Rediscovering Ginninderra: A database:
The Cricketers' Arms
From the 1840s until about 1858 Julia Webb (known as 'Judy the Great') operated a sly grog shop out of her slab hut on Ginninderra Creek near Parkwood. It became known as 'Grant Inn'. She also practised midwifery and nursing. Webb was forced to close after a conviction and fine of £30 and went to live at Springbank.
The next pub in Ginninderra was built and opened by Irish couple, Patrick Grace and Mary (nee Wright), in 1864 at One Tree Hill in Ginninderra. Grace selected Portion 14 of 41 acres to the north of the Yass road as well as Portion 21 on the opposite side of the road, on which the hotel was built. Portion 14 eventually became the venue for a variety of sporting competitions and ploughing matches. On St Patrick’s Day 1865, the first race meeting was held opposite the inn. Cricket was often played on the grounds opposite and the hotel eventually became known as 'The Cricketers’ Arms'.
Within its first three years of operation the hotel was held up by bushrangers who stole over £8 in cash as well as cigars, spirits and other provisions. The men were identified, caught and convicted soon after.
In 1871 the lease was transferred to the Graces’ son, James, who ran the pub for five years with his wife, Martha (nee Sidebotham). Then it was the turn of Samuel Davis and Ruth (also a Davis) to take over. During this time the hotel became a focus for social gatherings of up to 300 people. There were large athletics events, steel quoits challenges, horse races, games of cricket and football, and political meetings. The Cricketers’ Arms even became a venue for local horsebreeders to meet and to hire out stallions to service mares. Publicans were often literate and numerate and good to have on hand in the execution of contracts.
In 1879 Joseph Bolton took over the lease of the hotel with his wife, Mary Ann (nee Griffiths). He organised coursing with live hares and pigeon shooting matches. A few years later a new building was constructed alongside the hotel to provide extra accommodation and to act as a sample room for commercial travellers. A visiting dentist also set up a shingle at the hotel and would visit on occasion.
By 1886 Ginninderra was holding its own ploughing matches on land opposite. The hotel also became the venue for fledgling community groups such as the Ginninderra Free Selectors’ Association and the Ginninderra Pastoral and Agricultural Association. In 1890 much interest was aroused in a steel quoits match held between George Read (of Gundaroo but later of Naas) and Frederick Warwick (the local blacksmith's brother) with a purse of £10. Eighteen-year-old Read won (31 to 11). This was also the year that batchelor, James McLaughlin, became the new licensee. He operated a blacksmith’s shop briefly at the hotel in opposition to Alexander Warwick’s workshop near Deasland.
In 1894 the One Tree Hill Jockey Club converted the annual race meetings opposite the hotel to a more popular ‘picnic race’ format. This was a precursor of the One Tree Hill Race Club which was formed in 1900. In this decade there were also military tournaments held at the ground which included local members of the NSW Mounted Rifles.
McLaughlin sold out in 1896 to Murrumbateman publican, Malachi Hollingsworth. But Hollingsworth died two years later and his wife Susannah (nee Curran) took over the hotel licence. In August 1905, Morris ‘Mon’ Lazarus of Queanbeyan became licensee with his wife Margaret ‘Doll’ (nee Hatch; daughter of William and Margaret Hatch of Rosewood). Susannah Hollingsworth remained in the district, opening up a boarding house in the village of Hall. In 1906 Mon Lazarus was elected President of the Hall Progress Association and in the following year, the Hall Football Club began using the One Tree Hill ground, opposite the hotel, as its base.
The death knell came in June 1917 when the Minister for Home Affairs, King O’Malley, prohibited the selling of alcohol in the new Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Previously, another North American, Walter Burley Griffen, had criticised the excessive drinking taking place at the hotel by the workmen employed on the new capital. The Cricketers’ Arms, the only pub in the FCT, was forced to close within six months. In June 1918 the licence was relinquished and Lazarus moved to Appin. After a hard fought legal battle with the Commonwealth, he was eventually compensated over £3,000 for the loss of his business and land.
In the 1930s the building was demolished, after being the home of the O'Brien family for many years.
Click on the caption (⧉) to view photo details and attribution.
- Bolton, E., A Brief History of Joseph and Mary Ann Bolton; Residents of Rockwood, Canberra, 1994
- Gillespie, L. L., Canberra: 1820-1913, Canberra, 1991
- Gillespie, L. L., Ginninderra: Forerunner to Canberra, Campbell, 1992
- Newman, C., Gold Creek: Reflections of Canberra’s Rural Heritage, Ngunnawal, 2004
- Purchase, S. (ed.), Canberra’s Early Hotels: a Pint-sized History, Canberra, 1999
- Smith, L. R., Memories of Hall, Canberra, 1975
- Warman, M., The Hatch Family in Australia, Canberra, 1981