In March 1842, a young man with a sense of humour built a hotel near the south corner of what is now Arbury Park. His name was Benjamin Dean and he named his inn The Rural Deanery.
In terms of the people who patronized it, any resemblance to a Deanery was somewhat more than remote. It had been originally established to cater for the passing bullock teamsters who battled their teams traversing the Old Mount Barker Road at the refreshing waters of Cocks Creek (later Cox’s Creek), but it soon became the mecca for a clientele who consisted of a mixed bag of the toughest and most dissolute of early colonists.
The Tiers, as the Mount Lofty Ranges used to be called, provided the hiding place for ex-convicts, run away sailors and ne’er do wells of every kind, many of them dedicated to cattle rustling and extortion. Dean dispensed rum to these characters “in outsize pannikins” and they stayed to carouse until all hours.
Until a few years ago, a depression in the ground adjacent to the Deanery Bridge, which marked the site of the Inn could still be detected. Today, no sign of the depression remains and little of the tiny village of Cox’s Creek that grew around the Inn.
Until about 1855 Cox’s Creek consisted of a cluster of colonial cottages, a Post Office and a tiny school conducted by a Mrs Bruce, the wife of a local orchardist.
When, in 1853, the new coach road through Stirling and Aldgate (the present Mount Barker Road) was completed, Dean’s successor, one Addison, moved his business there, lock, stock and barrel. Most of the village followed, and within 5 years the hotel on the new site became “The Bridgewater Inn”, believed to have been so named after Addison’s home town in Somerset.
In 1859, John Dunn set about building the Bridgewater Mill, the mill with the wheel next door. He had the land around the Inn laid out as a township, taking its name in turn from the Inn. That was the end of the old village of Cox’s Creek.
So, for over 150 years, The Bridgewater Inn has traded on its present site, very much as it is today, as a congenial spot for a tasty lunch, hearty dinner, or a refreshing drink with friends.
– Courtesy bridgewaterinn.com.au
Bridgewater, May 18.
Since the Bridgewater Hotel passed into the hands of its present landlord (Mr. W. B. Orchard) a great many improvements have been effected, and it is now one of the cleanest and most comfortable houses on the road.
The walls of all the rooms have been distempered in a nice warm tint and the ceilings have been whitened, while many needed repairs have also been effected.
The house has also been tastefully furnished throughout, and all of the many rooms which it contains now look inviting to the traveller.
The basement story is devoted to the cooking and general service department, and every convenience is present for the use of the domestics.
On the ground floor, beside the spacious bar and the large lofty and well ventilated dining-room, there are several other well-finished apartments.
The first floor is principally devoted to bedrooms, but in front, opening on to the wide balcony, is a very large room in which once a week the youth of the neighborhood meet to “tread the measures of the mazy dance.”
From the back balcony, which is very high above the ground as it slopes away to the creek, a very extensive view can be gained of the Bail way together with “Dunn’s dam” and the bridge just below it.
Mr. Orchard has spent a great deal of money in his endeavour to ensure the comfort of his visitors, and he therefore deserves to be well patronized.
Although the bustle and business which came with the Railway are now almost forgotten episodes of the past Bridgewater is very far from dead, and our well kept hotel will doubtless have the effect of inducing visitors to test the merit of our lovely climate and beautiful scenery.
– The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser Friday 22 May 1885.
Death of Mrs. H. A. Orchard
Mrs. Hester Ann Orchard, who died at Balmain (New South Wales) recently, was well known in South Australia, where she was born 75 years ago. She married Mr.W. B. Orchard, of Moonta, in 1872.
For several years Mr. Orchard was licensee of the Old Colonist [Norwood, SA] and Bridgewater Hotels. Later the family removed to Sydney, but Mrs. Orchard frequently visited her sister, the late Lady Bice. Her death recalls a shipping disaster of long ago.
Her parents, Mr. and Mrs. W. H. Trewanack, of Norwood, visited her in Sydney, and were returning to Adelaide by the steamer Gambier, which was sunk after a collision with the steamer Easby off Queenscliff.
Mr. and Mrs. Trewanackwere drowned with 21 other passengers. Mrs. T. Hughes, who lives at Hargrave street, Peterhead, a daughter of Mrs. Orchard, accompanied her grandparents on the voyage, and was among those saved. She was a girl of 13 at the time, and occupied a cabin with the stewardess.
When the collision occurred she was placed in a boat and taken ashore. She well remembers having been carried through the streets of Melbourne in her night attire. Mrs. Orchard and the late Lady Bice conducted a private school at Moonta 57 years ago.
– News (Adelaide) Thursday 15 September 1927
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Categories: South Australia Hotels