Thursday, December 4, 2008

The hotel with no “tea”

Avondale Hotel in the 1880s. From a print copy of a photo held at Special Collections, Auckland Public Libraries, ref. A3039.

The following comes from the Te Aroha News, 13 March 1886. The "Mr. Bayley" referred to is John Brayley, publican at Avondale from February 1884 to May 1886.

Complaints have frequently been received by the police from various travellers that the licensees of some country hotels, and also some that are situated in the city, are not particularly eager to carry out the provisions of the Licensing Act and supply victuals only to wayfarers when required. At length an opportunity arrived when action might be taken.

A gentleman named Daniel Shea Lawlor gave information at the police-station that he had been refused tea at the Avondale Hotel. The case was at once taken up, and on 9th April the licensee, Mr. John Bayley, appeared at the Police Court, and the case was heard before Messrs Moat and King, Justices. Mr. Cotter appeared for the defendant, and pleaded not guilty.

Sergeant Gamble stated that on the evening of the 19th of February a gentleman named Daniel Shea Lawlor went to defendant's hotel at Avondale, and having travelled from Henderson, he asked to be supplied with tea, meaning the evening meal. He was informed that it could not be provided, but afterwards was offered some bread and meat. As he did not wish to partake of liquors, the informant was compelled to go to a private house in the neighbourhood in order to obtain his tea. This of course, was a serious matter, as the licenses were really granted the hotels not for the purpose of selling intoxicants, but in order that travellers might be provided with accommodation. He might further state that numerous complaints had reached the police regarding the defendant having been previously guilty of similar offences.

Daniel Shea Lawlor deposed that on the 19th of February he arrived as a traveller at the Avondale Hotel about seven' o'clock in the evening. He saw Mr. Bayley, the landlord, and signified his intention of staying the night, and also having tea. This was refused, the licensee saying that he was then too late, but he offered bread and meat and beer. This witness refused, as he was just recovering from a severe illness, and his stomach was rather low. Witness further stated that he had reminded the landlord of his duties under the Act, but Mr. Bayley persistingly refused to supply tea. His manner was offensive, although his language was not offensive. Witness went to the stable where his horse was feeding in order to escape the abuse of the landlord, but Mr. Bayley followed him and demanded payment for the horse's feed before it had finished, and threatened to retain the saddle and bridle unless it was paid forthwith. He was therefore compelled to pay at once, and then retired to the house of a settler, where he obtained the tea that he required as a restorative.

In the morning he returned to the hotel and got his breakfast, but not until he had, in colonial parlance, "worked the crack" with the landlord. By Mr. Cotter: He had told Mr. Bollard that the place was extremely dirty. Had said that there was an island of dirt on the table when he had his breakfast at the hotel next morning. That was, of course, comparatively speaking. Mr. John Bollard stated that he considered the house was very well conducted. He had been on the Licensing Bench for the last 3 years, and they had never received a complaint against the house. Sergeant Gamble stated that another witness had been summoned, but had been unable to attend owing to ill-health.

Mr. Cotter contended that the case had broken down as the Act stipulated that the licensee of a hotel must provide "lodgings, meals, and accommodation," therefore the word "tea" was not mentioned. The other had all been offered to the informant, but he practically said: "All the world is naught to me unless I get my cup of tea." The Bench said that they considered the charge had not been sustained, and the case would therefore be dismissed. If the house was not properly conducted, then it was a case for the local Licensing Committee to deal with.

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