The Bachelors Hall – North Kapunda Hotel
No-one is quite sure what year the rear accommodation wing of the North Kapunda Hotel was built, but it is estimated to be somewhere between 1848 and 1855. It may have been earlier than 1848 though and built as part of the miner’s accommodation around the town by the North Kapunda Mining Company. The same company built the original structure that would eventually become the North Kapunda Arms Hotel, that in 1865, Mr Crase would re-build into the striking to story hotel we see and know today.
The downstairs section of the hallway, in 1865 contained the first official office of the newly formed Kapunda Council, until they moved to bigger premises on the Clare Road (the building today is the Scout Hall). There were also two large, ornate rooms used by Jenkins and Coles bursars who dealt with the horse sales that were held at the rear of the hotel.
During the late 1880’s, the upstairs section of the hallway was known as “The Bachelor’s Hall”, the following is a poem penned about it by one of its inhabitants
By H. C. DODGE.
Hurrah ! hurrah for Bachelor's Hall;
The Queen's away and I'm monarch of all;
I don't have to hang up my coat or my hat,
And when I get lonely I talk to the cat.
I come when I like, and I go when I choose.
The finest cigars help me scatter the blues;
No bundles I carry and nothing I buy;
There's no one to care about-only big “I”
I revel in wildest confusion around;
There isn't a thing in its place to be found;
My books and newspapers, they litter the room
That' hasn't for weeks seen the sight of a broom.
There's clothing or something on every chair;
My bed's never made, but it's little I care;
I sleep like a top, for there's no one to call
I take solid comfort in Bachelor's Hall.
I've used all the dishes and now it's my fate
To eat, when I'm home, on the back of a plate;
I'm learning to cook, but, alas. I confess
I choose to go hungry than, swallow the mess.
But, Bachelor's Hall with its comfort and quiet,
Is almost too spooky for regular diet;
No children live in it to welcome their dad,
No supper is waiting, no wife-O, so glad.
No! Nothing but ghosts of the loved ones away
Inhabit this tomb where alone I must stay,
Compelled to break silence by having a chat
With my woeful companion, the strange acting cat.
O, gladly I'll yield my crown sceptre and all
The Kingly delights of a Bachelor's Hall
To the Queen of the Home when she comes with her train
To wisely and lovingly over me reign.
First Published in The Kapunda Herald - Tuesday 7 August 1888, page 6
The Bachelor’s Hall saw its own scandal in the 1885 when three of its inhabitants found themselves facing the magistrate at the Kapunda Courthouse for disturbing the peace.
Murray Thomson, Robert Anderton and James Shakes Jnr. Faced the magistrate on May 12th, with Thomson and Anderton represented by Mr Glynn, and Shakes represented by Mr Benham.
The men had been charged because someone had been firing guns in Franklin Street at about 10 past three in the morning.
On the evening of the event, many people had been in town to see the bellringers entertainment and had then retired to the North Kapunda Hotel for a supper put on by Mr Crase, which included sing-alongs and speeches. The bar itself was closed, but the party went on in the commercial room upstairs and on the balcony.
More than 125-gun shots were heard in Franklin Street in about a 10 minute time frame (Franklin Street has since been renamed Crase Street). The police tried to frame the defendants as being the guilty parties, but witnesses declared they had seen Mr Thomson in a room upstairs, light a candle and look out the window in his night clothes at the ongoing disturbance below.
Mr Shakes wasn’t even within the town boundaries when the incident happened, so the case fell apart, instead, the Magistrate went after Mr Crase, under the guise of the act happening outside his hotel, he would be responsible for the people there. Mr Benham quickly shot down this argument as Mr Crase was entertaining upstairs privately, and may not have known who these people were, nor had they been inside his hotel drinking.
The case was eventually thrown out of court.
Interestingly though, the story that circulated through the town was slightly different to the story that surfaced in court. It would seem a number of young men had been drinking in the hotels and had gone to the bellringers event. After the event they began walking the town trying to entertain themselves.
About 15 of these young men were heard in Main Street and were asked to move on by William Thomas when they congregated in front of his bookshop, which most likely angered the young men. It was within the next hour the gun shots occurred in Franklin Street, which may have come about because these young men were refused entry in the North Kapunda Hotel to join the upstairs party!
Originally written as “Kapunda – The Hallway to Hell” and published on Tuesday, 7 June 2016 on The Haunts of Adelaide: History, Mystery and the Paranormal – edited on the 16th of February 2018 by Allen Tiller
© 2016-2018 Allen Tiller