Murdoch’s Hotel, Morwell


Murdoch’s Hotel, which once faced Morwell Railway Station in Commercial Road, and backed onto George Street, was a landmark pub for over 75 years before its demolition in 1964. Morwell is a town in the Latrobe Valley area of Gippsland, in South-Eastern Victoria.

Built by local contractor W. Tulloch in 1887, the hotel was completed for William Murdoch in March 1888. Previously William Murdoch had hosted the Cricketers Arms Hotel in Morwell before buying and rebuilding the Morwell Family Hotel.

William Murdoch, who was a large land holder, retired from the hotel in 1890, and died in Melbourne in 1913.

In 1951 Murdoch’s Hotel had 22 bedrooms and three private rooms when it was sold for £98,000. The pub was located between Tarwin Street and Hazelwood Road on Commercial Road and was sold again to Woolworth’s in July 1964. It closed for business on August 29, and was demolished the following month to make way for the Woolworths department store.

Murdochs Hotel Morwell 1897


Murdoch’s Holel is a well-known house, which was built by Mr Murdoch and has always retained the name. The present licensee is Mr Chas. Davey, who has been in Morwell five years, and previous to that kept hotels in Albury and Yea.

The hotel is immediately opposite the railway station, and is a two-story building, with a handsome frontage to the main street. The accommodation is ample and excellent, for the building contains eighteen bedrooms, besides sit-ting rooms and parlors. The commercial room is upstairs, and is well furnish-ed and cosy, and on the prime floor, and adjacent to the bedrooms, is a good sized bathroom.

The verandah on the main street is decorated with tree ferns and from this, overlooking the railway station, a beautiful view is obtained of the famous Baw Baw Mountains, which when snow-capped present a charming picture. The dining room is on the ground floor, and while the traveller is ruminating over his grill his eye is charmed with some handsome landscape painting which have been artistically worked in tin recesses, and makes of the dining hall a handsome room.

The bar is well looked after, and is stocked with choice brands of wines and spirits, flood stables are kept for the convenience of farmers, horses and buggies are also to be hired at the hotel and there is also a large and well-appointed billiard room.

– Melbourne Weekly Times November 20 1897

William Murdoch’s new hotel

Mr. Wm. Murdoch, the well-known proprietor of this hotel, is one of the oldest residents of Morwell, and his interests have been wholly identified with the welfare of the town and district ever since his settlement here. He has always had the greatest faith in the prosperity of the town, and he has ever been foremost in all movements, social and political, that would tend to its advancement, or the promotion of kindly spirit amongst the inhabitants.

That the opinion he thus formed was a sincere one, is evidenced by the amount of capital he has invested in the town and district property, and this very substantial building, completed in thoroughness of detail, deserves especial mention, as we are sure it has no equal in style and finish in Gippsland. This building was commenced in October last by the contractor, Mr. W. Tulloch.

Excellent foundation was provided of brick and cement, backed up with puddled clay in such a manner, as to render any part of it impervious to moisture.

The foundations throughout are 18in of brick work under 9in. walls, and 2ft. under 14in, walls. There is a magnificent, thoroughly dry, and well-ventilated cellar of 25ft. x 15ft., across which to support the parti-walls, is an iron girder firmly bedded on brick piers. In the main building on the ground floor are five grand rooms including the bar, with ceilings 12ft. in height.

In the second story are 11 rooms, all commodious and excellently finished in a manner that will be subsequently referred to. The building is situated i Commercial Road, Morwell, and occupies a space of 67ft., immediately facing the railway station, from which it will be seen to the very best advantage, as soon as the present goods-shed is re-moved. Entrance to the yard is obtained from the front under an archway, and the rooms on the upper story are enabled to occupy the whole front space. The whole of the outside walls is 14in. brick-work. The bricks were made by Mr. Murdoch, on his property on the other side of the line, and are of a good quality.

The front possesses a very nice taking appearance, being red brick neatly tuck-pointed, with cement architraces round all doors and windows, with a balcony in the centre of the building projecting the full width of the footpaths (12ft.,) and supported by iron columns. The corners are also cemented, as also a parapet wall, which is sur-mounted by a circular pedment, bearing the freemasons’ coat of arms, under the date 1887, below which in block cement letters is the word, “Murdoch’s Hotel.” From the ground to the top of the parapet wall is a height of 30ft.

The manner in which the building is decorated, and the balcony frieze work picked out in French grey, reflects great credit on the artistic taste displayed by the proprietor.

There are three doorways on the ground floor, opening into the building, which, with the large double sash windows, relieve the slightest tendency to blankness. Upon the upper floor access is obtained to the balcony (where by the way we hope, shortly and frequently, to hear the local brass band discoursing sweet strains of music, for the enjoyment of the public), by means of a doorway in the centre, on each side of which are four large double sash windows. The whole of these windows on both floors are fitted with venetian blinds, which impart a very effective and pleasing appearance.

The rooms throughout the whole building preset a very airy, well-ventilated, and cheerful look, being all splendidly finished in the highest degree of art. The magnificent centre-pieces, tiled grates, marble mantels on all fire-place, and magnificent chandeliers attracting most attention. On the lower floor is the dining hall, a splendid room, 33 by 17 feet, the lower part being stained a russet color dado fashion. The bar-room is exceedingly well lighted and splendidly fitted. There is a lobby at the entrance, and the bar-room is much more secluded than is the wonted custom, of allowing the passer-by an opportunity of scanning the whole room at a glance. It is quite needless to say that all the appointments, even to electric bells are in the most richerche style. The dining, parlor, and drawing-room suites are all made to order. The chairs are of rosewood, either cretonne or morocco covered. The beds are all spring, and extra thick kapok matrasses, the floors suitably carpeted, &c. In fact, the whole inner appearance bespeaks the most superior accommodation for visitors, which can not be surpassed. Visitors to Morwell cannot be otherwise than struck with the “tout ensemble” presented, and its outward appearance and accommodation is in no way belied in its internal arrangements, which combine the maxi-mum of comfort, with moderate charges, and courteous attention from the enter-prising proprietor. Much credit is due to the contractor, Mr. W. Tulloch for the faithful manner in which the building is completed, and all the details so thoroughly worked out. Not the least share should be allowed to the skilful architect, who designed the building, and the works’ overseer, Mr. Mackay, under whose supervision the whole was carried out.

–  Morwell Advertiser and Weekly Chronicle Saturday 24 March 1888


RICHARD FELIX BARRY HALF a century’s association with Morwell for the greater part in an extremely active capacity, was severed by the death, following a long illness, on May 17th of Mr. Richard F. (“Dick”) Barry at his home in Hoyle St., Morwell, at the age of 73 years. The deceased, the only son of the late Mr. and Mrs. W. K. Barry, was born at Wandong, near Kilmore, and educated at the Christian Brothers’ College, Victoria Parade, Melbourne. He came to Morwell in 1901 with his mother (then widowed) and sisters to take over the conduct of Murdoch’s Hotel. In 1906 he married Miss Aimee Stuart, of Geelong, who pre-deceased him in 1917. During the forty years period of his management of the hotel, the freehold of which had been purchased by him in the early stages, the quality of the ser-vice supplied, and its atmosphere of friendliness made the hotel known far and wide among the travelling public. Ever alert to the requirements of the public and the need to keep pace with the development of the town and dis-trict, he kept abreast of progress with major structural alterations and addi-tions from time to time culminating with plans for extensive building in George St. which was planned to commence this year. In 1940 he retired from the management of the hotel, which is at present being conducted by the lessee, Mr. W. Quinn. Always extremely interested in sport, during his younger days he was actively associated with racing in the Gippsland province, and with the then two existing Morwell race clubs, St. Patrick’s and Morwell, in the former of which he held the office of president. During this period also he devoted much time to local and district football and held executive positions in the Morwell Football Club, of which he never ceased to be an ardent supporter. He was for some time a commissioner of the Waterworks Trust and a member of the Sewerage Authority, also a member of the Town Hall Committee. Yet it will be for none of these things that his memory will be cherished. Rather will it be for his warm hearted friendliness and his love of unobstrusive helping of his fellow men. These were the qualities which will be long remembered after the more mundane things have passed into oblivion. He leaves two sons, Keane and Glen, a daughter, Joyce, pre-deceasing him, and to them and his sisters, Mrs. Stow. Mrs. Bicknell, Mrs. Smith and Mrs. Kennon, who were all at varying times associated with him in the business, the sympathy of a wide circle of friends is extended. Following Requiem Mass at the Sacred Heart Church on Friday morning last, the funeral cortege left for the place of interment at the Melbourne General Cemetery. Mr. J. Bolger was in charge of the funeral arrangements.

– Morwell Advertiser Thursday 25 May 1950


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Categories: Publicans, Victoria hotels

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4 replies

  1. It states the hotel was located between Chapel St and Tarwin Street but if it faced the the railway station as stated, wouldn’t this have be located between Tarwin St and Hazelwood Rd on the site of the old Woolworths Supermarket on Commercial Rd?

    • Thanks Neale. You’re correct… I’ve updated the story. Thanks for the feedback… always appreciated.

    • “There is a magnificent, thoroughly dry, and well-ventilated cellar of 25ft. x 15ft”. In the early 80’s, I worked as a storeman at Woolworths in the ‘lower dock’ area which basically was the basement below the store floor area. Also below was the staff tea room and change room all combined was probably not that much bigger than 25′ x 15′ (7.62m x 4.57m) in area. I wonder if this was the remanence of the old cellar?

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