Campbelltown’s Good Intent Hotel and its connection with Fisher’s ghost

A COACHING INN OF THE EARLY DAYS AT CAMPBELLTOWN NSW - The Australasian (Melbourne, Victoria), Saturday 7 August 1926, page 76.
The Coach and Horses Inn, Queen Street, Campbelltown. Picture: The Australasian, August 7, 1926.
An illustration of Fisher’s ghost. Picture: Brisbane Sunday Times, January 19,1949.

NOW consigned to the pages of history, the Good Intent Hotel, at Campbelltown, in Sydney’s south-west, traded as a pub for less then 50 years. However, the site’s connection to hotel history stretches back a lot longer.

The site was originally home to one of Campbelltown’s earliest pubs, where it was said a local farmer named Farley was drinking prior to him encountering the city’s most famous ghost in 1826.

The body of murdered farmer, Frederick Fisher remained undiscovered in a creek until Farley was returning home from what was then known as Patrick’s Inn and encountered a ghost sitting on the rail at the bridge over Queen Street.

The spectre beckoned to him and pointed back towards his body. According to the legend, it was the ghost that prompted the police search, the uncovering of the grave and eventual hanging of his murderer, William Worrall.

The connection of Patrick’s Inn with Fisher’s ghost is just another version of the many stories that have evolved over the years about the murder.

Patrick’s Inn became known at The Coach and Horses in 1842, and operated as a licensed pub until about 1860 when it was renovated and converted to a school until 1865.

The old inn, together with three acres of land, on the main road, “in a fine elevated central position in the town”, was sold in 1865. The building was described at the time as a two-storey brick built dwelling-house, with verandahs, containing 16 rooms, including a large ball or reception room. There were cellars, store, stabling and coach-house, also a detached cottage of four rooms.

The old pub was used for a number of purposes – including a private residence known as Alpha House – for almost 80 years before the site once again became a pub.

The license of the old Commonwealth Hotel in Campbelltown was removed to the site, and the old historic coaching inn was demolished to make way for a new modern hotel by the name of the Good Intent.

The final approval of the removal of the license was granted on March 3 1939. South Coast Times reported on March 31 1939:

It is expected that the doors of Commonwealth Hotel will close simultaneously with the opening of the new “The Good Intent” Hotel. The Commonwealth Hotel known to old hands as the “Jolly Miller,” has reigned as a public house for 98 years. In 1841 there were (reading from old newspapers) seven hotel in Campbelltown and 38 householders; in 1868 there were 17 public houses in the police district, and these dwindled to 10 in 1870 and 8 in 1871. Today four hotels face Queen st., the Queen’s Arms at Narellan the next nearest.

The Commonwealth Hotel, Campbelltown, 1924. The license of this old pub was removed to the the site of the Coach and Horses in Queen Street. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

The Campbelltown News reported the closing of the Commonwealth Hotel, and the opening of its replacement, the Good Intent, on Friday, March 24, 1939:

Happenings in Campbelltown last Tuesday afternoon were distinctly unique; never before had any of the present generation witnessed here in this old, historic centre, the permanent closing and opening of hotels.

After 98 years of existence the doors of the Commonwealth Hotel were closed as an hotel for good and all time, this ceremony taking place shortly after Mr. J. W. M. Laidlaw, Chairman of the Licences Reduction Board, had approved of an application by Mr. L. W. Kerr to close the hotel, as well as an application by Mr. and Mrs. Kerr to open a new hotel.

Some fifty persons met in the bar of the Commonwealth Hotel and, after enjoying the hospitality of Mr. and Mrs. Kerr in a few rounds “on the house,” sang with feeling “For They Are Jolly Good Fellows” and “Auld Lang Syne.”

Mr. Kerr then closed the bar, and when all had been ushered out in the street he then closed the main entrance door.

Both Mr. and Mrs. Kerr, as well as the staff of the Commonwealth Hotel were noticed to have been visibly affected by this little ceremony.

The party, on arriving at the Good Intent Hotel, which stands on its own grounds adjoining the Campbelltown Town Hall, saw the opening for business of that particularly impressive building, named after one of England’s most historic hotels and chosen by Mrs. Kerr.

Mrs. Kerr, with Mrs. Standing, approached the glass doors leading into the spacious hall of the Good Intent, and with a gold key Mrs. Kerr turned the lock, and amidst cheers Mrs. Standing opened the doors as Mrs. Kerr presented her the key.

“A few on the house” were then served by a special, staff of waiters. It was not until shortly after 7pm that the official opening ceremony took place.

Guests numbered well over 300… Mrs. Standing entered the main lounge for the official opening. Mr. J. W. Kershler, as Master of Ceremonies, briefly mentioned that the Mayor of Campbelltown had sent a telegram late that afternoon expressing his inability to be present; also that the Town Clerk (Mr. F. Sheather) was unable, through family illness, to attend. He then called upon Ald. J. Westbury, who was the previous Mayor of Campbelltown, to officially declare The Good Intent Hotel open.

Ald. Westbury said that the progressive nature of the town was judged by the buildings and appearances of that town, and this magnificent building was distinctly an asset to Campbelltown and an emblem of the move the town was making in the right direction. He congratulated Mr. and Mrs. L. W. Kerr on their enterprise and faith in the old town in erecting the building, and hoped they would be rewarded as they deserved — Mrs. Standing, too, although new to Campbelltown, was not a stranger to the district, being well and favorably known in Camden, and he wished her, on behalf of those present, every success, and hoped she would build up to all that she deserved for her excellent start.

Ald Westbury recalled that over 100 years ago this position was the site of an hotel – Patrick’s Hotel—and really this opening should have been last Friday (St. Patrick’s Day). The present name left one in a bit of a dilemma, whether to have the “Good Intent” going in or coming out!

Following the official opening an opportunity was given the guests to inspect the hotel, and all were greatly impressed.

Good Intent Hotel, Campbelltown 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University. Inset: Publican Aubrey ‘Titus’ Oates. Picture: Supplied.

The popular pub became famous for never running dry during the post war beer shortages of the late 1940s. The publican at the time, Aubrey ‘Titus’ Oates, a former RAAF pilot, flew all over the nation to ensure a steady supply of beer at the Good Intent for his thirsty customers.

The Good Intent Hotel traded on the site until 1982 when it was demolished to make way for Campbelltown’s Queen Street Mall. The Campbelltown Library website states:

The hotel closed its doors for the last time on April 17th, 1982. This was an unpopular decision and many regulars defied the demolition signs on the hotel doors and arrived for their usual drink on the Sunday morning- the day of the demolition. They were eventually coaxed out of the bar by a security guard. It was demolished to make way for Campbelltown Mall.

The Good Intent Hotel, Queen Street, Campbelltown, 1979. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

Alpha House

Alpha House was originally known as Patrick’s Hotel and not long after the Coach and Horses Inn. It was built in 1842 by Anne Byrne and was then owned in the 1840s by Charles Morris who had a mill coaching service.

The building had many uses during its existence. There is evidence that it was once used as a court house and even a gaol. The building was also used for Presbyterian church services by Reverend Gilchrist. It was once known as Hammond’s Grammar School and about 1860 it acted as a School of Arts. It then became well known as the home of local politician John Hurley MLA. Hurley died here in 1882. The Hurley’s continued to live there at least up until the death of John’s wife in 1892. Some time prior to 1930 it was used as a private school run by Miss Whittingham. She boarded upstairs and used a room as a classroom.

The building was wonderfully palatial. It had two storeys at the front and three at the back and eight bedrooms, four sitting rooms, a large ballroom and hall, cellars, detached kitchen and laundry. There was also a coach house and stabling for 16 horses. It was made of brick with its front verandah flagged in sandstone and the slate roof supported by Georgian pillars of wood.

After Miss Whittingham left, the building was used by Daniel Longhurst up until 1938. Demolition of the building commenced on 5th July that year to make way for the new Commonwealth Hotel which was to later become the Good Intent Hotel. Bricks from Alpha House were used in its construction. The Good Intent was demolished in 1982 to build the new Campbelltown Mall which opened in 1984.

– Courtesy of the Campbelltown Library

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Categories: NSW hotels

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1 reply

  1. Just a small point. It was John Hurley’s daughter that lived in the house till she died in 1892 not John Hurley’s wife Mary who died in 1859.

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