Star Hotel

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The Star Hotel was located in Main Road, Ballarat East. It was known as the headquarters of the moral force followers of the Ballarat Reform League. Charles Ross died there after the Eureka Stockade battle. The hotel burnt down in 1861.

The Eureka Stockade Anniversary
The following letter signed James Oddie appeared in Wednesday's Ballarat Star " in reference to the fight at the Eureka Stockade: — Sir, — This is the 48th anniversary of the massacre of the innocent diggers within and without the [Eureka Stockade]. My store was in proximity — so near that the first volley woke me up, when speedily I passed out to the front with my wife, and then saw how matters stood. The mounted police held a position at the south-west corner, and were in considerable numbers. The light was not sufficient to enable us to see the work going on inside. Meantime a crowd of people from their tents gathered on the apex of of Stockyard Hill to learn what was going on, when two of the mounted police were detached, and galloped a couple of hundred yards into their midst, and we could see their sabres glistening in the sun when taking their overhead strokes, cutting the people down. How many perished I cannot tell, but there must have been a considerable number. The whole work was soon over, aud between 5 and 6 o'clock I went over to the stockade and counted 22 dead bodies. Many of them were roasted like pigs at the Chinese Camp. In the attack the tents had been fired, and the poor fellows had, when wounded, fled there for shelter and so ended their fate. I saw the body of the German ginger beer man covered with bayonet wounds, and a person who counted them said they numbered 17. The sight was sickening, and I did not remain long. Meantime the attacking party departed taking with them their dead and 60 prisoners, as reported afterwards. The number reported killed in Withers' History is from 30 to 40, but many were mutilated in addition, and occasionally one may be seen now without an arm, a fine, tall respectable fellow, having weathered the battle of life minus his arm. Of Captain Ross it is said — and I have upon absolute authority— that when the attacking force entered the stockade he threw up his arms in token of surrender, when a rifle was raised and a bullet put through his chest and I saw him carried past my store on improvised stretcher to the Star Hotel, Main road, where he died next day. Captain Wise was wounded, and died two days after ; while another officer was wounded and three soldiers met their deaths. Although the writer was not mixed up in any way with the aggressive party, I came in for a share of risks, and from both sides. On the evening of Saturday, at 10-30, I was in the act of retiring for the night, when the sound of horses' feet was heard pas sing in the direction of the stable, and moving to a door leading from the store into it, I found two mounted men and horses filling the en trance opening. The men instantly demanded horse feed for the Commissary Department. Demanding an order from Mr Lalor, I was instantly covered by a brace of revolvers. Still declining, an outburst of curses followed, which were exhausted now and again and quickly renewed at a short interval. The refusal was reiterated, and this was kept up for 40 minutes the faces of the patriots giving evidence of strong internal emotions, now contracting and then relaxing. The strain was tremendous, and the eye of the writer was steadily fixed on the objectives, and was not sorry to see the horses backed out of the opening, and no more heard the visitors. At the inception of the interview my wife took up her stand at my side, tried to speak, but failed to articulate a word, and so to the end. After the burning of Bentley's hotel and the arrest of three of the participators in this work, the authorities be came very pronounced in their administration of the law, and in this came a small share to my lot. On a clear sunny day in November, being behind the store counter, a small man walked in and asked for a nobbler of brandy, and on my re plying in the negative, " Don't sell brandy, " he reiterated his application, holding between his thumb and first finger a shilling, and saying, "It is all right." Still refused, the third request was made and refused, when Mr George Lilley, auctioneer, Humffray street, broke in and said, "You are come to the wrong place this time," and simultaneously a mounted trooper in uniform rode his horse into the opening of the store to see his friend drinking his brandy. Thus it came about that the writer was privileged by having been offered money by the police to violate the law. Volumes could be written of facts and incidents of every day occurrence, novel and unique, which in years to come might be of value to the historian, but enough. The next anniversary will be a suitable time to pre pare for the jubilee a " Guild of Eureka Stockade Massacre," with a permanent committee and officers.[1]

Post 1854

The Star on 11 September 1856 published a report of the dissolution between William McCrea, Simeon Davey and William Irwin of the Star Hotel, Main Road. The partnership was dissolved on 23 August 1856 and Mr Irwin was to carry on the business of the Star Hotel. [2]

The People

Simeon Davey

William Irwin

William McCrea

George Moreland received a license for Star Hotel. Main Road on 1863.[3]

James Oddie

Charles Ross

In the News

Panning for Alluvial Gold
GREAT FLOOD AT BALLARAT. - On Saturday night we were again visited with a thunderstorm of greater, magnitude, and of longer duration than that of the two preceding evenings. The thunder was loud and long continued. The rain came down in torrents, and the bed of every creek soon became a foaming torrent. The roads and streets in the lower parts were literally torn to pieces, and at half-past 10 o'clock it was apparent that the maui road would be deluged. The rush of water at Rodier's Creek was very, strong, arid the little gully was quite unable to withstand the shock, for boards and sticks, sand and sludge, and debris of every description choked up its mouth. Onward came the waters tearing up the planks on the footway, and in a few minutes the ground floor of the Star Hotel (where there were several persons playing bagatelle and attending a concert) was several feet under water. The inhabitants of the Main-road closed their stores against the invader, and in many instances bolsters and bedticks were used to keep out the foe. The people attending the Charlie Napier Theatre, on coming into the street, at the terminatian of the performance, found (those of them who wished to reach the township) that their retreat had been cut off, -\and many of them with philosophic determination waded knee deep through the water. By 12 o'clock the street from the Hermists Cave to Tuxen and Co.'s store was completely under water to the extent of three feet, and near the Duchess of Kent Hotel it was more. The footwalks on either side of the road were also impassable, and a knowing 'jarvie' wishing to make a 'penny' by the event, carried hundreds of persons backwards and forwards all night for the modest charge of sixpence - each. From 12 till 2 o'clock in the morning the water had reached its highest point. The Main-road people were all busy baling out water, removing their property, and adopting such means as the exigencies of the case required, and many, of them remained up all night. .The principal sufferers by tie flood are— Mr. Irwin, of the Star Hotel, who had about £70 worth of pigs nearly drowned; Mr. Bird, of the Royal Mail Hotel; the Alpaca Store, opposite, the Duchess of Kent Hotel; Mr. Emery of the Shakespeare Hotel; the Duchess of Kent Hotel, where the water got into the cellar, and the barrels, containing ales, &e., floated about; Mr. Cashmore's establishment was also flooded, and all the shops from the Duchess of Kent to the Star Hotel, with, a few exceptions. The Charlie escaped this time, owing to the forethought of Mr. Gibbs, who anticipated something of the kind during the week, and had a mini employed for several days erecting an embankment to keep out the water. Several curious incidents took place, and in two instances some 'groggy' individuals who attempted to cross the waters, missed their footing, and one of them was seen floundering in the channel. On Sunday morning, at an early hour, large numbers of persons were busy at work clearing the sludge out of their premises, and from off the footway before their doors. In the Duchess of Kent hotel there was an alluvial deposit about six inches in depth, and in fact it was the same in every place the water found access to. The Main-road itself was covered over with a coating of from six inches to a foot of sludge, and the water channels and gratings were completely choked. The old houses opposite to the Duchess of Kent hotel were half covered with water, and presented the appearance of a dismasted ship at sea. It has been said that 'Nero fiddled whilst Rome was burning,' and day after day we hear something or other about the sludge channel, or deputations, or communications to the Government on the subject, and the public have been as often assured that the thing would be done at once, and that in a few months at least the water channel would be cut, but now unless the new Government does something, we find that only a few preliminary steps have been taken in the matter, as if to lull the voice of the public on the subject. It is true that a few months ago the road engineer had the bridge of Rodier's Creek raised a little, but the planks on the footway were allowed to retain their old level, and the work at best was but a makeshift; the people on the Main-road declare that now when the water flows over the culvert it cannot find an out let, and consequently it must remain as an ornament on the principal thoroughfare of Ballaarat. We have no doubt, now that the floods are over, and the fine weather setting in, but that the Government will get the work done at once, especially as the summer months are upon us, when floods are of rather rare occurrence. We have not heard the_value of the amount of property destroyed, but it must have been very great. — Star.[4]

FIRE IN THE MAIN ROAD. - Soon after five o'clock on Saturday morning a fire broke out on the premises of the Star Hotel, and in the course of thirty or forty minutes the hotel - so often scorched by other Main road conflagrations - and most of the outbuildings, together with the adjoining; premises on the east side, were burnt to the ground, with most, of the property they contained. It appears that the fire broke out in No. 2 bedroom belonging to the hotel, the room being of wood, - like all the premise destroyed - and situated on the ground floor at the rear of the premises, occupied by Messrs Binney and Broadbent, the carriers, who rented a frontage from Mr Irwin, the proprietor of the hotel. We are informed that two persons had gone to bed drunk in the room where the fire broke out, and that the discovery of the fire was first made by the occupants of bed room No. 3. These allegtions are pregnant with serious suggestiveness.
The fire bell of the Eastern Brigade tolled out the alarm early, and the engine and apparatus of the Brigade were rapidly on the spot, followed about fifteen minutes after by the engine and apparatus of the Western Brigade. Before either body of firemen, however, could reach the spot, the fire had got hold of the whole mass of frail buildings contiguous to the source of the conflagration, and it became evident that all that could done was to confine the ruin to the hotel and the premises between it, and the store of Messrs Tuxen & Co. Fortunately there was no wind, and the burning places were bounded on one side by the brick walls of Messrs Tuxen and Co.'s store, and on the other by the sludge channel, a small wooden shop and the brick walls of Mr Rowe's store. This being the case it was pretty clear that with vigilance the disaster might be confined within the limits described. And this was done. With their usual hardihood the firemen buckled to, got on the tops of the buildings abutting on the burning premises, and by throwing ceaseless jets of water upon the, as yet, uncaught houses, pulling down the burning fragments of the hotel, and pouring what spare water ass available upon the glowing mass between, succeeded in preventing the fire from spreading beyond the premises originally ignited. The fire, albeit there was no wind, ate up the buildings within its reach with fearful rapidity. The alarm was no sooner heard then the flames had mastered the bedroom where they began, and had got hold of the kitchen at the rear of Mr Mather's shop, the back premises of Messrs Tuxen & Co., and the back part of the storeroom occupied by Messrs Binney and Broadbent, and which contained packages of luggage of diverse sorts.
In the meantime the flames crossed the narrow right of way separating the bedroom from the hotel, and the large mass of woodwork composing the well known hostelry, the famous old concert room and the new bar, soon became a mass of fire. Mr Irwin had no time to save any-thing scarcely, losing cash and papers, as well as the greater part of everything else the premises contained. We regret to say that his anxiety to rescue some of his property, Mr Irwin got severely burnt, while his servants for the most part also lost everything they possessed. Mr Carrick, who occupied a portion of the hotel as a boot shop, on the side most remote from the fire, managed to save nearly all his valuable stock. Luckily the stables at the rear, containing a large number of coach horses belonging to Mr O'Connor, beside other horses stabled there, were cut off from the burning premises by a wide yard, and there being no wind, they all escaped. The shop between the hotel and Mr Rowe's store, belonging to Mr Rowe. and occupied by Mr Koppers, a hairdresser, was uninjured by the fire, but was partially destroyed by order of Mr Rodier and another gentleman, but before the work of pulling down was completed it was seen that the danger over the fire spreading in that direction was over. On the other side the work of destruction was fiercer and more complete. A valuable new coach belonging to Mr O'Connor, of the Smythesdale line, and standing in the hotel yard, was destroyed. The whole of the premises occupied by Messrs Binney & Broadbent and all the contents were destroyed, no person residing there.
Mr Mather's place was also soon in ashes the occupants saving but about half their property, a little pet dog being burnt among the things lost. The wooden outhouses in the rear of Messrs Tuxen & Co., with stores, kitchen utensils, bath room, &c, were destroyed, the windows of the brick store were burnt and considerable damage done to the goods in the store by the torrents of water poured upon the roof and sides of the building to prevent its ignition. By six o'clock the ruin was completed , and the brigades had nothing but heaps of smouldering embers to play upon, which they did with patient care till all danger was past. The following is the list of premises destroyed, with what particulars as to losses and insurance we could collect:
Mr Irwin-Star Hotel, concert room, boot shop, outhouses, and stock, including 50 stand of arms belonging to the Government, for the use of the Rifle Corps. Estimated loss, £1500; insured for £500 in the Victoria Company. Mr Irwin had previously been insured for £1500, but the rate of premium being raised he bad insured for a smaller amount.
Mr O'Connor, coach proprietor-Loss estimated at £130, a stud of horses being fortunately saved.
Messrs Binney & Broadbent, carriers Loss of goods estimated at £300. Mr Irwin owner of premises.
Mr Mather, tin worker-Loss estimated at near £100. Mr Taylor owner; uninsured loss about the same.
Messrs Tuxen & Co.-Insured in the Northern Company. Loss in outhouses at the rear about £60 or £70, and in goods and store about £100.
Mr Rowe-Injury to shop occupied by Koppers about £8 or £10.
In the above list we do not include the losses sustained by the servants or lodgers in the hotel, but, as we have already stated, some of the hotel people lost their all, one young woman alone losing £35 in money.
A drunken groom in Mr O'Connor's employ was given in charge for theft at the fire, and will be brought up at the Eastern Police Court to-day.
We regret to repeat that grave suspicions exist that the destruction of property by this fire is also due to the most criminal and drunken carelessness on the part of some of the employees about the premises where the fire originated. But we will not forstall inquiry that will be made, no doubt, under the direction of the Coroner. Mr Irwin had only returned on the previous evening from burying the remains of the late Miss Spiden at Smythesdale, and we hear it was his intention to give a benefit for her survivors at the concert room so long known in Ballarat as a place of entertainment, but which has at last gone the way of so many similar places of resort in the Main Road. The projected benefit is therefore impracticable, but the elasticity of business energy was seen in connection with this the latest disaster as in former scenes of a similar description in the all-enduring Main Road, for, before the day was over, a Star bar was opened where the barber's shop had been, and sympathising nobblerisers flocked to host Irwin's counter as soon as the improvised place of business was ready.[5]

Also See

Ballarat Reform League

Ballarat Reform League Inc. Ballarat Monuments

J.B. Humffray

Charles Ross

Further Reading

Townsend. Helen, Above the Starry Frame, Macmillan, Sydney, 2007.


  1. Mount Alexander Mail, 05 December 1902.
  2. Ballarat Star, 11 September 1856.
  3. Ballarat Star, 18 June 1863.
  4. South Australian Weekly Chronicle, 12 November 1859.
  5. The Star, 03 June 186