The Royal Hotel, Richmond, 1933. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University
The Royal Hotel at Richmond was built in 1864, and licensed in 1865. William Reid called for tenders to build his two storey brick inn at the corner of Windsor and Market Streets in February 1864. The following story was published in the Windsor and Richmond Gazette on Wednesday 25 September 1957 to celebrate the completion of major renovations to the Royal Hotel. The author was MacLeod Morgan, who was Honorary Treasurer of the Royal Australian Historical Society, and a member of the Hawkesbury Historical Society.
The inn of yesterday is the Royal Hotel of today
Result of a century of development
Looming in modern elegance above the main traffic way of present-day Richmond, the Royal Hotel represents the summation of a century’s development since the first small inn at that spot offered rest and comfort to the appreciative traveller.
Just on a hundred years ago, a young woman journeying towards the mountains described Richmond Common as a peculiarly level tract of land, dotted by the native apple tree. Of the town on its western side, she wrote: “—nor is there that dust and decay which disfigures most of our inland townships.” Richmond today still retains much of that charm and attraction which inspired the title “the loveliest village” to be once applied to it. Going still further back to Thursday, 6th December, 1810, Lachlan Macquarie wrote: “—I have named Richmond from its beautiful situation and as corresponding with that of its district . . . After dinner I christened the new townships, drinking a bumper to ‘the success of each”. Having adopted the name first bestowed by Governor Phillip in 1788, Macquarie leaves one somewhat in doubt as to whether one bumper covered the five towns, or a good excuse had arisen to drink five bumpers, one in respect of each of the five Macquarie towns named on that historic occasion! 10th January, 1811: “— we next proceeded to that of Richmond; and having again minutely examined the ground there, the site of the church, school-house and burying ground were marked out by strong posts put in the ground by the Surveyor, to define more clearly their respective limits. The great square in the centre of the township and he principal streets were also marked out in the same manner by the Surveyor.” Thus was laid a seed that was to flourish ever many generations, and at the north-eastern corner of that “great square” was to become established a house rendering service to the travelling public and residents through decades to follow. An inn as “a welcome sight to man and beast” had a definite meaning in Australia’s economy prior to the advent of the railway, and, latterly, the motor car. Our entire early transport system revolved around the horse, in harness or saddled, the bullock team, or one’s own efforts on foot, as a means of getting from place to place, with the inns as staging points to make necessary journeys possible.
STARTING LINE FOR RACES
In paying tribute to the progress of the “Royal” we should look back to the “Black Horse Prince,” probably Richmond’s first inn. Licensed from 1819, it was the, famous “honeymoon hotel” of last century; Paul Randall’s house was to flourish just over 100 years, until its licence went to Kurrajong Heights. Here, at the sign of the “Black Horse,” was the finishing line for the horse races down Windsor Street, the starting line being near the “Royal.”
In his ‘Inns of Australia’, Paul McGuire said: “The Royal Hotel at Richmond across from the village green still has something of an air with its high pillared colonnade supporting a fine balcony. We could find no one in the place who knew its history when we passed, but its architect had learned from the work of Macquarie’s day.
Richmond has now four hotels; there were eight in 1837, several kept by men whose names are still remembered: Randall’s Black Horse, Thomas Eather’s Union Inn, young John Town’s Woolpack at North Richmond, and old John’s George the Fourth, Robert Aull’s General Darling, Thomas Mortimer’s Plough, Christopher Moniz’s Welcome Inn, Tom Parnell’s Packhorse at the ferry. And once there was a Bow and Error: kept by George Bowman, patriarch of the political family. By today’s boundaries, some of the foregoing inns would not be regarded as being within the town of Richmond — actually, the General Darling was at Upper Richmond, or Yarramundi. Thus, it will be seen that the number of hotels in Richmond, once established, has not varied greatly.
Samuel Boughton, an early Richmond identity, wrote of the block extending from the corner of Windsor and East Market Streets, opposite the park: “It was not until ’64 that the portion fronting Windsor-street was used for building purposes. It was in that year the Royal Hotel was built; later on Walton Cottage; and still later the two cottages now occupied by Mr. E. Campbell and Mr. E. Woodhill re spectively. Before, they were built the land was used for various purposes. Notably, the Wesleyan Sunday-school children held their annual picnic there; and it was at those picnics we played ‘kiss-in-the-ring’ — Well, ‘drop – the – handkerchief’— it’s all the same.” (The date of Sam’s reminiscences was about 1902.)
NSW Lands Department plans seem to bear out the date given above as to when the “Royal” was built, and Mitchell Library records show that the land was owned, as early as 1819, by “Mr Cox”. This was, with little doubt, Lieut. William Cox of “Clarendon,” the Blue Mountain road builder, but he may have held it only in trust.
Governor Macquarie directed the early settlers of the lowlands to move up out of the flood channel of the Hawkesbury, and settle in his recently established town at the west end of Ham Common. This land he was able to make available for such purposes, because he had given alternative grants to those who had previously owned it.
William Cox, as the local magistrate and J.P., was entrusted with the task of arranging the allocation of the town lands, which had been split up into sections and lots, and the period of transition took, of course, a number of years. William Sims Bell (brother of Archibald of “the line of road”) appears as the subsequent owner, but in the early 1840s, during the time of bank closures, he got into financial difficulties, and transferred it to Archibald Little and Edward Knox for settlement of debts.
In November, 1845, they sold it for the sum of £5 (the block was actually nearly 3 acres in area and extended back to Francis St.!) to Charles Sheppard Whittaker, of Windsor.
Down the corridor of the years, the following have been successive licensees of the “Royal Hotel”:
1865: William Reid
1873: A. C. Cornwell
1874: A. E. Cornwell
1875: John Gough
1880: W. Reid
1885: Alfred Petterson
1886: Charles Hones
1887: Edwin E. Burne
1888: William H. Johnson
1895: George Bush
1902: Carl. F. Riemenschneider
1903: Richard H. Carter
1904: Alfred S. Broster
1905: Thomas A. Broughton
1906: Neil McKaig
1907: George F. Kelly
1911: Patrick J. Saunders
1912: Henry Colless
1914. Phillip Henry Skelton
1915: James Duft
1919: George Clark
1920: Michael Walsh (father James Walsh)
1945: Francis Samuel White, Thomas Mallett
1946: Hilton Matthew Curran
1947: Dudley John Hassall
1948: James Joseph Walsh
1974: Stanley and Maria Karantoni
* This list has been altered from the original story to include latter licensees.
There is little doubt that historic hands have grasped the bannisters of the “Royal’s” steep but fascinating stairway, and the horses and coaches of many a distinguished guest harboured in the yards and outbuildings at its rear.
Whilst the “Royal” now has a new look, the story of nearly a century still pervades its corridors and older sections, and the present owner has been mindful of our yesterdays, preserving for posterity in detailed photographs the slender pillared front which it presented to our fathers, and their grandparents before them.
Veteran no doubt the “Royal” is, in goodly company with other inns which played their part in the history and development of this one of Macquarie’s five Hawkesbury towns — indeed, it is the survivor of them all in “the loveliest village,” and its past record is a pointer to a great future.
“Whoe’er has travelled life’s dull round, Where’er his stages may have been, May sigh to think he still has found, The warmest welcome at an Inn.” (Shenstone).
The Royal as it stands today—an imposing hotel, dedicated to the finest traditions of hotel-keeping by Licensee Jim Walsh [pictured above in the pub’s bottle shop], whose father, Michael Walsh, acquired the licence in 1920, when the enviable reputation of the Royal for good service has steadily mounted through the years.
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Categories: NSW hotels
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