Carrington Hotel: The Old City Bank (Katoomba, Blue Mountains)

Carrington Hotel: The Old City Bank (Katoomba, Blue Mountains)

Carrington Hotel: The Old City Bank (Katoomba, Blue Mountains)

The original land grant of 50 acres was made to James Henry Neal on 10 October 1877 under the provisions of the Volunteer Force Regulation Act 1867. On 8 January 1881 the land was transferred to Frederick Clissold of Ashfield, who subdivided the entire portion.

Tenders were called for the Western Star Hotel by J. Kirkpatrick of Kirkpatrick & Bossler, architects in September 1881. On 18 January 1882 Lots 10-15 of Section 2 was transferred to Harry George Rowell. The same year the hotel was constructed by F. Drewett, a builder from Lithgow, opening as the Great Western Hotel. Tenders were called later that year by Kirkpatrick for additions to the hotel, possibly the stone wing. On 24 April 1883 Harry George Rowell purchased Lots 1 & 2 of Section 2 of Deposited Plan 292 from Frederick Clissold.

In 1884 the Great Western Hotel is described as accommodating seventy to eighty persons with nearly sixty rooms.

On 9 September 1886 Thomas Frederick Thompson and Henry Moses, wine and spirit merchants, exercised Power of Sale under their Mortgage of 1 July 1885 and transferred the property to James Hunt and Henry Thorpe, hotelkeepers.

On 6 October 1887 the property was leased to Frederick Charles Goyder of Katoomba. In 1886 Lord Carrington, Governor of NSW visited the hotel and gave permission for Goyder to change its name to The Carrington Hotel.

Between 1887 to 1889 Goyder built an additional wing, dining hall, two drawing rooms and a music room, resulting in 119 bedrooms and seven suites of rooms, two tennis courts and flower and vegetable gardens.

On 30 April 1888 the property was transferred to F.C. Goyder and mortgaged to Hunt and Thorpe. On 10 March 1898 the mortgage was transferred to Henry Thorpe and Sydney Mansfield Rowell. On 24 July 1899 the property was leased to William Frederick Goyder, son of F.C. Goyder.

The mortgage was foreclosed on 19 September 1901 and ownership passed to Thorpe and Rowell. The property was leased to Arthur Lawrence Peacock on 19 September 1901.

Between 1904 to 1911 Peacock carried out various alterations and additions, mostly redecoration and including services of lavatories, baths and water closets on each floor.

In 1908 Edward, Prince of Wales stayed at the Hotel.

The power station at the rear of the Carrington Hotel was built in 1910. It provided the first electricity supply not only to the Carrington Hotel but also to Katoomba and other Blue Mountains towns. The octagonal brick chimney remains an important Katoomba landmark. A boiler which was in use until the 1980s. An earlier horizontal boiler was removed when the current boiler was installed. The latter, had a name plate: D.H. Berghouse Ultimo. It was reported to have been brought from Sydney by rail, having previously operated in the Arcadia Hotel. It was constructed of revitted steel plates and features six ‘spy holes’. Various tools for raking etc remain nearby. This boiler was removed in the 1990s without prior approval.

On 10th October 1911 the property and remainder of lease was transferred to James Joynton Smith. Between 1911 and 1912 Joynton Smith commissioned local Katoomba architects HR Goyder & Hewlett Hogben for construction of new Main Street Bar and a motor garage at the rear of the Hotel. New driveways were also constructed.

Between 1912 to 1913 the stone and wrought iron gates to Katoomba Street , front terrace, steps and balcony, stained glass screen to verandah, dining room fireplaces and electric power house and chimney, including first floor laundry and servants’ quarters were constructed. The kitchen ceiling was raised, floors above replaced with reinforced concrete, new men’s bathrooms installed on the second floor and fire hydrants were installed throughout. The architects were Gotder Bros and the builders were Howie, Brown & Moffit of Sydney. At this time the pine trees and garden were also redesigned.

Samuel Timmings worked as the gardener at the Carrington Hotel from 1914-1947. He worked as the gardener at Nellie Melba’s house in Rose Bay, Sydney. In 1912 he was employed as gardener at the Hydro Majestic Hotel (Medlow Bath), possibly through the friendship between its owner Mark Foy and Nellie Melba’s agent, Hugh Ward. Samuel rode a bike from Katoomba to Medlow Bath each day, but after 18 months got a job closer to home at the Carrington. His wife Mabel said ‘I think Joynton pinched him’ and this is quite likely, for his new position was around the time Mark Foy transferred the Hydro over to James Joynton-Smith – the owner of the Carrington Hotel. His son Les worked with him in the 1930s and then at Everglades, Leura in the late 1940s. Les said of his father, here: ‘mowing with a bloody heavy thing called a Greenge, up and down the slope, one pushing and the other pulling…Dad would get down on his hands and knees to clip the edges using sheep shears…and he planted many trees and plants, including a beautiful circular rose garden…Dad’s garden shed was between the Stone Wing and the Boiler House, where he’d boil the billy for his tea.’ In recognition of his work, Timmings’ name was etched into the stone paving in Carrington Place (street-front park landscaping) in 2002, at the top of the small steps at the southern end.

Around 1923 the Hotel was under the control of the Joynton Smith Management Trust and had over 200 bedrooms. Between 1923 and 1927 the attic bedrooms were enlarged by removing dormer windows and the widow’s walk and building a flat roofed terrace. Additional bathrooms were added at the southern end. The dining room was enlarged and a lift installed. The western end of the original north wing was demolished and a new wing added with 23 bedrooms and parking and service rooms beneath. Walls were also removed to create a cocktail lounge and ballroom.

Electricity supply to the Blue Mountains area was taken over by local councils in April 1925. The power house equipment was removed, except for the boiler which was converted to supply hot water to the Hotel.

In 1927 the Duke and Duchess of York visited the Carrington. During this same Australian tour they opened Parliament House in Canberra.

On 17 November 1947, following the death of Joynton Smith, an allocation of title was made to William Patrick Donohoe, Francis Patrick Donohoe and Gladys Joynton Smith. On 24 October 1950 Gladys Joynton Smith entered into a Deed of Appointment with Permanent Trustee Company Limited, William Patrick Donohoe and Francis Patrick Donohoe, who are also the executors and trustees of her late husband’s will.

Between 1947 and 1953 the tennis court was reconstructed. In 1953 the tennis court was removed and the Starlight Room and a new bar was built.

On 18 December 1967 the property was transferred to six people, one of whom was Theodore Constantine Morris, holds a half share. On 5 May 1969 the entire property was transferred to Morris. In 1968 the swimming pool was constructed and a general redecoration was undertaken.

During the later years of the 20th century elements such as the pergola, trellis and some garden beds were removed and the swimming pool (since filled in) were added to the upper terrace. New trees were planted, some, e.g. the Himalayan cedars (Cedrus deodara) placed with respect for the symmetrical nature of the 1911-13 design and others planted seemingly at random. From the 1960s onwards there was a gradual erosion in the level of garden maintenance, resulting in a loss of detail. The introduction of public bus shelters on Katoomba Street in front of the early 20th century stone wall of the Carrington Hotel obscured and detracted from traditional views to the place.

The hotel was closed in 1986 under then owner Theo Morris for non-compliance with fire regulations. It was boarded up.

Revival: 1992 – 1998:

In 1992, Geoffrey Leach, a building contractor, began a process of restoration said to have cost rather less than $8m. In December 1998, the ground floor and one floor of guest rooms was re-opened, with other areas following as progress and finances permitted. Mr. Leach would not say what the restoration has cost, but claims it is less than the "6m to 8m’ he says is being spent on that other fabulous mountains hotel, the Hydro Majestic.

Lynch’s first task was to restore the pub at the driveway’s entry on Katoomba Street, which has been generating income for the project for some years now. Inside the hotel, the art nouveau windows to the enclosed verandah have been replicated and the black and white tiled bathrooms – many with original fittings – restored. Uptsairs one large room – the ‘treasure room’ – was used to stockpile any original items – light fittings, clocks, items of furniture, a pair of genuine Ming vases, the silver plate that now sits in a glass-fronted cupboard in the dining room. Vast Victorian oil paintings went off for cleaning and restoration, chandeliers were cleaned and re-hung, silver polished, clocks returned to working order, and pieces of furniture copied for the guest rooms (the bedheads even have the CH logo)

In 2002 a master plan for a new town square was approved and implemented, partly imposing inside the Carrington’s lower garden and involving its redesign, relocation of the intrusive bus shelters, ramps, paving and widespread replanting.

In 2004 Leach’s interest was purchased by Michael Brischetto and Mark Jarvis, who announced ambitious new plans for a backpackers’ hostel, a large number of bedrooms, new retail facilities and a drive-through bottle shop in the former power house. The partners have achieved some of these aims, while also devoting their energies to the conservation of the hotel’s original fabric.

In July 2010 a bottle shop was opened in the former boiler room of the powerhouse facing Parke Street. This involved the stabilisation of portions of the internal and external fabric of the structure.

Source: New South Wales Heritage Register.

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