Posted on Friday, 7th August 2020 by Janine Rizzetti
From the 1860s on, if you were looking for a drink in Heidelberg, you had two choices: the Old England Hotel or the Sir Henry Barkly Hotel.
The first Sir Henry Barkly Hotel was built c. 1856-9. It was named for Sir Henry Barkly, the 2nd Governor of Victoria between 1856-1863, as were other Sir Henry Barkly Hotels along the river bank in Richmond, Westgarth St Fitzroy, Woodstock and in Ballarat.
Located on the corner of Cape St and Burgundy St as it still is today, the original building was a single story brick building, with a verandah on both sides and a lantern hanging outside the front door. There appears to be a dwelling attached on the Cape Street side. By 1877 it had 8 rooms, exclusive of those required for the family.
The Dawson family took up the licence in 1886 and four generations of the family were associated with the hotel over the next century.
In Dec 1888 there was a call for tenders to complete “additions” to the hotel. These “additions” were extensive, as it seems that the hotel was entirely reconstructed during 1889 into the building we know today (and shown here in this picture).
Especially before the construction of the Recreation Hall in 1892 (present day Banksia Palliative Care), the hotels were the social centre of the town. The Heidelberg Road Trust, the Victorian Agricultural Society and the Heidelberg Racing Club all held meetings there. Coroners inquests were held at the hotel, and in 1899 the Heidelberg Court sat there while waiting for the new Court House to be completed. As with the Old England Hotel, it was a popular meeting place for hunting clubs, with a deer hunt setting off from there in October 1868 and the Burwood Hounds meeting there in 1894. Large dinners, political meetings and shareholder meetings were conducted in the hotel, and many meetings were held in the Lodge Room attached to the hotel.
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