Alphington Hotel (1861 - late 1980s)

Content Warning: article contains violence

On 17 April 1861 Magistrates Hackett, Phelan and Perry granted Thomas Freeman a license for the Alphington Hotel. In August of that year Richard Hill was accused of stealing a gold chain from the landlady of the hotel, Mary Ann Freeman. The following month Hill was sentenced to three years hard labour. 

The license for the Alphington Hotel was passed to Joseph Foulkes in December 1864. The following June Foulkes was brought before the magistrates after William Fry claimed that Foulkes kicked him after a dispute whilst playing “pitch at the cork” at Dunn’s Hotel, Alphington.  Dunn’s hotel was the Darebin Bridge Hotel. The case was dismissed.

On 22 January 1866 Charles Frederick Foulkes was born at the Alphington Hotel. Tragically he was to die thirteen months later. Then in February 1871 another of Foulkes’s sons, Alfred Edbert died.  On 23 November 1874 the friends of the late Joseph Foulkes were invited to follow his funeral procession from the hotel to the Melbourne General Cemetery.

Abigail Foulkes took over the running of the hotel, and was to maintain the license until 1902, a remarkable run of twenty nine years. In March 1878 Abigail found herself involved with her neighbours, the Churchmans, publicans of the Half-way House Hotel. Charles Churchman, apparently under the influence of drink had abused his wife who fled to the safety of the Alphington. Churchman followed her there where he

“…repeated his disgusting language.”

Churchman was locked up for 36 hours and fined 5s.

In October 1880 Abigail Foulkes found herself back in court when Henry Davis and William Perry were charged with being drunk and disorderly, using foul language and mistreating a horse. Foulkes testified that the men had threatened to damage items of property in the hotel unless served with alcohol. She continued to refuse and the men left and began driving a horse and cart furiously up and down Heidelberg Road. Both men were found guilty and fined.

On 28 August 1882 the Fitzroy Bicycle Club presented a “handsome butter cooler” to Mrs Foulkes for her kind treatment of them during a recent bicycle ride to Alphington.

In November 1888 Abigail found herself on the wrong end of the law for once when she was charged with Sunday trading offences. Two constables, one from Berwick and one from Brighton were instructed to travel to Alphington and to attempt to purchase beer on Sunday. One of the quirks of the law at this time was that travellers were allowed to purchase and consume alcohol but not locals. To be a bona fide traveller you were required to have travelled more that 10 miles and be able to provide evidence to that fact. The two policemen drank at the Grandview, Half-way House and Alphington hotels and in each case noticed what they thought were locals. All three publicans were found guilty and in Mrs Foulkes case was fined £5 7s. 

In October 1889 Mrs Foulkes was required to provide evidence in a court case against W. T. Dix and W. Fitzgerald Moore. The pair were charged in connection with the ‘Round Hills Share Scandal’.  Mrs Foulkes testified that at the time of the supposed offence Mr Dix was in fact at

“…at the Alphington Hotel, that he inquired the way to
the station, and two of the girls opened the gate for
him and saw him leave for the station by the road indicated
to him.”

Abigail Foulkes left the Alphington hotel around 1902 and in March 1903 the new publican John Moylan passed it on to Johannes H. Brasch. The hotel was about to undergone a long period of instability with its publicans as they changed on a regular basis.

In 1905 Arthur Hill became the new publican, only to pass it on to Peter Carlsen only four months later in March 1906. In August 1910 Carlsen was convicted of Sunday trading and fined £2. By November he had moved on and Gertrude T. Pooley had replaced him.

Pooley herself only lasted seven months before Charles E. Senior became the new publican on 19 June 1911. Senior was to meet a tragic end just over a year later. On the 14th August 1912 Mary Senior received a letter from her husband saying that he intended to commit suicide by throwing himself into the sea at Port Melbourne. He stated that he had

“…taken a bottle of chlorodyne and felt the good of it. “

Senior then threw himself into the sea.   Police commenced dragging the area and Senior’s body was recovered from the sea near Albert Park several days later. An inquest determined that Senior committed suicide in a fit of depression after suffering a bout of insomnia.

As administrator of his estate, Mary Senior became the next publican of the Alphington hotel. She remained there for another two years before Elizabeth Swift became the publican on 20 April 1914.

One of the notable features during this constant change in publicans was the number of women who took on the role. After Swift came Ellen Ryan, and towards the end of the 1920s the hotel had Frances Robbie, Ethel Cochrane and Rosetta Horley. It was not uncommon for a publican to last only a few months in the job, perhaps an indication that the hotel was a bit rough.

In July 1930 Lawrence Henry Stewart, the publican at the time, found himself in front of the magistrate for selling alcohol outside hours. In his defence Stewart argued that the committee of the Alphington Football Club had arrived at the hotel to thank him for his support and to ask him to be Club President. The meeting had occurred in the main bar area but no drinks were served. The Magistrate agreed and the charges were dismissed.

In May 1934 Mary Brennan took over the hotel from the Perpetual Executors and Trustees Association and stayed there until 1939 when Francis Robbie took over. Frances Robbie had ran the hotel from 1933-1934 and it is probable that the two were related. Robbie was to remain at the hotel through the early 1940s but by 1945 Michael Smith had taken over.  

Later publicans included J. Payne, C. Gilchrist and A. C. Toussaint. In the mid 1960s Ted Overs took over the license and began purchasing surrounding properties. By 1970 he had acquired nine properties and began a renovation and extension program. The hotel had only two small bars and a small lounge when Overs took over the hotel but by 1971 it had a large drive in bottle shop; an expanded lounge capable of seating 180 people; car parking for 240 cars and a TV and sports bar.

The large car parking and expanded building made the hotel a very attractive proposition for Dan Murphy when he was looking to expand his wine and spirit retailing business in the mid 1980s. In 1985 he purchased the hotel, which was now described as

“…a rather rundown suburban pub”.

Murphy encountered strong opposition to his attempt to purchase the old hotel but nevertheless prevailed and shortly afterwards the hotel was demolished to accommodate his new business.

Dan Murphy continues to operate from the site today.

List of known publicans

1861  Thomas Freeman
1864  Joseph Foulkes
1874?  Abigail Foulkes
1903  John Moylan
1903  Johannes H. Brasch
1905  Arthur W. Hill
1906  Peter A. Carlsen
1910  Gertrude T. Pooley
1911  Charles E. Senior
1912  Mary Senior
1914  Elizabeth Swift
1919  Ellen Ryan
1923  Robbie F. Pearson
1928  Frances Robbie
1928  Ethel M. Cochrane
1929  Rosetta Horley
1929  Lawrence Henry Stewart
1932  Bert Gillies
1933  Frances Robbie
1934  Bridget Mary Brennan
1938  Francis Joseph Robbie
1945  Michael Smith
1953  J. Payne
1960  C. Gilchrist
1963  A. C. Toussaint

Cole, Robert K. Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949. Unpublished manuscript.
Darebin Libraries. Local History File: Hotels.
Edge, Gary(2004). Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne. Darebin Libraries.