The Union Hotel
Located on Waymouth Street in Adelaide's CBD, The Union Hotel first opened its doors in 1845 as the Union Inn. The UnionHotel has been a popular place for ,many years, but did face the prospect of demolition at one point, only to rebound and become one of Adelaide's premier nightspots.
Although not paranormal it is interesting to note the colourful past of the Hotel and its licensees and patrons.
In 1849, a young man, Mr Creech imported a Bengal Tiger into Adelaide and began to show it at events in the city.
The tiger was caged at the back of the Union Hotel and Mr Creech charged a fee of sixpence to see it.
The tiger is described in the “South Australian” ( Friday 25 May 1849 ) newspaper as follows:
Union Inn, Weymouth-street. We paid the royal stranger a visit on Monday, and it certainly struck us as a curiosity-we do not remember to have seen one of the kind in any English collection. It is jet black, and very wild, not large, but evidently of immense muscular power. Its appetite is ravenous and savage, as an unfortunate cat, an involuntary intruder in its cage, we quickly experienced. The brute with a single stroke of its paw literally smashed its visitor, and greedily swallowed the blood; the carcase, however, of Grimalkin it rejected, perhaps on the score of relationship. We believe Mr Creech intends shipping his unique purchase to London or Sydney. In the former place, it would no doubt realise a good price”
Unfortunately for Mr Creech, his Tiger brought about his arrest, and gaol, when a duck being kept by the hotel landlord, Mr Herring, poked its head through a hole in the tiger's cage, and subsequently lost it.
Mr Creech was charged and fined 3/6d, and sentenced to time in Gaol for the offence, the tiger was eventually sold.
Mr Herring, the former owner of the Union Hotel, has been witnessed in spirit in the building on occasion.
Mr John Michael Herring, a London builder who emigrated to Australia, first established the Union Inn in 1845 and soon sold the license of the pub to an employee, Mr Charles Oaty in 1846. In 1848, Mr Herring reacquired the Hotel from Mr Oaty.
Mr Herring suffered a blow to the head after swerving to miss a child whilst driving down Rundle Street, he was thrown from his cart and collided head first into the pavement, unfortunately, his actions did not spare the life of the child he was trying to avoid. Mr Herring was carried back to the Union Inn, where he died, aged 64. (South Australian Register Wednesday 4 February 1852, page 2 )
Mr Herring is often seen as a ghost in the Hotel, dressed in attire attributed to an officer in the English Army, of which he had served before coming to Australia.
Also to die in the hotel was one Ewan Davidson, a local labourer, who had been enjoying some drinks with friends on Wednesday the 16th August 1848. After his friends left, Ewan stood and walked past the tap-room, falling seven feet down the staircase, head first into the Kitchen, where he struck his head.
Davidson's death was reported 3 days later in “The South Australian Register” as; "Mr Davidson, aged 29, died of extravasation of blood on some part of the brain within the skull”.
On the 14 January 1876, Mr George Isaacs died in the cellar of the Union Hotel from complications of an illness he had been suffering. Mr Isaacs was well known writer using the non-de-plume “Pendragon”. He wrote a novel and a number of satires that were very successful in his time, he was also one of the founders of the Gawler Humbug Society.
The Union Hotel reports frequent paranormal activity and is considered one of Adelaide's premier locations for witnessing something from the other side.
Mr Herring has been seen standing near the dance floor in the upstairs “polo room” dressed in his full British Army regalia on numerous occasions.
Often the kitchen staff report cold spots and shadows, items disappearing and odd crashing sound, could this be the spirit of Ewan Davidson returning, or stuck, in the place he died?
In the cellar, often a feeling of being watched is felt, and a cough heard when no-one else is present, is this Mr Isaacs making his presence known?
One cannot be certain, but the historical fact of deaths in the Union Hotel can be cited to begin to build a case for the hauntings and phenomena reported.
© 2013 Allen Tiller
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