Friday, 22 November 2019

Mornington Hotel at Narre Warren

In 1855, Thomas and Eliza Walton took up land at Narre Warren - 414 acres. Fountain Gate Shopping Centre now occupies some of this land. The Waltons built the Holly Green homestead and occupied the land until 1868, when they moved onto 1,500 acres on the  Tarago River, however they still owned the property and leased it out. Around 1881, Sidney Webb purchased Holly Green. You can read more about Sidney Webb and his contribution to the development of Narre Warren, here.

In the book Early Days of  Berwick they mention a Hotel on Walton's land - At Narre Warren, also in Mr Walton's time, there was the old Mornington Hotel kept by Mr J. Gardiner on the corner of the Highway and North Narre Warren Roads. It was later kept by Mr John Payne but eventually dismantled by the late Mr Webb who afterwards owned the property for many years. The  site of the old hotel is marked by the present Narre Warren Fallen Soldier's Memorial Arch (1)

So, what do we know about the Mornington Hotel? Not very much at all. The Shire of Berwick Rate Books are missing up to 1874; the 1875 and 1876 ones are a  bit patchy, but we do find John Payne in the 1877/1878 Rate Books, listed as 'House & Land' at Narre Warren. He doesn't appear again until 1879/1880, then he is listed again in 1880/1881. In the 1881/1882 Rate Books he is listed  as a Publican. He does not appear in the Rate books again, so I presume this is the time the Hotel closed.

Entry from the Shire of Berwick Rate Books, 1881/1882 - showing John Payne's listing in Narre Warren and his occupation as Publican.

There was a John Payne, a publican who died October 14, 1903, he was from Collingwood. A John  Payne had the Wheatsheaf Hotel in Brunswick Street in the 1880s and later the National Hotel in Victoria Street. Is this the same John Payne who operated the Mornington Hotel? I cannot tell you. As for the other licensee, J. Gardiner, I have no information about him. Is he connected to Captain Robert Gardiner, early Berwick landowner? That is another thing I do not know.

If you have any information about the Hotel, Mr Gardiner or Mr Payne, I would love to hear from you.

(1)  Early Days of Berwick and its surrounding districts, compiled by Norman E. Beaumont, James F. Curran and R.H. Hughes (3rd edition published by Rotary, 1979), p. 8. The book was originally published in 1948.

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