Monday, March 30, 2009

Pubs of the Past - Lochiel's Sergeant at Arms Inn

Back in the days of the Kiandra gold rush, many far south coast settlers saw an opportunity to make their own wealth. They moved quickly, setting business serving the diggers travelling to and from the new gold field. Just one was Armstrong McCausland who opened his Sergeant at Arms Inn at Lochiel at the height of the rush.

From the records available, Armstrong McCausland had settled on his Lochiel property as early as 1847. John Lambie noted in his itineraries on June 27 that year that Mr. McCausland was superintending his own holding with seven people resident on the property, which featured two huts and a stockyard. Stock included 350 head of cattle and seven horses. Mr. Lambie mentioned that Armstrong McCausland also had the station known as “Bermagua” (Bermagui).

The first reference to the Sergeant's Inn occurs in the Twofold Bay and Maneroo Telegraph of August 17, 1860, when a correspondent noted “Three miles and a half further [from the Roan Horse Inn] brought me to an excellent house of accommodation, recently erected; a good dinner which I relished and a courteous and obliging host whom I enjoyed, in the person of Mr McCausland, a man perhaps better known under the cognomen of “The Sergeant”. McCausland is an old inhabitant of the district and an honest and worthy fellow, who perceiving the capital opening made by the rush to Kiandra, for good houses of accommodation, has taken the opportunity of opening this new house in a style of comfort and elegance that will insure his success…”

The NSW Government Gazette of that year reported that Mr. A. McCausland had been granted a publican's license for his hotel, named Sergeant's Inn, which was located on the Eden - Manaroo Road. In September the Twofold Bay and Maneroo Telegraph announced that amongst the seven publican’s licenses granted for the district was Armstrong McCausland's for the Sergeant’s Inn. An 1860 map also shows the premises as being situated on what was then the main inland route.


Armstrong McCausland's Sergeant at Arms Inn at Lochiel, near Pambula.

Eden’s annual licensing court of April 1861 granted a renewal of McCausland’s license, which, according to the report, was referred to as being located at “Sergeant’s Creek”. The same year, a newspaper article commented “At Sergeant’s Creek, there are several small farms. This is near McCausland’s I think.” Further references are made to “Sergeant’s Creek” when Mr. McCausland made slaughtering license applications in 1862, 1864 and 1866. Although no maps have been located which make specific mention to this location, it is likely that this refers to the portion of the Pambula River later known as “Cole’s Crossing”.

In 1867, Armstrong McCausland gave evidence in a hearing at the Pambula Court House, stating “I am an innkeeper at Lochiel”, while his name and hotel keepers occupation appears on an Official Post Office Directory of the same year. During an 1868 hearing at the Eden District Court, McCausland gave his occupation as publican and storekeeper.

Armstrong McCausland was active in the local community and provided surity for at least four different post masters serving the Pambula district - Syms Covington in 1854, Syms Covington Jnr in 1861, J. H. Bennett in 1865 and C. H. Baddeley in 1872. McCausland stated that part of his reason for agreeing to provide these surities was his reliance on the postal system to do his business, commenting in an 1871 letter to the Post Master General "…As I believe I have a greater correspondence than any single person from Eden to Bombala, I feel interested in a proper person to the appointment of Post Master…"

By the mid-1860's, the hotel was being referred to as the Sergeant At Arms and it has been claimed that this was due to Mr. McCausland service in the police force. However, no record has been found of him ever having served in the force. An article in a local newspaper written by a friend of Mr. McCausland dismissed this idea, stating “…McCausland was never in the police, but he got the sobriquet in consequence of his erect soldier-like carriage when a young man.”

His publican’s license is recorded as having been renewed in September 1871 and in December that year, the inn was mentioned in the metropolitan media with the comment “...I arrived at Lochiel, a small village containing two blacksmiths shops...; an hotel familiarly known as the Sergeant's Inn (the proprietor Mr. McCausland being "the Sergeant") and a half time school...” An October 1872 return of publican’s licenses notes Armstrong McCausland’s Sergeant’s Arms at Sergeant’s Creek, and the same year he is listed in Greville’s Post Office Directory as an innkeeper at Lochiel. This occupation is also noted when he provided surity for C. H. Baddeley as local postmaster in 1872, 1875 and 1878. Greville’s Official Post Office Directory lists him as an innkeeper at Lochiel in 1975-76 and his Lochiel residence remains unchanged in 1878.

The following year he passed away at Sergeant’s Creek, Lochiel at 70 years of age. The Bega Standard commented on the event, stating “Mr Armstrong McCausland, a very old resident in this district, died this week at his resident, Lochiel, near Panbula. The deceased has been breaking up for the last year or so, and has succumbed to the universal enemy at a good old age. He was generally known as “the sergeant”…He had amassed a considerable property in the district and was looked on as one of our wealthiest men.”

McCausland enjoyed a close relationship with the Covington family and it is possible that Walter Covington operated the inn for a brief period after his demise. Although no record has been found of Covington holding the license, oral recollections claim that he operated the business briefly and he is listed as residing at Lochiel in 1879. Nonetheless, by the time the licenses were granted in September 1880, the Sergeant at Arms would appear to have closed.

The original building still stands today on the property now named "Cobandrah".

© Angela George.

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