According to the book, "One Day in Collie", the Colliefields Hotel was the first hotel to be built in Collie and was established by Mr Tom Carrig. It was originally built on the other side of the road and we have been informed that it was moved because of consistent flooding. It consisted of a small iron and weatherboard construction, large enough for "the necessities of a pub, a bar and a billiard table" We have been told by the WA Heritage Commission that the hotel was started in the tent across the road from the current site. We're still learning the history of what was a grand old building and if you have any information or pictures of the hotel, we'd love to see them and learn more. We are trying to find a gentleman who called in some time ago and said he had a framed picture of the first Colliefields Hotel which had the history written on it. If you know this person, please ask him to contact us as we would love to have that history as a part of the hotel.
"One Day in Collie" states that, "The first 'civic' meeting was an impromptu affair in 1897. Mr Tom Carrig, sitting outside his tent watching the two carpenters who were constructing his hotel 'The Colliefields', no doubt in pensive mood, called to order a meeting of the 'First Progress Association'. Tom outlined his progressive ideas - one of the carpenters moved a proposition accordingly, unanimously." It goes on later to say that "The first civic institution initiated and operated as a local body was the Coalfield Progress Committee. It began on a more official premise than Tom Carrig's earlier motivations, but was noticeably held at the same venue, the Colliefields Hotel. A public meeting held there in 1898 determined that a body of twelve persons should be elected to make up the Committee, with eighteen nominations immediately submitted."
The hotel has played a strong role in Collie's history and many other firsts, originated at or from outside the front of the Colliefields. For instance, the first recorded meeting of the Salvation Army was held outside the Colliefields Hotel in 1897.
The hotel was expanded as seen in this picture of the hotel while under the management of Mr F.W. Crowe.
On March 25 1902 there was a disastrous fire, which razed the building to the ground. Mr A Krakouer was the lessee at the time. According to The West Australian, the hotel "was the first structure of any pretensions to be erected in the town." and "Had it not been that there was no wind at the time, nothing would have prevented the adjoining block of buildings from being totally destroyed." The new building was magnificent as you can see from this picture, which is of the first hunt meeting outside the Colliefields Hotel.
We have been told that some of the ballustrading was only sold about two years prior to our renovations commencing. Do you know where it is? We'd love to be able to get even a small piece of it or a cast of it as we are hoping to reinstate these balconies in future stages of our renovations.
Destruction between the Crown and the Colliefields
On the Saturday evening of May 22 1909, at Smith's Tailoring establishment, an even worse fire struck Throssell Street. The West Australian printed that "Owing to the poor pressure of water, the brigade was unable to stay the progress of the fire, which in less than an hour destroyed the building in which it had originated and also the five adjoining shops, occupied by G.W. Hartley, grocer; C. F. Bond, chemist; R. Waters, baker and confectioner; Glariss, fishmonger; and E. Reynoldson, furniture dealer and ironmonger."
The article goes on to say that "In the meantime, the next shops, occupied by E. Watts, newsagent, and the Ezywalkin Boot Company, were pulled down to prevent the fire spreading further." This picture shows the side of the Colliefields Hotel, with all the buildings between it and the Crown totally destroyed.
Through the Years
Colliefields Hotel in the 30's
This picture shows the hotel in 1940 prior to the removal of the gorgeous balcony. We originally thought that the balcony was removed by the same architect who designed the Raffles Hotel and who made changes to many hotels around WA. We believe he was responsible for putting the green tile on, which was supposed to replicate the lovely green glass tile that was very popular in the art deco period. Unfortunately - the cheaper variety was not as nice. We have however, uncovered some lovely examples of art deco ceiling roses and cornices in the old dining room, which we have recently restored.
The 21st Century
Over the years, the Colliefields Hotel fell into disrepair. It has become obvious through our renovations that previous building owners have done the bare minimum of maintenance, if any, for a very long time. The hotel was bought in 2001 by Nancy Hall and was closed for business in late 2002. We have even been told that Nancy ran girls in the place after being closed. In 2007 she was taken to the Collie Hospital by police and subsequently committed and diagnosed with long term Bipolar and Schizophrenia. She had 15 dogs and 7 pups holed up in the hotel with her at the time. Nancy died six months later from a deep vein thrombosis as the anti-psychotics shut down her system and restricted her movements.
The New - The Colliefields
In 2009, Gary and Michélè gained control of the hotel and having already spent countless hours cleaning the place out, tried to come up with a plan for the building that was in keeping with its historical significance to the town. The first plan was to turn it into apartments, but we were told there were too many apartments, so we went back to the drawing board. In 2011, a five stage plan was approved to reinstate the accommodation part of the business and turn the former bars into a Brasserie and Gourmet Provedore, showcasing local products and produce. The plans also include turning the former Back Bar into two equal access self-contained units and finally, to demolish the old store-room and rear toilets and build two, three-level terrace houses, extending the new balconies around the entire front of the building - to give a look similar to that of the original hotel.
The first three stages are now all but complete. We still have some little tweaks, but we expect that to be ongoing anyway as there will always be ways to improve.