Tag Archives: Redbanks

Charles Tilley: The man behind the hotel

by Amy Wilson

The Seven Stars Hotel site is located in the small township of Redbanks, in a red lentil field north of the Mallala-Gawler Road intersection. At first glance you would never know a hotel existed on the site. There are few surviving records of the hotel that provided food, accommodation and entertainment for the traveling shearers and miners coming to and from Burra. The land was owned by Edward Armand Wright, who leased it to Charles Tilley for 10½ years at £1000 a year.  Tilley built the hotel from local limestone and timber in 1865 and purchased the entire property in 1872 once his lease was finished (Mallala Museum 2012).

Although not much is known about the hotel, Charles Tilley is mentioned in a couple of interesting newspaper articles – both involving deaths.  A letter to the South Australian Register (28 October 1879) written by Edward Boothby from Two Wells, defends Tilley against accusations by the press and local community that William Hillier died from excessive drinking in his [Tilley’s] public-house. Boothby explains that Tilley not only provided good accommodation at moderate prices but also supplied water to the public and took it upon himself to sink another well at the cost of £50.

On the topic of Mr. Tilley’s wells, The Bunyip writes an article in the Mount Gambier Border Watch (11 December 1872) newspaper commenting on the ‘distressing disaster resulting from uncovered tanks and wells, of which we have of late had to record so many’, referring to the death of Charles Tilley’s 10 year old son. On a stormy and intensely dark night, Tilley sent his son inside for a lighted lantern but he never returned. After inquiring with a hotel guest, the boy had not been seen and a search of the hotel revealed his son’s body floating dead in an open tank. The Bunyip asks “Why cannot the settlers of South Australia take common precautions as they do in England to guard against the loss of life by such means?”

These small passages give us a glimpse of the man behind the hotel and the thoughts of the people who frequented the public-house or knew about its reputation. The Seven Stars Hotel was not only important for traveling workers and those seeking employment in the hotel, but it was also a meeting place for committees, of which Tilley was often a member.  I like to think of Charles Tilley as not only a businessman and a hard worker, but as a man who truly cared about his customers.

References:

1872 ‘A REMARKABLE DREAM.’, Border Watch (Mount Gambier, SA : 1861 – 1954), 11 December, p. 4, viewed 5 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article77128452

1869 ‘BRIDGE MEETING AT REDBANKS.’, South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), 30 July, p. 3, viewed 5 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article41404964

1886 ‘Family Notices.’, South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), 15 January, p. 4, viewed 5 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article50183580

1879 ‘MR. TILLEY’S HOTEL AT REDBANKS.’, South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 – 1900), 28 October, p. 6, viewed 3 October, 2012, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article43089285

19th century stoneware bottleneck, site of The Seven Stars Hotel. (Photo by Amy Wilson)

2012 Now and Then: Mallala, Seven Stars Hotel. Mallala Museum: South Australia. Viewed on 4 October 2012 <http://mallala.nowandthen.net.au/index.php?title=Seven_Stars_Hotel&gt;

Cycle in the Paddocks of Red Banks

Trudging back and forth across endless metres of the bare, sun-baked, Redbanks paddock, hunters scour the ground for treasures scattered across its surface to be flagged. Others stand by their tools and instruments retrieving the treasures already identified. As the hours pass by the hunters continue their search for the lost Seven Stars Hotel, recording every action and discovery to add to their treasure maps, in the hopes that they will be guided towards their prize, all the while being worn down by the unrelenting sun and flies. Finally as the sun begins to set the hunters scramble to return to their camp, eager to escape the patch of dirt where they have toiled since the early hours of the morning.

Trudging across the Redbanks paddock.
Photo courtesy of Jessica Lumb.

Upon arriving back at the camp, some move off to wash away the pain of the day beneath water, while other sidle off to wash away the pain by emptying glasses at the pub. As night sets in, most would think that the hunters, after having spent around nine hours working outdoors, battling sun, dirt and flies, would retire to their beds and recuperate, ready for the burden of the following day. But instead they gather in the meeting room and arrange themselves around the long table and begin the task of arranging what they have recorded during the day. Once again these hunters take up their instruments and tools and push on into the night. Eventually the group comes to a consensus and then in gradual waves, so as to not leave a comrade behind, they break away to collapse into their tents, to catch a few hours sleep before repeating the process all over again.

Working into the night.
Photo courtesy of Sam Deer.

For a week this routine continues until by the end, the hunters, or archaeologists as they should be called, collected around 1000 artefacts and mapped their scatter across the north-western corner of that Redbanks paddock.