel. They were a good class of tourist, including many motorists, who placed their cars in the hotel garage, near which a special petrol house was built. At one time he managed both places from Nov. 12 till the date of Mr Childe's death. Entertainments were held next door (at the Town Hall) twice a week, and lodge and political meetings very frequently. Euchre parties, dancing and skating were regularly held in the Assembly Rooms at the rear, Many meetings and dances were held at Belvedere House, while Masonic banquets were also held there, in addition to smoke night concerts. Negotiations were going on to make the two places into one, and were almost completed. By the Board: The negotiations were carried on by the executors and Mrs Rowe's solicitors. The trouble appeared to be as to the terms. The two premises were included in the one lease at one rental. The places were worth about equal rents. By Supt. Bennett: I was general manager for Mr Childe up to his death on Dec, 3rd, 1913, and for six months after I managed Belvedere only. I don't know who handles the money at Belvedere House. No one at the hotel takes liquor up to Belvedere House. By Mr Grano: After Mr Childe's death I only managed Belvedere House for the trustees. John William King, merchant, said he had lived in Daylesford over 50 years, and knew the Town Hall premises for about 45 years. It was an admirable situation for an hotel, and was most convenient. There were now only two hotels on the western side of Daylesford, and if one or both were delicensed it would be most inconvenient. By Supt. Bennett: My opinion is that Belvedere and the hotel should be run as one. To delicense those two hotels will depreciate the value of property on that side of the street. To the Board: I think the hotels that exist now are required. At this stage the Board rose until yesterday morning, when the hearing regarding the Town Hall Hotel was resumed.

Mr Bromfield intimated that since the previous evening his services had been retained by the licensee, Mr H. A. Rowe. Joseph Lanfranchi recalled, said the rents for the two premises had always been paid into his account at the bank by the late Mr George Childe's executors. It was £30 odd per month, and on no occasion had any money been paid by Mr Rowe. A signed document was here produced, showing that arrangements had been made between the parties to license the two premises as one with Mr Rowe as licensee. Witness: Application is to be made at once to have the two premises assessed as one.

James Ross Griffith, manager of the bank of Victoria for 20 years, considered the hotel a great convenience to the public. The rents were always paid into the bank on behalf of Childe. By Mr Blomfield: Belvedere House is part of the same building. As a licensed premises, it would be better to add Belvedere House, but it all depended on whether visitors required a temperance place or not. Hugh Ross, auctioneer and sworn valuer, stated that he had valued the furniture at Belvedere House. It was good, as was that at the hotel. He thought there was about three times as much accommodation at the two places as at any other place in Daylesford. The hotel did a good class of trade, and if it were closed it would be a loss to the town and a detriment to the tourist traffic that patronised Belvedere House. Further, closing the hotel would depreciate the value of the property, and would affect property generally on that side of the street. He thought that females and children would comprise rather more than half of the tourists. By the Board: I believe there are rather more hotels than are required here. It would be an acquisition to the town to allow the Town Hall Hotel to remain. I think the hotelsthat are most convenient, most patronised, and therefore most necessary are those in the centre of the town. I would go further, and say that the three hotels listed in the main street should remain. By Mr Bromfield: The Commercial Hotel is an old building. There is nothing in the town to compare with the Town Hall and Belvedere combined...

Robert W. Sibbison, accountant at Belvedere House, said that they had about 800 victors during the year not including children. There would be 75 per cent of males. It would be hard to arrive at the length of their stay. It ran from three days to three weeks. Mr Bromfield said that from the evidence it was clear that Belvedere House would be a poor proposition without the hotel. The opportunity had now arisen to make the best hotel in Daylesford, and it should not be lost. Belvedere House was a losing proposition now, and it would be worse without the licensed premises adjoining.

Constable Strain, recalled, said from his observation there would be from three to four women to every man amongst the visitors to Belvedere House. The majority of women, and children preferred boarding houses to hotels. By Neal: Sometimes I do town duty, but am generally in the country. I have never made enquires from hotels as to the number of males and females who stay at them. I am not married, fortunately. (Laughter.) Mr Neill: They tell me you never see anyone but the women. (Loud laughter.) By Mr Bromfield: I think very few hotels get any tourists at all. (Laughter.) Robert Sibbison (re-called): I think if the hotel were closed, Belvedere House would lose 100 out of 800. That would mean the better class of tourists—motorists particularly. Decision was reserved.[3]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1909 'HOTEL TRANSACTION.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 31 July, p. 9, viewed 7 February, 2015,
  2. 2.0 2.1 1909 'THE DAYLESFORD HOTEL CASE.', The Bendigo Independent (Vic. : 1891 - 1918), 30 July, p. 6. , viewed 18 Aug 2019,
  3. 3.0 3.1 1915 'LICENSES REDUCTION BOARD.', Daylesford Advocate, Yandoit, Glenlyon and Eganstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), 13 March, p. 3. , viewed 30 May 2018,
  4. 1914 'DAYLESFORD LICENSING COURT', Daylesford Advocate, Yandoit, Glenlyon and Eganstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), 8 December, p. 2. , viewed 12 Dec 2019,
  5. 1915 'LICENSING COURT.', Daylesford Advocate, Yandoit, Glenlyon and Eganstown Chronicle (Vic. : 1914 - 1918), 16 December, p. 3. , viewed 16 Dec 2019,
  6. 1920 'Country Hotel Transfers.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 9 March, p. 8. , viewed 27 Feb 2021,
  7. 1922 'COUNTRY HOTEL TRANSFERS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 21 February, p. 11. , viewed 29 Apr 2018,

External Links[edit | edit source]