The Club Hotel was a large weatherboard hotel on the north-west corner of Wilson and Urquhart streets, on what is now the Bunnings carpark.
It was a good hotel for most of its life but eventually succumbed to the vagaries of place, politics and time.
Built in 1877 by James Mellor, the hotel started life as 'The Commercial Travellers' Club', a respectable boarding house for gentlemen requiring accommodation in the rapidly developing town of Horsham.
A meeting, called by solicitor, James Twigg, was held at the Club on September 1, 1877, at which the Wimmera Lodge of Freemasonry was inaugurated.
Mellor was granted a liquor licence on May 16, 1878, after which he changed the name to 'The Club Hotel'.
The hotel's stables, from 1877 till at least the mid-1880s, were used by Cobb & Co as their depot for coaches to Dimboola, Apsley and Lawloit.
Unconventionally, but probably as a matter of convenience due to the smell, the stables were also used by the authorities as a de-facto morgue in the 1880s for corpses discovered a few days after their death.
In 1886, Mellor sold his hotel to James Hart, who had sold his farm to take up a new career.
Despite repainting and repapering the hotel, he was not successful and became insolvent after only a few months. The bank foreclosed on Hart and installed first Charles Smith, then George Nisbet as licensees.
Mr Nisbet was one who chose to sail close to the wind, being convicted of trading out of hours and generally known to have a less-than-savoury clientele.
...convicted of trading out of hours and generally known to have a less-than-savoury clientele.
In 1891 the bank sold the hotel to a licensed surveyor, Tom Turner. George Nisbet, having a long lease on the hotel, came with it. Turner was the surveyor who marked the northern part of the border between Victoria and South Australia.
He owned the hotel until his death in 1918. Normal closing time for hotels in those days was 11.30pm.
On December 14, 1891 the Club Hotel, along with several other Horsham hotels, was granted a special permit to stay open until 2.30am to allow passengers arriving in Horsham on the Adelaide to Melbourne express train to get accommodation.
A subsequent licensee, Edward Culliver, applied for an even later licence (3.00am), which was granted on December 16, 1895.
Despite having good passing trade, the hotel suffered by being too far from the then commercial centre of Horsham at the western end of Wilson Street. It was also on flood-prone land.
The June 1889 flood threatened to engulf the Club Hotel but only reached the top of the footpath.
However, in the big flood of August 1909 the Club Hotel was inundated, its floor being covered by water.
At the peak of the influence of the Temperance Movement in Australia, special Licence Deprivation sittings of the Licensing Court determined that two of Horsham's hotels should be closed down.
The Club Hotel was described as, "a local hotel with a wooden building in a portion of the town which shows little or no signs of development and is away from the business centre". Its licence was not to be renewed beyond 1922.
Compensation for the loss of the licence was determined as 650 pounds to the owner (Bridget Shiels) and 250 pounds to the licensee (William Halligan). Last drinks were served by Mr Halligan on December 31, 1922.
An article appearing in the Horsham Times on January 5, 1923 noted the event and described the Club Hotel as, "once a leading hostelry". Halligan went on to purchase his own hotel at Charlton.
He was praised at his farewell dinner as being an excellent hotelkeeper and that the Club Hotel was "a little out of the running, so far as location was concerned, but he had managed it creditably".
The hotel's owner, Bridget Shiels, applied for a boarding house licence in July 1923. She ran it as such for less than two years before selling it to builder and timber merchant, Charles Cooper Clark, around February 1925.
Clark demolished the hotel and constructed two bungalows on the site, offering them for sale in mid-1926.
In the mid-1940s the Weight family, who ran a hardware business west of the site, purchased the property and sold off the bungalows for removal.
One was moved to Lynott Street, Horsham and the other to Jung. The site was used by Weights for their hardware business and, since 2001, as a carpark. It is presently owned by hardware chain, Bunnings Warehouse.