Now by the end of today’s little tale I’m sure you will all think that I have severe ADHD (if you don’t already think it). A few weeks back the “abattoir smell” was really strong around Oakey. When I was asked what it was, I promptly responded that it was the stock yards that they could smell. One helpful local politely pointed out that the stockyards have been closed for a while and the land is now for sale. “Ahh” said I, “but when the wind is in the East, and the sky is dark with cloud, then you can still smell the stock yards that the library was built upon”. Needless to say, no one believed me.
Today’s story, like many others, starts with me digging through the collection and finding an awesome old picture of the area which, just by coincidence, proves I’m not always telling tall tales. When trying to work out the positioning of the photo the Olympia/Wayne’s World forms the best landmark, and what should happen to be on the far right hand side but the stockyards I had spoken of.
Then we moved down the street, you can see the old Westpac 2 story that is now out at the Woolshed, the Post Office when it was half the size it is now and the “Club Hotel” which is now the Bernborough Tavern. Now I had known it as the Country Club Hotel before it was torn down, but when we looked closer at the image the word above was too long. Trove digitised newspapers to the rescue. As far back as 1909 the hotel is listed in advertisements as “The Club Hotel”, and so this leads us to think that the name at the top (possibly Hendersons) was the name of the owner at the time of the image.
Well after straining our eyes trying to work out the name on the sign, some smart aleck (who may look a little bit like me) made the comment that at least the Grand is easy to make out… then we noticed the extra ‘e’ on the end. Promptly forgetting the Club/Country Club original puzzle, we set out to find out when the Grande became the Grand. Back to Trove we went only to find that nearly every article and advert listed it as “The Grand” in Oakey. I did find one little article from “The Queenslander” in 1905 that states that “The Grande is one of the most pretentious buildings in Oakey, and is situated in the main street…and visitors to Oakey will do well not to overlook his Grande Hotel”. Now it’s at this point in the story that the Friends of the Library came in and the sparks started firing in my brain. I was sure I had seen an old ledger in the collection dealing with liquor licenses, and so I went digging again.
What I found was the ledger dealing with the renewal and transfers of licenses from about 1912 to 1930 (insert quiet squee of delight from our new casual) for the Jondaryan and Pittsworth area. Flicking to the Grand Hotel Oakey entry it was interesting to note that the ‘e’ wasn’t included in the ledger except for the 1917 entry at which point the main heading had the ‘e’ tacked onto the end of Grand in a different coloured ink. A quick walk up the street shows the current license listed under The Grand Hotel, and so no clues as to why the name changes. We also had a look at “The Club Hotel” but couldn’t find any listing to help pin point when it was changed to “The Country Club”. Well that’s all I’ve got for you this week, I’ll leave you to contemplate the changes in pubs in Oakey… we might just have to do some “product testing” after work.