Victoria Hotel (Armstrong Street)

From Hotels of Ballarat
For other Victoria Hotels, see Victoria Hotel.
Victoria Hotel
c. 1874, Mitchell Library, State Library of New South Wales
Town Ballarat
Street Armstrong Street
Opened 1854
Known dates 1854-1914
Other names 21 Arms Hotel
Google maps -37.560490, 143.856314

The Victoria Hotel was a hotel in Ballarat, Victoria, 1854-1915>.

Site[edit | edit source]

The Victoria Hotel was in Armstrong Street, Ballarat.[1][2] In 1855 it is described as being next door to the Union Wine and Spirit Store.[3] In 1856 Dent and Southward, Timber Merchants, advertised they were located near the hotel.[4]

The site on the corner of Wigton Place, is now 21 Armstrong Street North.

Map[edit | edit source]

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Background[edit | edit source]

Advertisement for the lease, 1873

The hotel was built in 1854 by George Anderson, making it one of the earliest hotels in Ballarat.[1]

History[edit | edit source]

The hotel had a refreshment booth at the Ballarat races in December 1856:

"...With respect to the refreshment-booths, the first next to the grand stand, was one belonging to Mr Anderson, of the Victoria Hotel, on the township..."[5]

In April 1863, the hotel wanted a "smart, active lad".[6]

In July 1868, the hotel was advertising for a first-class laundress.[7]

April 1914, Fred Ratcliffe takes over the hotel

In February 1873 John White was advertising he had taken over from Mr. Henry Cherry:

VICTORIA HOTEL, ARMSTRONG STREET, BALLARAT JOHN WHITE, Late of Sturt Street, Opposite Theatre Royal, HAVING succeeded Mr H. Cherry as Proprietor of the above Well-known and Comfortable Hostelry, begs to assure METROPOLITAN and UP-COUNTRY VISITORS That the VICTORIA, as now conducted, offers all the comforts of a Home with the services of a First-class Family and Commercial Hotel. The arrangements in the CELLAR and CULINARY Departments are now all that can be desired. The BEDROOMS are lofty and well ventilated, and contain every requisite comfort, the Hostess devoting particular attention to this department of the Hotel. The BATHROOMS are comfortably fitted up, and are available at all hours. The Travelling Public Per Early Trains and Cobb's Coaches will find the VICTORIA the most comfortable Hotel in Ballarat Passengers by Night Coaches into and out of Ballarat may depend upon being carefully attended to. First-class Stabling and Loose Bowes. JOHN WHITE, Proprietor.[8]


The hotel was offered for lease in October 1873:

TO LET, THE VICTORIA HOTEL, ARMSTRONG STREET. ESTABLISHED in 1854. Containing Bar, four Parlors, Diningroom, twenty Bedrooms, Bathroom, Storeroom, Kitchen, Cellar; also, Brick Stables containing fourteen stalls and five loose boxes. Apply Rowlands and Lewis, Dana street[9]

In December 1873, Bridget Foley was advertising that she was now running the hotel:

VICTORIA HOTEL, ARMSTRONG STREET, BALLARAT. MRS TIMOTHY FOLEY Having taken the above central and commodious Hotel, so long and favorably known as CHERRY’S VICTORIA HOTEL, desires to thank her friends and the public generally; for the liberal patronage so long accorded to her late husband, and trusts to merit a continuance of the same, assuring them that every exertion will be made conducive to their comfort. As a Commercial Hotel, the above will be found very convenient, being within three minutes' walk of the Western Railway Station, Post Office, &c., and situated in the centre of the business part of the city. For Private Families the accommodation is unsurpassed for comfort and convenience. CHARGES STRICTLY MODERATE. GOOD STABLING.[10]

In February 1906 there were complicated problems in transferring the license:

The application of John Davey to transfer the Victoria hotel license to Ellen Davey, his sister-in-law, was also held over. It Appears that the present licensee contemplates leaving the hotel, and his brother, William Davey, bought the business for his wife. William Davey, however, holds the license of the Saracen's Head hotel, and on being called informed the bench that he also intended giving up his hotel and would then seek the re-transfer of the Victoria hotel license from his wife. The case was a rather involved one, but the bench held that the business of the Victoria hotel was really William Davey’s, and he having one license could not hold a second one. The case was therefore held over pending the settlement of the business.[11]

The hotel name changed in 1914. In some newspaper reports the hotel was still known as the Victoria by the Ballarat Courier, but the Ballarat Star referred to it as Ratcliffe's Commercial Hotel.[12][13]

In December 1914 the police unsuccessfully opposed the renewal of the publican's license:

Inspector Sampson in opening the case against Ratcliffe's Commercial Hotel, said the house was not conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Licensing Act. Street betting was rampant in Ballarat and the men crowded into the hotels for cover. Ratcliffe's Hotel was a place which had been particularly identified with that kind of thing. Some opposition had been shown to the police by Mr Ratcliffe, whose attitude was such that they could not be assured that the practice of permitting betting on the premises would be stopped Sergeant Nicholson stated that he had frequently visited the hotel. He had seen betting men about the premises. One day, when he visited the hotel he saw some street betters in a right of way near the hotel, but as soon as they saw the police they went into the hotel. Another day when he went to the hotel, he saw a drunken man lying on the sofa in the hotel.The police always had some difficulty in seeing Mr Ratcliffe. When he first saw Mr. Ratcliffe and warned him of the betting men frequenting the premises, he professed ignorance of the state of affairs. Mr Ratclifle did not take notice of the warning, and later when he visited the hotel again, street betters were about the place.

To Mr Coldham — Mr Ratcliffe could not stop men from being in the right of way. If Mr Ratcliffe did not encourage street betters, they would not frequent the hotel.Detective-Sergeant Rogerson deposed that he had been watching the hotel.On Derby Day there was some twenty or thirty people in front of the hotel, but when they saw him coming they made off into the hotel. He had frequently seen crowds of men who frequented racecourses, hanging about the premises. He had seen one reputed bookmaker in front of the hotel. To Mr Coldham — He had not seen any bookmaking in the hotel. Constable O'Brien stated that on the occasions of the Melbourne and Williamstown Cups and other Melbourne races he had watched the hotel for several hours at a time, and had seen reputed bookmakers entering and leaving the hotel. One day when standing in front of the hotel he heard a man say to a reputed bookmaker, "How are the odds to-day?' but as the bookmaker saw witness he did not reply, but went into the hotel. He had seen 'spotters' about the premises. Several times a man who was engaged as a 'spotter' gave warning to his associates when witness was approaching, and they then entered the hotel. To Mr Coldham — He would not say the 'spotters' were employed by Mr Ratcliffe. Plainclothes-Constable Craig deposed to warning the licensee about betting on the premises. Up to the time he warned Mr Ratcliffe he was frequently in the presence of reputed bookmakers, but subsequently the licensee was more cautious in picking his associates. Whenever he visited the hotel there were crowds of men sitting in the parlor and the bar. Nearly every Saturday afternoon there were reputed bookmakers and street betters in front of and about the hotel.

Inspector Sampson, also gave evidence. Despite repeated warnings, Mr Ratcliffe had failed to conduct his business in the way he should. Mr. Coldham said there was no direct evidence that the men who frequented the hotel were betting men. It was only supposition on the part of the police. His Honor— Yes, but these men must have a place of refuge when the police come on the scene. Mr. Coldham maintained that the evidence was only suspicious. His Honor said the court did not think there was sufficient evidence on which to refuse the renewal of the license. Speaking for himself, he had very grave doubts about the conduct of the hotel. It was absurd to think that the landlord was not aware of the doings of persons constantly around his hotel. He thought the licensee knew perfectly well what was going on. It was nonsense to say he could not stop betting people going into the hotel. He hoped the case would have an effect on the conduct of the house in the future. Messrs Rohan and Berryman also concurred with this view, it being remarked that the police had the done right in bringing the matter before the court. The case was very suspicious.[14]

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.[15]

Community Involvement[edit | edit source]

Inquests[edit | edit source]

  • May 1870, an inquest into the murder of Catherine Ann Moss and the suicide of James Matthew Cook.[16]

Unions[edit | edit source]

  • March 1881, Ballarat Cabmen's Union was formed at a meeting in the hotel.[17]

The People[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Hargreaves, John. Ballarat Hotels Past and Present, pg. 2, 1943, Ballarat
  2. 2.0 2.1 1863 'BALLARAT WEST PUBLICANS' ANNUAL LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 June, p. 4, viewed 7 February, 2014,
  3. 1855 'Advertising.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 22 September, p. 1, viewed 28 December, 2015,
  4. 1856 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 August, p. 1. , viewed 07 May 2019,
  5. 1856 'BALLARAT RACES.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 17 December, p. 3. , viewed 08 May 2019,
  6. 1863 'Advertising', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 22 April, p. 3. , viewed 27 Jan 2018,
  7. 1868 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 3 July, p. 3. , viewed 20 Jan 2018,
  8. 8.0 8.1 1873 'Advertising', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1882; 1914 - 1918), 6 February, p. 3. , viewed 02 Aug 2018,
  9. 1873 'Advertising', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1880; 1914 - 1918), 15 October, p. 3. , viewed 17 Mar 2017,
  10. 1873 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 23 December, p. 4. , viewed 01 Mar 2018,
  11. 1906 'POLICE COURTS.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 17 February, p. 8. , viewed 17 May 2020,
  12. 1914 'RENEWAL OBJECTED TO.', The Ballarat Courier (Vic. : 1869 - 1878; 1914 - 1918), 2 December, p. 5. (DAILY.), viewed 08 May 2016,
  13. 1914 'BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 2 December, p. 6. , viewed 08 May 2016,
  14. 14.0 14.1 1914 'BALLARAT LICENSING COURT.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 2 December, p. 6. , viewed 08 May 2016,
  15. 1915 'LICENSES REDUCTION BOARD.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 23 March, p. 10, viewed 13 February, 2014,
  16. 1870 'THE LATE TRAGEDY AT BALLARAT.', The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954), 23 May, p. 3. , viewed 03 Aug 2018,
  17. 17.0 17.1 1881 'NEWS AND NOTES.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 March, p. 2. , viewed 03 Jul 2020,
  18. The Geelong, Ballarat, and Creswick's Creek commercial directory and almanac for 1856 : with a map of Geelong, 1856.
  19. 1858 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 12 June, p. 2. , viewed 08 Aug 2019,
  20. 1859 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 28 May, p. 2, viewed 1 June, 2015,
  21. 1861 'LICENSING SESSIONS.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 14 June, p. 1 Supplement: SUPPLEMENT TO THE STAR., viewed 12 March, 2014,
  22. 1862 'DISTRICT POLICE COURT.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 25 June, p. 4, viewed 17 February, 2014,
  23. 1864 'DISTRICT PUBLICANS' LICENSING MEETING.', The Star (Ballarat, Vic. : 1855 - 1864), 2 July, p. 4. , viewed 10 Oct 2016,
  24. 1869 'Advertising', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 4 February, p. 4. , viewed 26 Sep 2016,
  25. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 15 March, p. 3. , viewed 03 Jan 2019,
  26. 1873 'LICENSING BENCH.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 24 December, p. 4. , viewed 18 Jun 2017,
  27. 1875 'POLICE.', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 December, p. 4. , viewed 19 Aug 2022,
  28. 1885 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 22 December, p. 2. , viewed 29 Jan 2018,
  29. 1888 'No title', The Ballarat Star (Vic. : 1865 - 1924), 17 February, p. 2. , viewed 04 Jun 2017,
  30. Victorian Post Office Directory (Wise), 1888, pg.8
  31. 1906 'COUNTRY NEWS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 19 March, p. 5. , viewed 17 May 2022,
  32. 1914 Victorian Electoral Roll
  33. 1927 'PROVINCIAL CITIES AND TOWNS.', The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954), 20 January, p. 14. , viewed 13 Mar 2018,
  34. 1941 'HOTEL LICENCES.', The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957), 25 November, p. 2, viewed 3 February, 2014,

External Links[edit | edit source]