Tower Hotel

In July 1866 Thomas Kinsella transferred the license of the Half-way House Hotel to Emanuel King, gentleman of Melbourne.  The hotel appears to have been operating since at least 1865.

King did not last long and by 1869 John Lees was the publican at the hotel.  In the licensing hearings of 1871 Lees found opposition to the renewal of his liquor license.  Mr Hornby, on behalf of several local residents, pressing the claim that with two other hotels operating in Alphington (the Alphington Hotel and the Darebin Bridge Hotel), the area did not warrant a third.  Lees was nevertheless granted his license.

In February the following year Lees advertised for a harness maker.  Apparently Lees was a practicing saddler as well as publican.  Despite this dual occupation, things clearly were not going well for Lees and in August 1874 there was a sale of hotel furniture and goods as well as the tools and trappings of a saddlery business. 

The next publican Charles Churchman came to the attention of the public in a less than favourable way when he was arrested for being drunk and disorderly.   On Monday 25th March 1878 Churchman was arrested when, drunk, he became aggressive and chased his wife across the road to the nearby Alphington Hotel.  At the magistrates court the following Thursday Churchman was accused of ill-treating his wife and using abusive language.  He spent 30 hours in jail and was fined five shillings.

In 1884 the next publican, William Luscombe, found himself on the wrong end of the law when he was charged with serving intoxicating liquor and keeping his bar open on Sunday.  Senior Constable Marks alleged that Luscombe had four people in the bar consuming alcohol in a breach of the law banning the serving of alcohol on Sundays.   Luscombe mounted a defence that the patrons were boni-fide travellers and therefore exempt from the Sunday trading laws.  However with other similar offences also being lodged against his name, Luscombe found little sympathy from the magistrate and was fined £3 for the first offence, £2 for the second and £1 in costs. 

In January 1885 Luscombe found his application to renew his liquor licence was refused by the magistrate.   A stay of a week was granted to allow the hotel owners to find a substitute publican.

Two names were touted as the new publican, Miss Charlotte Smith and Mr R. Peters.  The police objected to both, stating that, as Miss Smith was the step-daughter of Luscombe they would be virtually handing the control of the hotel back to him.   The youth of Miss Smith was also stated a factor in opposing her application.   In the case of Mr Peters the police objection was based around the fact that the area was already serviced by two hotels, that the outside accommodation was in poor condition and that the

“…building was hardly fit for the locality.”

Mr Peters stated that repairs would be completed shortly and the magistrates then granted his application.

As with other hotels in Darebin, the prosecution of publicans for licensing offences were an occupational hazard.  In June 1889 Mrs Peters, now the licensee, was charged after Constable Fraser noted a pair of carriages pull up alongside the hotel and a number of men entering the hotel.   As it was Sunday, this of course was a cardinal sin.  Mrs Peters denied serving them alcohol and no one was seen with a drink in their possession, equally the men in question were Tasmanian footballers and therefore as travellers except from the Sunday trading laws.  Despite this the magistrate fined her £5 for having her front door unlocked!

In 1891 William Frew purchased the old hotel and demolished it, replacing it with the current building.  At first the liquor license was with H. A. Fossett but in 1892 Frew took over the license himself.  The next year Frew transferred the license to Margaret McNamara.

In March 1894 there was an unreserved sale of furniture at the hotel.  Amongst the objects for sale were

“First-class and nearly new drawing, dining and bed room furniture.
Beautiful walnut piano, by Grundt, Berlin
Allcock full-sized best billiard table, overmantels, sewing
Machine, patent mangle, etc.”

Clearly business was not going well.   The following month, Eileen Murphy replaced McNamara as publican.   By December Murphy joined the list of disappearing publicans, replaced by Francis de Cairos Rego. 

In 1897 the newest publican, Anna Sullivan, was granted a wine license for the hotel.  In January 1900 Margaret Glynn transferred the license to Michael John Gleeson. 

Of course it was not always changing publicans and liquor offences.  The hotel played host to athletics competitions and was a popular meeting place for the Carlton Harriers.

In April 1908 the license was transferred from John de Fraga to Lilian Foran.  For some reason Lilian lasted just over a month and the license was transferred to Augustus Quack. 

Over the next few years the hotel continued to change publicans, rarely settling for any long period of time.  Between 1881 and 1909 the hotel had gone through at least 22 publicans.   When added to the several applications by police against the hotel continuing to receive a license it suggests that the hotel had developed a less than savoury reputation. 

In October 1929, John Clayton came to the attention of magistrates, charged with fraud.   It was maintained that a bottle of whisky sold at the hotel was incorrectly labelled.  A fine ensued.

In the same year the license passed from Jane Clayton to a joint ownership of Jane Clayton and Jane Craven.  The next year the license went to Christopher Burke.  Burke, like many of his predecessors, found himself at the Magistrate’s Court, charged with trading outside hours.  More fines.

In 1933 it was publican Isabel Herbert’s turn to face the magistrates with the same offence.  She was given a £3 fine.  However Herbert was to provide the hotel with the stability it had lacked for so often.  She was to remain at the hotel for nearly thirty years, not leaving until the 1960s.

The Tower Hotel was to be the last of the Alphington hotels, the Darebin Bridge Hotel having closed in 1921 and the Alphington Hotel finally closing in the 1980s.  In the early 1980s the hotel was proposed as a private pokies club for the Collingwood Football Club.  The proposal was blocked by a vigorous campaign by local residents. 

In recent years there haves been moves to convert the hotel to apartments, a proposition which was opposed by the City of Yarra Council.

List of known publicans

1865  Thomas Kinsella
1866  Emanuel King
1867  John Lees
1878  Charles Churchman
1878  Captain Gallegan
1881  George Clayton
1882  William Luscombe
1885  R. Brookes Peters
1889  Mrs Elizabeth Peters
1891  Mrs B. R. Fawcett

1892*  G. W. Frew

*  Hotel rebuilt and renamed the Tower Hotel

1893  Mrs McNamara
1894  Mrs W. Murphy
1895  Patrick Allen
1896  P. Sullivan
1898  Margaret Glynn
1900  Michael John Gleeson
1903  Sabrina Norris
1903  Alois W. Leitner
1905  Caroline McGowan
1906  J. J. Chamberlain
1907  John De Fraga
1908  Lilian Foran
1908  Augustus Quak
1908  Elizabeth C. Odgers
1909  Margaret Davoran
1909  Bessie H. Fossitt
1917  Thomas Hegarty
1923  Peter A. Carlsen
1928  Robb. McKinlay
1928  Oscar Bush
1931  Christopher Burke
1932  Mrs M. Miller
1933  Henry Miller
1934  Mrs Isabel Herbert
1945  Mrs L. Herbert
1965  M. Humm
1974  N. Cecil

Cole, Robert K.  Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949.  (Manuscript)
Edge, Gary.  Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels.  Melbourne. Darebin Libraries. 2004.
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956), 14 July 1866
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956), 27 March 1869
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956), 17 October 1871
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956), 12 December 1871
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956), 14 February 1872
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  22 August 1874
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  28 March 1878
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  23 July 1884
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  15 May 1885
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  20 January 1885
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  23 October 1885
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  21 March 1888
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  5 June 1889
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  6 March 1889
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  25 August 1893
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  5 April 1894
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  15 March 1894
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  14 December 1894
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  9 December 1897
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  29 January 1900
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  18 June 1904
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  8 April 1908
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  19 May 1908
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  15 August 1912
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  2 September 1912
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  6 September 1912
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  21 July 1916
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  17 September 1929
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  18 October 1929
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  3 May 1930
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  10 February 1931
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  11 December 1933
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  10 May 1940
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  13 May 1940
The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. 1848-1956),  5 July 1955

The Northcote Leader (Melbourne,Vic. 1888 - ), June 1889
The Northcote Leader (Melbourne, Vic. 1888 - ), April 1988