Friend in Hand Hotel
Corner Fyansford-Gheringhap road and what came to be known as Friend in Hand road
Sunrise from Friend in Hand Road by Geoffrey123
Click first image to see detail in full
Friend in Hand Timeline
1854 Thomas Brock purchased land on corner of Fyansford-Gheringhap road and what came to be known as Friend in Hand road.
1855 Hotel, a two-storey, solid-brick, slate-roof construction with a sitting room, bar parlor, five bedrooms and a bachelors' hall. Before completion of the hotel, Brock, his mother and step-father, Thomas Solomon Crabtree (a regular drinker) move in. Crabtree found guilty of killing Brock with a large cast- iron pot in a tent near the hotel and sentenced to seven years hard labour.
1857 Friend in Hand Hotel open to the public.
1859 William Roberts takes over premises.
1861 Hotel license transferred to Thomas Lloyd Poole.
1863 Hotel's stock was again being auctioned off.
1866 Friend in Hand Hotel was no longer trading.
Property again sold with the new owner, John Rock, using the land to run stock
1870 Hotel leased to Daniel Butler Watson.
1871 Watson lived at the hotel operating it as a small store.
Watson arrested and committed to stand trial on charges of forgery, etc.
During this time, it has been suggested, the hotel became home to passing tramps and criminals.
1876 John Rock demolishes building and auctions the building materials.
2016 Site is currently pasture land.
It is difficult to understand the ongoing failure of this establishment; particularly in light of its prime location on the heavily-trafficked Geelong to Ballarat road. Perhaps the over-saturation of public houses (six hotels within a seven mile stretch of road), coupled with the fact that by the 1860s the bulk of alluvial gold deposits at Ballarat had been worked out and that in 1862 the Geelong-Ballarat railway line was opened, all combined to render these institutions less successful.
(Ref. Jo Mitchell's Barwon Blog).
In 1996 John Pescott was living in St. Leonards, Victoria.
Pescott began his working life in the public service but left after two years to became a carpenter/builder and then a teacher of woodwork and English.
Pescott started Neptune Press in the 1970s to feature writers from the Geelong region.
He compiled the history text, South Barwon 1857-1985, for Victoria's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1985.
He collaborated with Victorian pilot John Miles in producing Testing Time (1979); Miles's biography.
John Pescott's Publications:
The Ghost at Friend-in-Hand, Belmont : Neptune Press , 1977
In Search of Benito's Treasure, Belmont : Neptune Press , 1980
Adventure in Flinders' Footsteps, Belmont : Neptune Press , 1975
For a comprehensive, and certainly a far more entertaining read
of the ups-n-downs of this ill-fated establishment
see Jo Mitchell’s two Barwon Blog posts:
Thomas Brock: the ghost of the Friend in Hand (September, 2016)
What really happened at the Friend in Hand Hotel? (October, 2016)
"The story goes that in the 1850s, the pub's owner hit his son-in-law over the head with a saucepan. He died, was buried on a farm and haunted the area. The pub ended in ruins.
Such was the ghost's reputation that my grandfather and his brother dressed in white sheets to spook a notorious cattle duffer who stole stock from farms at night.
The pair jumped out in front of the thief's horse, which bolted. He was never seen again....
"...the old Friend in Hand, which was situated on the Ballarat road about three miles from Fyansford. It was the home of tramps for many years. Early residents said that when it was being built two bricklayers (father and son) quarrelled and one killed the other with a hammer. Afterwards the place was supposed to be haunted, so that with fewer teams passing and the supposed ghost, trade fell away and tenants did not stay long in it.
But, was the Friend in Hand Hotel, in fact, haunted?
Surely, any place with a history such as Fyansford's
must have more than its share of ghosts...
Was the Friend in Hand Hotel haunted?
Many think it was.