In 1903 there was a public vote to determine whether Mr F.H. Furner’s new hotel in the seaside Tasmanian town of Ulverstone should be granted a liquor licence. Surprise, surprise….the ayes were in the majority.

Furner's Hotel under construction in 1903. The stable complex was at the rear.
UNDER CONSTRUCTION IN 1903

The old Queen had died the previous year, but the design was the epitome of the Victorian era; large, florid and very solid! It was constructed on a one acre site, and at the rear of the building was a courtyard, surrounded by well appointed stables.

Opening night was a grand affair, reported in The Advocate on November 16;

Grand opening of Furner's Hotel.

A lengthy write-up followed, describing the interior and some of its innovative features;

The folding doors shutting off a portion of the dining rooms for private dinner parties are also worth noting. The opening is 14ft wide and nine feet high, yet a child could easily open or close the doors., they are being hung at top with a revolving screw working in a barrel groove on ball bearings, which allow the five doors to close up in a space of less than a foot at one side. These are among the first folding doors in Australia fitted with these McCabe rollers, the patent being the latest from America.

The building is lighted with acetylene gas; it has the largest generator in Tasmania, requiring to be charged only twice per week.

SPORTING PLEASURES…. AND SPENDING A PENNY

There was also a mention of outdoor pleasures. Lawn bowls and tennis were to be offered to guests;

THE GROUNDS ARE TO BE LAID OUT AS A GARDEN, WITH ASPHALT TENNIS COURT IN ONE CORNER. THE WATER SUPPLY IS FROM TANKS SUPPLIED FROM A WELL, BEING PUMPED UP BY AN ‘AERMOTER’ WINDMILL FURNISHED BY A.G. WEBSTER AND SON, DEVONPORT.

Only one small issue to caused concern; ‘The sanitary conveniences are as perfect as the absence of a water and sewerage system will permit.’ Yes, well let’s move on!

It was a remarkably impressive building for such a small town. And a year after completion, more stabling was added by new licensee, Mr H. Hiscutt. On July 14 1904 The Advocate reported;

He has added a row of stables containing six stables and two roomy horse boxes, all of which are well fitted up and comfortable. These in addition to the stables already built now ensure every accommodation to those who desire to have their animals. A spacious carriage and cart shed has also been erected. A separate entrance from King Edward Street leads into the stables, making everything easy of access and quite in keeping with this first-class hotel.

Stabling remained an essential service until cars became more common post WWI. From the North West Post 4 December 1911;

Stable accident at Furner's Hotel.
ALWAYS ROOM AT THE INN FOR IMPROVEMENT

Another item in the North West Post appeared just before Christmas 1914. Yes, the country was at war, but the general feeling was that the conflict would be over quite quickly, with Great Britain and her allies victorious. Life went on…..

23 December 1914 FURNER’S HOTEL – Ulverstone’s leading hostelry is just as popular as ever, not only with travellers, visitors and tourists, but also with local people. Mr McGowan, the genial proprietor, certainly possesses the art of making people comfortable and happy. Visitors are already arriving, and more are to follow. Every modern convenience is installed at this thoroughly modern hotel, which has tennis and bowling green attached to its grounds. At present Mr McGowan is busy extending the premises by the addition of another bathroom and lavatory. The electric light has recently been installed at the bowling green, and playing by night is becoming extremely popular.

Layout of Furner's Hotel premises, including  the stable complex .
COURTYARD AND EXTENSIVE OUTBUILDINGS AT THE REAR OF THE HOTEL NOTE STABLES, TENNIS COURT (ARROW) AND BOWLING GREENS
FURNER’S HOTEL SEVENTY YEARS ON…..AND A SPECIAL MEMENTO

Following the death of Tasmanian artist Owen Lade in 2007, the National Trust received a collection of his watercolour paintings. One was of Furner’s Hotel, dating from 1970. I enjoyed a few drinks and counter lunches in there myself around that time.

Watercolour of Furner's Hotel by Owen Lade
FURNER’S HOTEL BY OWEN LADE, CIRCA 1970 (NATIONAL TRUST OF TASMANIA)
Furner's Hotel as it is today.

Main course for Christmas dinner at Furners in 2020 is probably not that different to the meal patrons would have enjoyed in 1914. I doubt those vegetarian options would have appeared on the menu though.

Christmas menu at Furner's  Hotel 2020
FROM THE HOTEL’S 1930’S DINNER SERVICE (photo – Craig Broadfield)

NOTE – NO DOUBT THE LIQUOR LICENCE GRANTED TO FURNER’S IN 1903 WAS GREETED WITH DELIGHT, BUT FOR TEA-TOTALLERS IN THE TOWN THERE HAD ALWAYS BEEN LOCAL CORDIAL!

2 Comments
  1. Thank you for your little history of Furners. I thoroughly enjoy your articles!

  2. Pauline

    Thanks Peter, just a sheer joy to research and write!

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