Early settler John Liddle built the Bridge Hotel at Forth in 1871. It opened in January the following year.

Advertisement for carpenters for the Bridge Hotel.


This is earliest photo I can find, from around 1900. The building in front already looks a bit ramshackle. I wonder if it was the stables?

Bridge Hotel circa 1900

THE HOTEL CIRCA 1900 (Source – Museums Victoria)

I must thank Anita Smith Johnson for posting this photo on the Ulverstone History FB site a few years ago. It shows a meeting of the Heybridge Hounds about to set off from the hotel  around 1904. Apparently a  ‘drag’ was used for the hounds to chase  instead of live game.

Fifty years on it was human rather than horse power that was on show. In 1953 the hotel was the starting point for  a charity wheelbarrow race which ended  in Ulverstone.  I’m not sure whether it was  better to be a pusher or a passenger….. bumping along in barrow could not have been comfortable.

Wheelbarrow race leaving the Bridge Hotel

READY TO GO. (Advocate, Oct. 20 1950)

The race covered five and a half miles and took place in a strong headwind ……and rain. 😨 The winners, R.V. Hobbs (pusher) and N. Manson (Sitter) completed the course in 39 minutes.


I’m not sure whether there are many fish to be caught beside the Bridge Hotel these days, but in early times the river had a wonderful reputation. Publican  Charlie Cherry  (1905- 1906) was a champion ex-footballer and runner,  He arrived from the Huon Valley and immediately turned his attention to fishing;

I have removed from appleland to spudland, and I must say this is a fisherman’s paradise. The river is at the door, and I believe the largest blackfish in the island are caught in it. Last night a couple of local anglers went out for half an hour and landed these beauties; 3lb, 4lb and 4 ½ lb. Last Monday I had a cast for trout and landed two, 3½lb and 4lb.

Angling guests at the pub were full of praise for Mr Cherry’s generosity with advice and  the use of his boat.

There were no bag limits and the number of fish caught was astonishing.


Pubs by their very nature are often the target of thieves.  In 1950 a rear door of the Bridge Hotel was forced  and a safe containing nearly five hundred pounds was removed from the sitting room. It weighed 3cwt (over 150 kg), and was wheeled out the front door on a hand trolley, then driven off  in a stolen motor vehicle.  The robbery turned out to be the work of a mainland gang. Someone had previously stayed a night to case the premises, then flown back to Melbourne to organize the heist.   Mrs Kathleen Hodgson, the licensee , was made aware of the missing safe next morning  by a maid, who could not conceive of it being stolen and asked Mrs Hogson if it had been taken upstairs for the night. The culprits were caught, but the money was not located and the safe probably ended up in the river.

Licensee of the Bridge Hotel Mrs Kathleen Hodgson.

Mrs Hodgson at the front door.. The safe was wheeled through it on a trolley.

The pub’s centenary year in 1972 should have been a wonderful time of celebration, but a serious fire at the hotel was followed by the death of its much loved publican, Ernest (Ernie) Morrison.

I don’t want really to dwell on this, but it’s part of the pub’s history. As I remember it, Ernie Morrison was president of the local football club and  he discovered that the treasurer  had been embezzling funds. He arranged a meeting to discuss the matter and  things could probably have been sorted out. Sadly, before the meeting took place  the man involved poisoned Ernie’s dog with strychnine  then shot Ernie on the back steps.


My personal memories of the Bridge Hotel are from the early seventies. At the time it was famous for its home made meat pies served with tomato relish.


These days the hotel is  still thriving and is a well known  live music venue. For information on dining, events etc, CLICK HERE.

The tragic events of that centenary year inspired a song by Brian  Fraser called The River Ran Red. To hear it, CLICK HERE

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