175 years ago – Retreat Inn

posted in: 175 years ago | 0

Retreat InnThe Retreat Inn was opened in 1840 in the “first” Geelong which is now South Geelong on the Barwon River.  Newspaper reports then referred to North Geelong which is NOT today’s North Geelong but today’s Geelong!  Confused?  Just think this through logically – most new towns were located on a river providing a source of fresh water.  So Geelong was initially created on the Barwon River.  It’s port was actually on the bay which was to the north of Geelong [now South Geelong] and hence was referred to as North Geelong.  North Geelong grew to become the centre of the thriving city, hence it was then called Geelong and not North Geelong.  So if you find a reference to North Geelong in newspapers and local records, be aware that it could mean Geelong and not the North Geelong we know today.  Some important buildings have been referred to in the Geelong Advertiser as being in North Geelong, and the SAME building has been referred to as being in Geelong.  An example of this is the Immigration Depot.  It was always in Geelong and not North Geelong (now, not then!).  But, I digress, albeit with interesting snippets – be prepared for more of these digressions in this 175 years ago series.

The Retreat Inn was located on the south west corner of Fyans Street and Bellerine Street in South Geelong … errrr … Geelong but now South Geelong … understand?

As with many hotels in Geelong / South Geelong / North Geelong [understand?] it had more than one name.  The name change sometimes coincided with a new licensee.  The Retreat Inn / Hotel was also known as the Valley Inn and the Factory Inn / Hotel.

On 30 December 1840 a preliminary meeting was held at the Retreat Inn to form a Cricket Club – this was formed in 1841.  There was no official oval – any large open space would do.  And these were “exhibition” matches held during the 1840s – such as one between the bricklayers and the carpenters of the district.

The photo above is a recent one of the Retreat Inn.  Over the years the Retreat Inn has been extended, renovated, rebuilt and everything in between, however it has continually operated on the same site since 1840 when the first licensee was Joseph GRIFFIN.  Other early licensees included Patrick McKEEVER, William PERREN, James Henry KNIGHT, Francis BALFOUR, James McINNIS, William McGUINNESS and Robert McPHERSON.  The latter had an interesting notation in Geelong Hotels and their Licensees – in 1855 Robert McPHERSON was granted a license with caution to abstain from fiddling and dancing!  How outrageous!

Another digression – the book Geelong Hotels and their Licensees by Bill Morrow and Ian Wynd is just one of hundreds of local books indexed in the Geelong & District database – why not search for your names or places?  It’s free and there are more than 1.89 million entries!

Enough digressing – from the Geelong Advertiser, Saturday 30 January 1841, page 3 …

J GRIFFIN, Geelong Retreat Inn, Is happy to have it in his power to inform the Settlers of this district, that he has secured the services of one of the best FARRIERS in the Colony, so that he can now undertake orders of every description, either in Farriery or general Smith Work ; and he is confident of giving complete satisfaction to all who may honor him with their commands.

Don’t you just love the words and phrases used?

0 Responses

  1. maureentrotter

    Hi Susie

    Congrats on the great start to what is sure to be an interesting series.



    Sent from my iPhone


    • Susie Zada

      Thanks Maureen – I have a bit of a roam around the Addy and I’m sure there are plenty of options coming up. And of course I’ll keep trying to add a bit more on the subject of the article in the Addy – fun! 🙂

  2. kay clarke

    Thanks Suzie – loved all of that about Geelong and its names. I found my John Nixon in the Directories Index and he was a grocer in King Street Ashby in 1866 which I assume was a suburb of Geelong by that time. Can the Directories be viewed at the Historical Society? Regards Kay

    • Susie Zada

      Hi Kay – Ashby is now Geelong West and yes, that’s a suburb or Geelong. There is a great book by Gladys Seaton called ‘The Ashby Story: a history of Geelong West’. It’s out of print but you can regularly find it on 2nd hand book sites and well worth getting if you had family in Ashby / Geelong West. The Geelong Historical Society doesn’t have a “place” – they hold meetings and publish a great journal but they don’t have premises and I’m not the Geelong Historical Society! The Geelong Heritage Centre is in the new Geelong Library & Heritage Centre building but I have no idea if all the directories that we’ve transcribed are available there.

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