Searching for the Red Lion Inn

 Extracts from my book.

      Red Lion Inn

                 Liverpool Street. Hobart




Early in 1820s upper Liverpool Street must have been a very busy thoroughfare, it was manly frequented by those who would not have businesses in the more progressive centre of Hobart Town.                          


Along with Collin and Goulburn Streets it was well supplied with Public Houses and Inns.


The Red Lion Inn was first opened in 1820, it was called the Kangaroo  Inn.  The land it was built on was first granted to Robert Lathrop Murray and thought as late as 1836 he claimed to have an interest in the Red Lion and that the license could not be transferred without his consent, his name however did not appear on any of the licenses granted by the Justice Board.


The first licensee was Mr Thomas Dixon who opened the Kangaroo Inn in October 1820.


In 1823 Neils Basstian advertised himself in the HTG as able to make sails, cots and bags and that his goods were available for sale at Mr Dixon’s Kangaroo Inn in Liverpool Street.



On the 23 September 1825 the Colonial Times carried an advertisement:


‘To let, that old established well-frequented inn

the Kangaroo with immediate possession’.


Then again on the 30 September 1825:


‘To be let or sold that old established Inn and liquor shop, the property of Thomas Dixon in Liverpool Street, with a large tanning establishment and outhouses, large productive gardens well stocked with the best description of fruit trees.  The house is in full business and affords an opportunity for a person disposed to enter into the public line rarely to be met with. Greatest part pf purchase money may remain in mortgage – enquire of Mr Dixon, the proprietor on the premises.’


From this description it would seem that this building had been there for a good many years, having a well established tanning business and well established fruit trees producing fruit. In 1824 it was called old and seems likely that the house had been turned into an Inn by 1820.


There was a piece in the Critic 13 April 1917 which described the Inn as nothing more than a low drinking shop and was surrounded by a number of dwellings of wattle and daub order.  It was also described as being a notorious resort for ticket-of-leave men and the hangers on in the settlement in the thirties. Thomas Dixon died in 1825 and the property was inherited by his son.


Map showing where the Red Lion Inn was situated well before other houses were added. The one on the left shows the only buildings standing on the grant of R.L. Murray. The one on the right is a later version with the building on the left being added. (note number change - Workman’s Club earlier being 183 in 1858 and the Red Lion 191 and house 189).




1858 Valuation Roll



                                                                                  Goulburn Street


                                                                        7 small houses 5L each




                                               Granted to R.L. Murray




                                     house     house     Red Lion Inn      house

                                     shop       shop                                      shop

                                     36L          36L                90L                 48L[1]



                                           No  195          193                191                  189


                                                        Liverpool Street 1826

 In 1826 William Althorn became the licensee of the Kangaroo Inn and renamed it the Red Lion Inn and Gardens, but it reputation was still not improved and regarded as being where no man or beast should seek accommodation and was a drinking house only.


Althorn attempted to improve the Inn’s reputation, informed the gentry and public of the island of Tasmania:


‘that he has now completed his establishment for the reception of cattle and also horses to stand at Livery or otherwise upon the same terms and conditions as the Livery Stables in London. Having been many years as an assistant Riding Master in the Royal Artillery at Woolwich and having acquired a skilful veterinary knowledge, he flattered himself that his establishment will be found to be a great acquisition to Hobart town and its environs and a benefit to gentlemen who had valuable horse.’


There were also good beds, wine and other liquors to be had, and soup at any hour. [HTG 25 November 1826] Just how much improvements were carried out is not known but it did not seem to improve the reputation of the Red Lion Inn.


In September 1831 Charles Walker was granted the License for the Red Lion but was challenged in 1835 but the Licensing Board asCaptain Moriarty objected on the grounds that Mr Walker had been concerned in smuggling sprits, with Mr Morrisby, at Kangaroo Point. This wasdenied and the license was approved. Three years later Mr Walker attempted to transfer the license to a Mr Mercer Ludgater but this was refused as Mr Robert L Murray wrote to the authorities complaining that the license could not be transferred without his consent.


Richard Underwood and his wife Maria were the licensees of the Red Lion Inn from 1829 to 1831.


From 1832 till the 1840s the inn changed hands many times until in 1841 when it seems to have been rebuilt, during John Gray Coulson time.


In July 1850 the following appeared in the Hobart Town Courier.


‘ The house of Mr John Trump the red Lion in Liverpool Street, was visited by thieves on the afternoon of Sunday last, and a quantity of wearing apparel was stolen therefrom. The property in question was taken from the bedroom of the landlord, and it is supposed that the thieves must have gained access from the adjoining premises. The whole of the family were in the house at the time. Mr Trump offers a reward of ten pounds for the apprehension and conviction of the offenders’.


In August 1851 William Raines became the publican and on 19 February 1855 the Tasmanian Colonist reported:


‘Mr Raines of the Red Lion pleaded guilty to a charge of having opened his door at a quarter to eleven o’clock for the purpose of giving egress to two persons who had bought home some shoes. As there was no evidence that there had been any drink supplied Mr Symons at the suggestion of the Police Magistrate, withdrew the information and costs were remitted’.


In 1858 the land where the Red Lion was situated was owned by James A Thomson, it had a house, three houses with shops, as well as the Inn which was valued at 90 pounds. Behind the buildings were 7 small houses valued at 5 pounds each.

1858  Valuation Roll.


Liverpool Street between Harrington and Barrack Street.



189 Liverpool St. Owner  J. A. Thomson – W. Hicham occupier  house Red Line  5pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..           – unoccupied                                       5 pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..           – unoccupied                                       5 pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..           -          ..                                                 5 pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..          – unoccupied                                        5 pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..           -          ..                                                 5 pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..     -  Ann Burns occupier  house & shop     5 pounds

189        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..     – Charles Lee      ..            ..            ..       48 pounds

191        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..     – Wm Warren     ..     Red Lion Inn        90 pounds

193        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..     -  R. Stewart          ..     house and shop  36 pounds

195        ..         ..        ..           ..             ..     -   R. Alsebrook     ..         ..       ..      ..     36 pounds



In November 1855 William Warren took over from William James Raines and after his wife’s death he advertised the Red Lion to let with seven attached cottages in the Mercury 14 May 1860 p4c5.


Earlier in 1861 the premises were being enlarged for more accommodation.

And again in 1862:


To let property of J Hartwell (Mercury 19 April 1862 p1c3) Hartwell lost his license.


Again during the coming years the Red Lion Inn changed hands many times until in 1869 it was taken over by Patrick Armstrong O’Beirne and his wife Maria.  During their stay the inn was renamed the Club Tavern. On the 30 August 1870 Patrick and Maria were charged with receiving stolen goods, the property of Sir Frances Smith, the Chief Justice. This case was reported in the Mercury on the 6 September filling many columns.


The Inn in December 1871 was described as being: ‘Premises, very old and out of repair’.


Patrick O’Beirne applied for the license to be renewed in 1872 and it was granted. He died at the Club hotel on 30 March 1873 aged 43. There were 9 children in the family.


Maria attempted to run the pub but it was too much for her and a new license was applied for by James Henningan, but it was refused and the license was never renewed.





The Kangaroo Inn (later renamed the Red Lion) was amongst the first pubs licensed in Hobart Town, it was licensed in October 1820.


Being situated in that part of Liverpool Street is was regarded as a less respectful part of town, its reputation was never of a high standard but mainly regarded  from the start of its  54 years, as a inn being frequented by shady characters and often run by just as shady innkeepers. During its time as an inn it had 21 licensees some more respectable than others.


Being situated on the largest piece of land along that section of Elizabeth Street between Harrington and Barrack Street on the right hand side going away from the center of town would have seen the comings and goings of all types of characters. There was however an element of family life with some of the landlords and their wives having large families.


It is only from the later valuation rolls that we can view the sort of people who lived and worked there, fruiters, grocers, builders, cabinet makers, hair dressers, plumbers, boot-makers, butchers, blacksmiths, mostly working from their homes. A Mrs Grappen who was a feather cleaner lived next to the where the Red Lion had been in 1903. Before then the rolls give the number of the premises and the value. 


There were 10 pubs along this section with the remained of the buildings being houses and shops.


The Red Lion Inn appears to have first been a house before being licensed as a Inn in 1820, as early as 1825 it was referred to as being an old establishment with a Tanning business on the property. Fruit trees had flushed there for many years  still producing fruit.


From the maps I have studied I have been able to establish that the house (later inn) was situated in the centre of the land facing the road that was first granted to Robert L Murray.


By 1826 the yard had been improved to hold horses and cattle and the inn fitted out to accommodate the owners with beds and good food and wine.


The description of the 7 dwelling at the back, built of wattle and daub (still there in 1860) shows where these building were at the back of the house (see page 4)

There is a suggestion that the inn was rebuilt in 1840s but the value did not change except to decrease.


1858                       Inn                          90 pounds value

1860                       Inn                          80 pounds value

1867                       House                     54 pounds value

1872                       House                     50 pounds value

1877                       House                     45 pounds value

1879                       House                     45 pounds value

1903                       House                     30 pounds value

From drawings of the Red Lion by different artists it appears that the inn may have been a double story building and from the 1874 photo (see page 7) this could be correct. The Workman’s Club on the left close to the tree can be seen as a double story and the one next to it on the right would appear to have been the Red Lion.



The shifting of the term inn to house indicates that the Red Lion was more inclined to have been and still was a house during its occupation as an inn.



                      Red Lion Inn (Kangaroo Inn)


1820-1824                                          Thomas Dixon opened the Kangaroo Inn October 1820. One of Hobart’s earliest pub houses.


To let,/ that old established well-frequented  Inn. [Colonial Times 23&30 September 1825]



1826-1828                                          William Henry Althorn.

Kangaroo Inn renamed Red Lion 1827-8.



1829-1831                                          Richard Underwood & Maria Underwood.



1831-1836                                          Charles Walker & Catherine Walker.


Mr Walker accused of smuggling spirits with Mr Morrisby of Kangaroo Point.  Walker was to transfer license to Mercer Ludgater. Mr Robert L Murray representing himself as having an interest in the Red Lion which could not be transferred without his consent (1836) Charles Walked died and Catherine married John Jackson (next door) lands both under 3/70 on plans.


1838                                       Henry Paley granted license.



1841-1845                                          John Barton.  License for new house.


1845-1851                                          John Trump.


1851-1855                                          William James Raines (he also had the Hibeinian Inn)


1855-1861                                          William Warren (wife dies in child-birth 10 May 1860 )

 Red Lion & seven attached cottages to let, property of William Warren. [Mercury 14 May 1860 p4c5]


To Let property of J Hartwell . [Mercury 19 April 1862 p1c3]


1862- 1866                           John Gray Coulson (1862) & Harriett G Coulson (1863-66)

[Red Lion rebuilt c1841]

                                                John Coulson died 5 October 1863 at the Red Lion)

                                John Hartwell lost license (2 convictions) 1861. Premises

                                                were being enlarged for more accommodation.

                                                Harriett marries Stephen Berry.


1866-1868                                          Stephen Berry


1868-1869                                          George Webb (still Red Lion)



1869-1873                                          Patrick A O’Beirne & Maria O’Beirne.

Now known as Club Hotel. Patrick died Club Hotel

30 March 1873.


1874                                                          License not renewed


© Irene Schaffer 2008

[1] L mark for pounds

 See book list.