At 10 o’clock on December 31, 1968, one of Ballarat’s most famed hotels served its customers a drink for the last time.
The Carriers Arms, an imposing three-storey brick building with a prominent gabled tower, relinquished its licence on January 1, 1969, after 112 years quenching the thirst of its Ballarat patrons.
The licensee Don Sanotti, who had been running the hotel since 1964, told The Courier at the time the owner had decided keeping the hotel open was not worthwhile.
‘Miss Alice Ford of Chisholm Street’ was the owner. The soon-to-be abolished Victorian Licensing Court had stipulated Miss Ford needed to meet certain conditions, among which were supplying hot and cold water, the laying of carpet and the provision of indoor toilets.
Fifty years later, the hotel is little changed inside. Now occupied by Richard Start Accountants, the coat of white paint that obscured the delicate tuck-pointing on the brickwork has been removed; there are still outside toilets; and the stables still stand at the rear, complete with hay storage upstairs.
The northern wall still bears the name of the hotel and proclaims ‘Melbourne Bitter’ to incoming traffic on Creswick Road.
But to quote Shelley: “Nothing beside remains.” Where once the mighty Barley Sheaf Brewery stood alongside, a car yard offers its wares.
In fact, The Carrier’s Arms was just one of many beautiful buildings which lined Creswick Road, now long demolished in the 1960s’ craze for redevelopment.
The hotel had been in the same family hands since 1856, according to The Courier, having been originally built by Ms Ford’s great, great, great grandfather Thomas Whateley, who had emigrated from Birmingham.
A miner who struck gold, he brought his parents and grandparents to Australia and decided to build a hotel as security. However disaster struck when his partner in the venture James Byles took off with the hotel’s funds and left Whateley with debts.
Unfazed, Whateley sold his successful mining claim and cleared the money he owed. He placed his parents in control of the Carrier’s Arms and took off to Ararat, where he once again, perhaps deservedly, struck a fortune. He bought land at Blowhard, while the hotel passed down through the family to the 1960s.
In 1882 an unfortunate incident took place in the dining room of the establishment when Andrew Harper, a local, choked to death on a piece of meat.
The hotel still bears the painted sign advertising the Barley Sheaf Brewery, which was located next door. Founded by Henry Leggo and his brother-in-law John Murton, and later with his sons Joseph and Charles in 1857, it was a major building at 19 Creswick Road until its destruction by fire in the 1950s.
The brewery operated from the late 1850 until the mid-1890s when it was purchased by the rival operators Magill & Coghlan and Tulloch & McLaren to form the Ballarat Brewing company.
Charles Leggo was killed when he was struck by a horse-drawn tram in 1891. His brother Joseph died in 1895, and was eulogised in The Age:
“Mr. Joseph Leggo, of the firm of Messrs.Leggo and Sons, brewers, of the Creswick Road, died to-day. Deceased, who had been ailing for a month, was 40 years of age, and was the eldest son of Mr. Henry Leggo, ex-mayor of the city.
“He was well known in sporting circles, and was for a long while connected with the Ballarat City Fire Brigade, of which he had been captain and treasurer. Of late years, however, Mr. Leggo, who leaves a widow and three children, developed obesity, and prior to taking to his bed he turned the scale at 26 st.
“With the view of reducing corpulency he indulged until a few weeks ago in exercise on a bicycle, which was of special manufacture, in order to sustain his great weight. Death was caused by lung complaint, brought on by a chill. Mr. Leggo was widely esteemed.”
Henry Leggo died in 1899.
The Courier would like to thank Mr Richard Start for allowing access to the Carriers Arms Hotel.
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