Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Sherwood Hotel, Tooradin

The Sherwood Hotel, in Tooradin, was near the corner of the South Gippsland Highway and Tooradin Tyabb Road. It was built around 1870 on land owned by Matthew Stevens, who is listed in the Shire of Cranbourne Ratebooks from 1867. An early publican was John Wilson from 1873-1874. The Sherwood Hotel and 258 acres were put up for a mortgagee auction on March 14, 1878. The advertisement (reproduced below) lists the auction on behalf of the late John Strudwick, and it is thought that the Poole family purchased the hotel at this time. George Poole became publican at the Sherwood in December 1888.

The Argus Thursday March 7 1878, page 2.

The Poole brothers, Frederic (1826-1894), George (1827-1909), and Thomas (1837-1906) were early settlers in the Cranbourne area. Frederick was elected to the Cranbourne Road District Board, which became the Shire of Cranboure in 1868, from 1865 to 1872, 1873 to 1874 and 1885 to 1893. He was Shire President in 1887-88. Frederick lived at Triuna, Lyndhurst. Thomas lived at Lang Lang.

George Poole was bootmaker in Cranbourne, in the 1860s. He was elected to the Cranbourne Road District Board in 1866, and remained a Councillor until 1893. He was Shire President on three occasions. George Poole was described as a one of the most forceful personalities in the district and according to Gunson (the author of The Good Country : Cranbourne Shire) he dominated the Cranbourne Council and was very involved in policy making.

We have a first hand report of George and the Sherwood Hotel from a booklet Around Tooradin : the Sportsman's Paradise by Hawkeye. It was published, in serial form, in late 1888 and early 1889 to promote the sale of land around Tooradin. Hawkeye described the journey to Tooradin by train, the fishing, local hospitality. He described the Sherwood Hotel as like an old farm house, with a big dash of liberality and kindliness about it. The front portion is brick, and new weatherboard rooms have just been added. It is built just on the crest of a hill, and is in every respect a most comfortable house to stop at. Hawkeye describes George Poole as a fine specimen of a true Saxon. Big of limb, deep of chest, clear eyed, strong and powerful throughout, he reminds you more of the days when there were giants in the land than of a prosperous publican….. In his early days he visited America and became imbued with a touch of American smartness – with a knowledge of how to be cute and make money. On his return to England he was the first to start a real American bar where the thirsty Britain could obtain any drink from a mint julep to a cocktail. George then decided to try his luck in Australia. Hawkeye goes on to say that in Australia George had settled down quietly and his heart appears to be centered in his farming. George does not like the public house life, he hates drinking and talks of going into the coffee line. "Coffee is the thing", he says, "nothing like coffee, I think I’ll build a coffee palace".

The ground of the Sherwood Hotel had a large stable, a diary and milking shed. The Pooles milked forty cows. George also constructed a race course and bred horses. When the Melbourne Coach refused to stop at his hotel, he built himself a Coach, which met the Cranbourne train and travelled on to Grantville.

We do not know much about Mrs Poole, Hawkeye says she is a most obliging and attentive hostess and that she makes beautiful butter. I had assumed that the obliging Mrs Poole was George's wife, Ann (nee Seymour) whom he married in 1864. They had three children Ann, born 1865, who married William Hardy; Maria, born 1867, who married James Facey and Frederick, born 1870 who married Isabella Kernot. Ann died in 1916, aged 85. Ann had previously been married to Magnus Peterson, who had been born in Sweden. There were two children from this marriage Thomas, b. 1854 and Peter , born 1860. Peter was married to Caroline Kernot, Isabella's sister. You can read more about the Kernot family, here.  Magnus died in 1861.

As I said, I had initially assumed that George Poole's  obliging and attentive hostess  was his wife Ann, however, George had an on-going relationship with Mary Catherine (nee George) the widow of John Legge Strudwicke. Mary had married John Legge Strudwicke in 1871 and had two children Albert (b. 1871) and Louisa (b. 1875) and then John died in 1877.  John had been the owner of the Sherwood Hotel until his death, when the Poole family took it over. Mary's relationship with George Poole produced four children - Kate Poole Strudwicke (b. c. 1881), Richard Poole (b.c. 1882), George Poole Strudwicke (b. 1887) and Amy Poole Strudwicke (b. 1895) (so George was 54 when the first one was born and 68 when the last one was born). I can't find Kate and Richard's birth registration and George and Amy are registered twice, under both Strudwicke and George,  but have no father listed. However, both Kate and Amy have George Poole listed as their father in the Victorian Death Indexes. So the most obliging Mrs Poole referred to by Hawkeye is actually Mary, not Ann. I wonder what Ann thought of this - was she humiliated by George living openly with and having a family with another woman or was she glad to be rid of him and happy to live her own life or was it an amicable split that suited both of them?

The Sherwood Hotel, 1907. The Licensee, whose name is listed over the door, is John Lambell.

George Poole had left the Hotel sometime before 1906 and there were a series of Licensees from 1906 - John Lambell, Robert Porter, James Donohue, David McDonald, Mary Clapperton, Frank Gibbons, Florence Johnson and finally John Hopkins. The Sherwood Hotel was deprived of it's licence on December 31 1917, after a Deprivation Sitting of the Licenses Reduction Board. A amendment to the Liquor Licenses Act of 1906 allowed the Board to systematically reduce the number of Victualler's licences in Victoria, taking into account public convenience and number of other Hotels in the area.

The Sherwood Hotel, 1953

The article reproduced from The Argus Newspaper, has been digitised as part of the National Library of Australian Newspapers Beta project. Around Tooradin : the Sportsman's Paradise by Hawkeye is reproduced in Tooradin : 125 years of Coastal history, compiled by John Wells and the Tooradin Celebrate Together Committee.

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