Royal Reels: Gambling


This purposely provocative title is an attention grabber, and yet another two names should be added to the title, but this would be cumbersome. The cover that prompted this paper had an unlikely history that follows. The cover was addressed to Mr. Hadley, Orient Hotel, Hobart, Tasmania and the two red ‘ONE PENNY SHIELD’ stamps of New South Wales were each cancelled with a copy of the ‘Rays 455′ of Murwillumbah which was confirmed by the circular postmark of MURWILLUMBAH/ FE 15/ 1905/ N.S.W. The reverse was not seen (Figure 1).

An advertising card for Hadley’s Orient Hotel , Hobart Tasmania, H.H. Hadley, Proprietor in 1934 was found, and it proudly proclaims HOT AND COLD WATER IN ALL BEDROOMS, Bedrooms with Private Bathrooms. Inclusive Bed and Breakfast Tariff. Terms on application, is seen in Figure 2.

The former Hadley’s Orient Hotel has a history section on its notable past which includes the following information: The Murray Street Hotel in Hobart dates back to 1834, when it was established as the Golden Anchor Inn, and has the longest continuing hotel license . It has played an integral part in Tasmanian and Australian history, noted in the Constitution minutes as the venue for meetings in Tasmania on the formation of the colony. It has also played host to a Royal wedding when local girl, Pauline Curran, married exile Russian noble, Prince Maximillian Melikoff.   Many famous Australian and international guests including Tasmania’s famous son Errol Flynn (movie actor), entrepreneur Henry Jones (‘King of Jam’) and (antarctic) explorers Australian Douglas Mawson as well as Norwegian Roald Amundsen, who boyh make a note of Hadleys in their memoirs.

The current building was built by convict labour and began trading as the Marquis of Waterford in 1849, later to be known as Webb’s Hotel after being purchased by a pardoned convict, John Webb.  He was sent to Van Dieman’s Land for housebreaking and following his release he became the official caterer to Government House – hence the hotel’s rich tradition in hospitality was born. Webb’s reputation as a caterer spread quickly and the hotel drew many of the town’s fashionable citizens during the late 1850’s, looking for entertainment.

Ever the entrepreneur, Webb improved the Hotel and even developed an icehouse on Mt. Wellington from which he carted the ice twice a day. He also added innovations like a ballroom and ice-skating rink at the rear of the hotel. The hotel’s social prominence was highlighted in 1861 when the Tasmanian Club made its headquarters at the hotel. After Webb’s death in 1891 John Clay Hadley bought the hotel and renamed it Hadley’s Orient Hotel . He obtained a liquor license on January 16, 1887 and Howard Henry Hadley, the recipient of the cover, obtained a liquor license on 26 November, 1901. The Hadley family operated the hotel for 55 years bringing a range of innovations including electric lights in every room and telephones on every floor. They also installed one of Australia’s first electric elevators. A picture of Hadley’s Orient Hotel is seen in Figure 3.

After falling into disrepair in the 1980’s the hotel was purchased by the Doherty’s in 1999 and has undergone major refurbishment to restore it to its former grandeur.

Another source supplied additional information about the well known guests who included Prince Alfred of England in 1868, Princess Melikoff (the local girl mentioned above) and particularly Roald Amundsen. After returning from the South Pole in March 1912, he stayed at the Hadley’s Orient Hotel in rooms 201 and 202. These rooms are now known as the Amundsen Suite, and his photograph hangs above the bed in which he slept.

David McNamee in his ‘Catalogue and Handbook of Tattersall’s Covers (2006)’ page 83 shows a cover sent from P.B. Fitzgerald, 173 Charles St. Launceston to the Manager, Hadley’s Hotel, on September 22, 1903, the pair of the 2d Tasmanian pictorial paying the double-weight Letter rate.( Figure 4).

P.B.Fizgerald was an agent for Tatterstall’s Sweeps, collecting money from customers and forwarding requests fo tickets in their names, thus allowing consolidation of mail on both ends of the network. MacNamee gives more information on Hadley and Hadley’s Orient Hotel, which was at 34-38 Murray Street next door to George Adams’ solicitors, Finlay and Watchorn. Hadley’s hotel is also where Adams spent his first weeks in Tasmania while arranging the lottery on the Van Diemen’s Land real estate assets. As a fellow hotel owner and publican, Adams undoubtedly made friends with Hadley, and Hadley was an early alias address used by customers as far away as the United States. He goes on to list 10 different alias addresses for the Orient Hotel, and the addressee was variously named J. Hadley (probably John Clay Hadley), H. Hadley (probably Howard Henry Hadley), Sid Hadley, and also as Proprietor, without the Hadley name.

A great story about a historical hotel and its prestigious clientele. I would be delighted to hear from present day Hadley family members, especially from Tasmania.

Addendum (May 2011): An obituary for Mr. H.H. Hadley appeared in The Mercury (Hobart) on Thursday, 21 September 1944, page 4, who for more than 40 years was proprietor of Hadley’s Hotel. He died at Orford on Tuesday aged 84 years. He was known throughout Australia and New Zealand. He was born at Bendigo, Victoria and educated there. After conducting a hardware business in Sydney he took over on his fathers  (John Clay Hadley) death in 1893 control of the hotel in Hobart, and remained proprietor until 1935 when he went to live at Melbourne with his son, Dr. Kenneth Hadley. Three years later he returned to Tasmania and lived with his nephew, Mr. E.T. Boddam, at Orford. 

He was a trans-Derwent swimmer, a keen angler, a member of the Royal Hobart Bowling Club, and a member of Operative Masonic Lodge. In 1897 he married Miss Agnes Hall, of Brisbane, who died in 1925.  He is survived by his sons, Dr. K. Hadley, Dr. Robert Hadley, also of Melbourne, and Lt. Howard Hadley, AIF.  Former close friends and associates assembled at the crematorium service at Cornelian Bay.

Several times it had been noted that 3 family members had been proprietors of the Orient Hotel, and they were his father, Henry himself, and his nephew E.T. Boddam, whose name as proprietor is noted as the lowest line, at lower left in the advertisement, seen in Figure 5.

Addendum: Another cover was seen, this time addressed to Syd (sic) Hadley, Orient Hotel, Hotel Hobart Tasmania. The blue 2d N.S.W. stamp was canceled with an illegible barred numeral and there was a Type 2 (i) circular postmark of STANNUM/ ()NO 1905. N.S.W. This was the earliest recorded date, previously 1907-34 (Figure 6).

A picture of Mr. H.H. Hadley was found belatedly in the Cyclopedia of Tasmania (1900) and is shown as Figure 7.