Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Richmond Arms Hotel

In September 1827 the Hobart Town Gazette reported that James Kestall Buscombe had obtained ‘an allotment of ground for the purpose of building a commodious inn, in the township of Richmond, which will supply the want of convenience which travelers there and the neighborhood now so much experience.’  By December 1827, it was reported that ‘Buscombe, the innkeeper, is in great forwardness with the materials for his inn, which when once commenced will soon be fit for the accommodation of travelers, &c.’  The pub was called the Lennox Arms (presumably named after Charles Lennox, the Duke of Richmond in the English peerage).

Richmond was the centre of a fertile agricultural area and became a ‘rapidly flourishing township’ from the late 1820s.  The Richmond Bridge was the lowest crossing point on the Coal River and part of the main route from Hobart to the south-east and the east coast.  A proportion of traffic travelling between Hobart and Launceston also passed through Richmond, continuing to Jericho via the Coal River Valley.

In May 1830, Buscombe advertised in the Hobart Town Courier ‘to return his thanks to his friends and the public for the very liberal encouragement he has received since he commenced business’ and announced that his ‘stock of wines, &c. is of greater extent than that of any Inn out of Hobart town, and warranted to be of equal quality, if not superior, to the best selected in the island.’  Buscombe’s pub also incorporated a store that sold groceries, clothing and household goods.  In April 1832, Robert Cooling started operating a ‘cheap and safe conveyance’ from Kangaroo Point (today’s Bellerive) to Richmond and Sorell.  The coach stopped at the Lennox Arms to change horses.

By the late 1830s, Buscombe’s industry had earned him an ‘independent fortune’.  He owned various properties and businesses in Richmond and had built himself ‘Prospect’ (today’s 1384 Richmond Road) a fine two-storey mansion on the outskirts of town.  Buscombe decided to retire from the management of the pub in 1840 and concentrate on his store.

The Lennox Arms was subsequently leased to a series of licensees before being offered for sale in April 1864 when it was described as ‘the oldest-established inn in the district, now let to Mr Thomas Featherstone, with two large stone stables, malt-house, brewery, detached kitchen, wash-house, and every convenience for carrying on an extensive business; together with a large and well-stocked garden.’  It wasn’t sold and the Buscombe family continued to lease the property until it was purchased by the Cascade Brewery for £1,000 in June 1879.

The Lennox Arms was completely destroyed by fire early on the morning of Friday 27 July 1888.  The Mercury lamented the loss of the two-storey brick hotel which had been ‘one of the finest buildings in the township’. The Cascade Brewery arranged for John Rait, architect, to draw up plans for the erection of a new hotel and tenders were invited in November 1888.  The new hotel had 17 rooms and was constructed from stone with a two-storey verandah around the front.  The Launceston Examiner described the new building as ‘a fine structure which is an ornament to the township.’ The present building was erected in 1888 but is located on the site of the first pub to be licensed in Richmond.

The Cascade Brewery leased the hotel to a series of publicans including Alfred Burrell, Albert Jack, Samuel Kerslake and Albert Thornton.  The hotel was a focus for community activity and the local football club, cricket club and rifle club all had their meetings there.  When the Governor (Sir Ernest Clark) visited Richmond in September 1933 he had a luncheon at the Commercial Hotel and in June 1946 it was the venue for a welcome home dinner for returned serviceman.

Following the closure of the Bridge Hotel (today’s 50 Bridge Street, Richmond) in 1975, the Commercial Hotel became Richmond’s only pub and was renamed the Richmond Arms Hotel in 1979.  The Stone outbuilding, which is now the hotel's accommodation is the original stable of the 1827 Lennox Arms Inn which was destroyed by the fire in 1888.

Main Information & Text Source – Australian Heritage Database

Richmond Arms Hotel website - http://www.richmondarmshotel.com.au/

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