You won’t miss the Richmond Arms Hotel when you drive into Richmond. It has a commanding presence on Bridge Street in the centre of the village. It’s currently the only Richmond pub in operation, however things weren’t always this way.
When you walk inside there’s a restaurant on the right and a bar on the left. The pub has recently been acquired by new owners who have gone to a lot of effort to improve the menu. You will find local seafood and cheese platters and a much more extensive wine list than you would normally find in a hotel. After all, you are in the Coal River Valley!
The bar on the left side of the building has a friendly, old fashioned country pub atmosphere. The kind that Australian country towns are known for, but you rarely see anymore since the pokie machines entered pubs.
Live music is regularly offered in the bar on a Sunday afternoon. This can be a great way to unwind on your holiday in Tasmania.
There’s a beer garden and seating with shade out the front, where you can sit with a cool drink and relax.
There is accommodation available in the original stables. The stables have been renovated tastefully, with exposed sandstone walls. Yet care has been made to incorporate modern comforts into this colonial building. This is great for those who want to be close to everything Richmond offers and enjoy the comfort of a grand old country pub.
History of the Richmond Arms Hotel
The Richmond Arms Hotel actually started as the Lennox Arms in 1827. We are under the assumption this name was selected after Charles Lennox, the Duke of Richmond in England.
It was constructed in 1827 by prominent local James Buscombe, who was responsible for many of Richmond’s first buildings such as the Granary, Post Office and Prospect House.
This pub was originally seen as a high quality protestant inn. This inn was popular with those travelling through Richmond, with Buscombe promising higher standards of wine that anywhere you could visit in Hobart Town.
The original pub was a two story premises in a prime location in the middle of the village on Bridge Street.
Like many inns at the time, it always seemed to be part of key events in the community, with election results often announced from the top verandah to the village residents below. The pub also sold groceries and housed the post office, before Buscombe constructed a separate building for these down the street.
In 1888 The Lennox Arms was destroyed by fire. Fortunately the sandstone stables survived and are now used for tourist accommodation. At the time the pub was owned by Cascade Brewery who rebuilt a1 7 room double storey sandstone building with large street facing verandah. This was renamed the Commercial Hotel. In 1972 The Commercial Hotel was renamed The Richmond Arms Hotel, a name which was thought to be more suitable for the growing level of tourism in the area.
There have been up to 7 pubs in operation at one point. The drinking hole of choice usually depended on whether you were catholic with an Irish background or protestant with English heritage.
Catholic Richmond Pubs
The first Richmond pub was the Union Hotel, located near the Richmond Bridge in an area of Richmond known as Irish Town It was owned by Simon McCulloch, one of Richmond’s former convicts who upon freedom, married and started a family and went into business. Simon became Richmond’s longest running victualler, operating the pub from 1826 to 1863.
Another Irish Richmond pub was the Richmond Hotel, which opened in 1838. This beautiful two story sandstone building still stands on the corner of Henry Street and Bathurst Street. The painted signage ‘Ales & Porter’ can still be seen on the façade. The first publican was Laurence Cotham, brother of local catholic priest Father Cotham and husband to Sarah Cassidy, whose father owned the large Woodburn Farm near St John’s Church.
Richmond pubs became a real community hub. When convict slaves had gone missing from local farms, they were often found at the Richmond Hotel. It wasn’t long and Cotham was auctioning agricultural machinery and livestock at the hotel. Cotham also operated a coaching service, which transported small numbers of passengers to and from Hobart.
The Bridge Inn was first opened as the Richmond Wine Vaults in 1824, where Sweets and Treats now stands. In 1833 it became the Bridge Inn, where it continued to trade as a licensed venue until 1975. This large inn comprised of a house with 11 rooms, two cellars, a large stable and an enclosed yard with garden. Most pubs in the 1800’s brewed their own beer, and in 1856 the publican Daniel Murphy took on a brewer.
The Bridge Inn was another significant focal point of the community, providing more than just a place to drink and sleep. There were fortnightly auctions conducted in the rear yard during the 1860’s – another way to increase drinking customers. A blacksmith shop and coaching service to Hobart have also operated here.
Richmond had a tradition of running horse races on New Year’s Day, where the community would meet and enjoy a few beverages. The Bridge Inn, along with the Lennox Arms, were the two inns allowed to provide liquor at these events. Most visitors enjoyed a day of drinking and socialising, however there was always a bit of trouble from those who had too much drink or prisoners who escaped to enjoy the festivities.
One of the more short-lived pubs was the Sawyers Arms. This pub was situated in Gunning Street and only lasted from 1843 to 1847, when owner Francis Atkinson went bankrupt.
The Prince of Wales Inn was another Irish inn, located on Franklin Street and opened in 1849. In 1861 they then added on the two story brick building which is now known as Mrs Currie’s House. This addition was built by brothers John and James McGowan, sons of Irish convicts who had arrived in Tasmania in 1818. This pub sponsored a number of sporting events such as pigeon shooting and running faces, which attracted a number of sporting clientele.
Protestant Richmond Pubs
The most popular Richmond pub with protestants and visitors was the Lennox Arms, which as previously mentioned, is now the Richmond Arms Hotel.
Another protestant venue was the Star and Garter Inn. This opened in 1832 at the Hobart end of Bridge Street. The first section of the pub with it’s large street-facing glass windows was completed in 1832, with two additional rooms added to the side later. Star and Garter was another pub to provide a coach service to Hobart Town during the 1860’s.
Richmond Arms Hotel
Address: 42 Bridge Street Richmond
Phone: 03 6260 2109
A Social History of Richmond by Peter Macfie – a great read, especially for those seeking to find out more about the people of colonial Richmond.