A potted history of a country pub

It is presumed from the notation on the photo and the signage on the front of the hotel that this photo was taken in 1911 whilst Catherine Phelan was the licensee.

This photo must have been taken between 1887 and 1904 whilst the hotel was under the ownership of the Battye family as when the photo is blown up it can be clearly seen as “Battye’s Shire Hall Hotel”

This photo was taken in approximately 1969 or 1970 by the late Ron Bullock of Great Western and was largely taken to depict the local Golden Gateway Festival parade rather than the hotel itself.

This photo was passed to me by his son Geoff Bullock who resides in Stawell.

The Shire Hall Hotel had its first licenced granted on 19 December 1871 to William Laundry
As researched through various publications and sources the approximate history of the hotel and its owners and licensees is as follows.

1878 the licence transferred to Ellen Laundry – we presume the wife of William and the building was sold to Thos. Hewson.

1880 – Michael O’Brien as publican

1883 – Joseph Jackson as publican

1884 – John T. Donnelly as publican

1886 – E. G. Saunders as publican

1887-1897 – Fisher Battye publican until his death – building owned by T. Hewson until 1891 when purchased by Fisher Battye

1898-1904 – Mary Jane Battye as publican and building owner

As a point of interest there are still descendants of the Battye family around Ararat to the current day.

1905 – Thomas Heenan publican with M.J.Battye as the building owner

1910 – Catherine Phelan as licensee with M.J.Battye still as building owner

Newspaper clippings from The Ararat Advertiser of Saturday February 28th 1914 explain the building as a single storey brick building with a frontage of 53 feet and a depth of 42 ½ feet consisting of 10 rooms of which 3 were available as bedrooms to the public. At this stage it was said that the hotel was very well conducted and frequented by the working class and farmers. There was said to be a large yard and good stabling.

1919 – Charlotte Waters as licensee with M.J.Battye still as building owner

1920 – Marcus A. Sharpley as licensee

1922 – James William O’Malley as licensee

1923 – Lawrence (Larry) Cashin as licensee with Estate of M.J.Battye (Mr. Walter Deans as executor) still the owner of the building

At approximately this time (probably late 1924 or early 1925) the hotel was destroyed by fire. The hotel was rebuilt which forms the basis of the hotel today. At this time there was a laneway running down the west side of the hotel where the Cobb & Co coaches delivered guests and were stabled in the backyard. The original brick garage from this era was demolished after part of it blew down in approximately 2008.

The hotel freehold was sold to Ballarat Brewery Co. with Larry Cashin as licensee until approximately 1957/1958 when Lawrence Cashin Snr, Bridget Cashin and Laurence Cashin Jnr. (Lonny) purchased the freehold from the brewery.

Information up until this time is taken from the book compiled by Judy and Danny Barry in relation to the 150th anniversary of Ararat.

*During this period the hotel received a number of esteemed guests. It has been confirmed that the 3rd President of Ireland – Eamon de Valera stayed at The Shire Hall Hotel during a visit to Australia to raise money for his cause in Ireland. He met with Archbishop Daniel Mannix who anecdotally may well have stayed here at the time this being in mid 1948.

(Information obtained in 2015 from Ann Nugent (nee Cashin) grand-daughter of Lawrence Cashin Snr. and Bridget Cashin and supported by newspaper clippings of the era.)

After the change of freehold ownership in approximately 1957/58

Notes from resident of Ararat until his death in 2015 and former employee of The Shire Hall Hotel Mr. Keith Lewis in February 2013 re past licensees and supported by information from The Victorian Commission of Gambling and Liquor Regulation obtained in 2015.

Lonny Cashin (son of Larry) became the licensee at this time.

The next licensees were Denis and Heather Sullivan who probably may have renovated the hotel and who took over in approximately late 1960’s and ran the hotel until about 1972.

Then Graeme Kissick & wife were the licensees for about two years until the hotel was taken over by…….

The McKinnon family including Alick Archibald, Anne Elizabeth, Donald Neil and William Alick McKinnon who assumed the licence on 24/12/1974 and ran the hotel until…

Joe & Dianne Roberts took over the running of The Shire on 2/4/1980 and afterwards probably then relocated to the Ultima Hotel in NW Victoria.

Bruce Ferris and wife & possibly another couple (also Bruce and his wife) as partners who took over the licence officially on 10/9/1982

From the available records then followed Ern Marsden & family who assumed control on 22/6/1984.

The next publican was then Don Gillies who probably had a gentleman named Joe Clark as a partner and their families were licensed from 26/6/1986 onwards until…

Magdala Nominees were the next licensee and we assume from a list of publicans that this may well have been Geoff Todd. He took control from 18/2/1988 for a short period until…

Dale and Helen Wright officially took over on 10/7/1989 for a couple of years until…

Greg McNeight & family ran the hotel from 18/10/1991 until…

Nano Turner & Malcolm McKenzie-McHarg took over on 18/12/1992 and ran the hotel for some 8 ½ years.

Nano and Anne-Marie Knight then took over the hotel on 5/6/2001 and ran The Shire for another 3 years…

Next in turn came a gentlemen by the name of Cameron Strachan who was the licensee on behalf of his family trust, Lakin Nominees P/L, from the 6/9/2004 and this was Cameron’s first foray in to a hotel after working in the rag trade in Melbourne. At this point in time local identity and builder Andrew (Axe) Eastick was the owner of the building. Cameron went on to run the iconic Rainbow Hotel in David Street, Fitzroy with his brother for a couple of years after he left The Shire and is now a resident in the McKinnon area in Melbourne and no longer in the hotel business.

At this point in time Kerry & Toni Stockwell took over the freehold and licence as of 7/6/2007 arriving from the Barnawartha Hotel on the Murray River which was their first pub and they were only there some 8 or 9 months before they had the misfortune to suffer a fire and relocated shortly after to Ararat.

Shortly after Stocky & Toni took over the hotel the Victorian Government banned smoking in hotels in Victoria. There was a decline in customers initially but after a month or two patronage returned to its normal level.

Initially after they became licensees Toni was doing the cooking for the hotel but after a short period of time they leased the kitchen and Toni returned to teaching at the local Catholic College just up the street from the hotel.

They were also well known from their appearance on the television series “The Biggest Loser” where they both lost a considerable amount of weight and indeed Toni finished as runner up.

After they decided to quit the hotel business in 2011 Toni was still teaching at Marian College and Kerry worked at local manufacturing business AME Systems for some 18 months and is now employed by the government at Corella Place in Ararat.

The current publican, local resident since 1970, Dale Pinniger then assumed the running of the hotel to ensure it stayed open from April 1st 2011 although the records will show that he officially was granted a licence on 8/9/2011 as publican in his own right. At this time the building was still owned by the Stockwell’s until June 2015 when a change of freehold occurred to the current ownership.

This information was compiled by the publican, Dale Pinniger over 3 or 4 years until mid 2015 and is as accurate as we can make it as are the accompanying photo notes.

Should anyone be aware of any inaccuracies or further information which may be of interest please let us know.