The historic landmark that is the Penshurst Hotel was built for William Murphy in 1861. By the mid 1880’s it was owned by John Frewer and was known as Frewer’s Hotel.
J. Tilley bought the hotel at the start of 1888 and Mrs. Tilley started a Day Book (debit account) beginning on Monday 2nd January 1888. Customers were recorded on a numbered card as they undertook business and loans and this information was transferred to the Day Book.
The hotel had thirteen debtors the first day with well known district names amongst them. The first name recorded was Thomas Blair who collected two parcels – account two shillings. The second debtor was William Pearson (who maybe the William Pearson who had previously bought the Mount Rouse Inn from John Earls in 1864). The fourth debtor was Timothy Madigan who called in to have a heart starter. Number five was John Frewer – the previous owner.
The eleventh number in the Day book was Frank Olle who also collected a parcel followed by John Twomey 3rd who stayed for awhile by the number of drinks recorded.
On Tuesday four new debtors signed on including John Cameron and Charles Waller. Wednesday shows that John Earls (who owned the Mount Rouse Inn in 1864 and the Penshurst Hotel in 1871) booked a bed and dinner for four shillings and was also charged for the stabling of two horses.
Owen McKenna, owner of the Victoria Hotel in 1889, dropped by for a chat. James Groggan booked a coach fare (account five shillings) and Daniel Twomey (owner of Kolor Station) collected a parcel. On Friday the Day Book records that John Cook dropped by and John Hyde had a drink and borrowed one pound. On Saturday John Hyde was back to borrow another pound, also a William Uebergang used the book but was not given a number so this was probably a “one off” situation. Another to drop by was R. B. Hayhoe of the Victoria Hotel.
In the first week of business forty-one customers used the Day Book to book up accounts - mainly for drinks, parcel collection, coach fares or to borrow money.
The Hotel was much more than just a pub. It was the stopover for Cobb and Co. Coaches, six times a week, between Hamilton and Koroit. Later the Western Stage Company also stopped at the hotel. Horses were stabled for a shilling a night and a horse could be hired for two shillings a day with businesses including Taylor and Wilson, Cruickshank and Waters and Harrower and Daymond using this service. In addition you could hire a man (driver) to show you around the district, for example, on 25 February 1889 Richard Elijah hired horses and a man for one pound six shillings for three days.
Board at the hotel was offered with different rates depending on the room and service. It was noted in the Day Book that David Bird, Dealer from Melbourne paid for his account (fourteen shillings/week) with bad grace. Top rate of twenty five shillings per week was paid by Hugh Sherwin, Engineer.
The Hotel had an attached store which sold oats, yeast, bran straw, chaff, potatoes and tomatoes. You could also hire a buggy for five shillings a day plus stock up with horse feed.
The Tilley's also had a farm as they sold forty sheep to William Coleman, butcher at nine shillings each and a cow to George Cook for four pounds. They also leased a house out for ten shillings a week (this could have been the farm house). Another income stream for the hotel was a billiard room and sending and receiving telegrams.
The Penshurst Hotel was a favorite pub for the landed gentry with the Twomeys - John (Stonefield), Daniel (Kolor), Timothy (Banemore), Edward (Langulac) as customers. The Ritchies of Blackwood and John and Thomas Hutton, Cheviot Hills, also frequented the hotel.
Councillor John Moffat, Chatsworth House visited the hotel, no doubt on council business. William Ross, The Gums used the hotel to stable his horses while in town. He also hired a servant on several occasions for seven shillings.
Dr Woodford was a regular as was Gaston Kemp, State School Master who daily had two drinks. Dr Sweetman only collected parcels as did the Reverands M. Lelean and J. R. Anderson.
The Cricket Reserve Trustees, Race Club and Coursing Club all made use of the different services offered by the hotel. Cobb and Co. driver, C. Byrne booked up a dinner and tea for two shillings. Another coach driver who booked up goods and services was Hector Armstrong.
Snobbery was alive and well as some of the working classes weren't even given their formal names in the Day Book. Workers were simply noted as Old Sutton, Kolor; Alec at Twomeys; Man from Gums; Maxwell, old man (Twomey's gardener) and one customer was written down as Crow Eater.
The most popular drink was whiskey with a bottle costing five shillings, as did gin, rum, wine and sherry. Port wine was five and six, Schnapps six shillings and dearest of all was brandy at six shillings and six pence. A bottle of larger beer cost one and six. Half a dozen small ale bottles cost five and six and half a dozen large ale cost seven and six.
On Tuesday 25 September 1888, Charlie Mibus, farmer, pulled in to collect the drinks for a family celebration (we hope). He purchased two cases of brandy, one case of whiskey, one case of tokay wine, one dozen English ale and a gallon of rum. The total cost was ten pound and eighteen shillings which is a great deal of money considering that Lottie Wilsher, cook, commenced work at the Hotel for fifteen shillings per week - or the equivalent of three bottles of whiskey. Lottie departed after a week. Nellie and Jennie Trotter, waitresses, started at twelve shillings per week on 20 December 1890 - just before the Christmas rush.
At one stage Penshurst had five hotels: The Shearers Arms, Penshurst Hotel, Prince of Wales, the Victoria and the Cricketers Arms. Also close by was the Mount Rouse Inn at Boram Boram, the Halfway Hotel at Purdeet and the Union Hotel at Croxton East (foot of Berridale Hill).
Interesting Items from the Penshurst Hotel Day Book
The Penshurst Hotel Day Book documents the comings and goings of daily life in Penshurst. It records hundreds of names, reveals peoples occupations, the various sporting clubs that existed, and the types of supplies bought in and out of the township. It also provides a glimpse of peoples social lives and the constant movement of people through Penshurst.
A number of interesting items were noted in the Day Book. For example:
* William Tobin, publican, collected a coffin from the coach for twenty shillings.
* Richard Barnes, carpenter, borrowed five pound and one shilling and then another three pounds from Joseph Tilley at the May 1890 Wickliffe races.
* Neil McNeil and Co, who were building the spur line (railway) to the quarry at the back of Mt Rouse, were charged for Mr. Butler's for breakfast, dinner, tea bed and a horse for eleven shillings per day - presumably Mr. Butler (engineer) was managing the project.
* Charlie Salter, mason, boarded at the pub for two years with his offsider Harris. They ran up an account for over 250 pounds which was paid off by contra, which presumably means they undertook building work for the Hotel.
* Charlie Mibus sold the Hotel a ton of potatoes for four pound fifteen shillings, a ton of chaff for three pound, nineteen cattle 38 pounds, oats six shillings and ten pence and fowls eleven shillings.
* When Jim Egan Esq, donkey engine pumper, paid his bill the Tilleys wrote thank God next to the account.
* 30 September 1889 Miss E. M. Archibald commenced work at the Hotel for eight shillings per week.
* Mr Miller, policeman OHMS, 9 June 1890 booked up two flasks of whiskey (paid the next day). Must have been cold work riding around the region.
* 17 October 1890, Neil McNeil & Co. booked up forty pounds worth of drinks and luncheon. (This may have been a celebration of the completion of a section of the railway).
* Chris Milligan eventually paid his account by shearing Tilley's sheep.
* Patrick Kelly, blacksmith paid most of his account by contra work.
The Penshurst Hotel Day Book is a valuable record and is in the archives of the Mt Rouse & District Historical Society. While we have a good pictorial record the Day Book provides a written diary of activity associated with the Penshurst Hotel.
by Phillip Doherty, Mount Rouse & District Historical Society Inc,
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