The story of The Downs begins in 1844 when a group of locals persuaded Thomas Alford to obtain a limited licence to sell alcohol. This he did creating “The Downs Inn” in July 1844. The limited licence was then upgraded to a Publican’s Licence in June 1845. Early maps show that this building was located in what is now the carpark of Woolworths. 70 yards to the South West of where the Bulls Head was to be built and the Museum is now.
In November 1845 the Licence and building were transferred to 21 year old Stephen Meehan, who owned a store next door to the Inn. While the name remained The Downs Inn, it was colloquially known as Meehan’s Pub for many years. Reports are that Stephen liked to travel, while the Police, who were also the Licencing Inspectors, preferred that Publicans remained at the pubs. So, in November 1851 Stephen sold the Lease on the Inn to his brother David. A copy of the transfer shows Stephen and a local migrant-employment agent by the name of Edward Lord each providing a Surety (Bond) of £50-.
David did well in the business till he ran afoul of the law in 1856. He was fined £1- for allowing his brother to play his flute on Hotel premises, and £2- for allowing betting on premises. A big change to what is allowed now a days! Following this incident David sold the Lease David Mason. David renamed the hotel to “The Boomerang Hotel” after the ship on which he had been Chief Steward. Unfortunately, David passed away in October 1957. The Lease was taken up by Ann Meehan, Stephen’s wife.
On 16 February 1858 the original hotel burned down. A new building was rebuilt on the site, but Stephen Meehan used it as a General Store. The hotel was moved to it’s current location, renamed “The Downs Hotel” and reopened in October 1858, a scant 8 months after it was burnt down. Life could move fairly quickly when it needed to.
Stephen Meehan took back control of the hotel in March 1860 while still running the General Store. He died on 8 July 1861 aged only 37. The Licence briefly passed on to William Gurney until it was taken over by Bridget Maria Meehan in 1862.
The history from here we are still researching. We do know that it changed it’s name to “The Farmer’s Home” in in 1880 and back to “The Downs Hotel” in 1881. Obviously a failed experiment. But we have a continuous record of publicans from Thomas Alford in 1844 to Dan Cullen in 1900. Believe it or not, it is proving harder to research the list of Publicans after this date, partially due to corporations being allowed to be registered as Publicans.
Please inspect our copies of historic documents and graphical summaries of the information we have found to date.