Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Kapunda – “The Hallway To Hell”



Kapunda – “The Hallway To Hell”

 
Interior of the Hallway to Hell - photo by Karen Tiller
If you’ve heard the term “Hallway to Hell” then most likely, you’ve seen Haunting: Australia episode 7: The North Kapunda Hotel, an episode that almost didn’t happen. Originally the production company was looking towards Western Australia for two episode, but when I proposed South Australia, particularly the Adelaide Arcade and Kapunda, the most haunted town in Australia, they changed their minds and went with local knowledge and a hometown story.
 If you didn’t hear about the Hallway, through Haunting: Australia, then maybe you heard about due to the Ghost Crime Tour that Karen and I brought to Kapunda. The majority of ghost tour companies in this State were too scared to touch Kapunda after all the controversy with the Warwick Moss documentary that aired in 2001, and the unaired documentary that was filmed a few years later – let me tell you, the townsfolk still haven’t forgotten who was involved!
 
 Karen and I knew that there was a right way to introduce the town to having a ghost tour, so we set up a meeting between the owners of GCT and the  Light Council, and got the ball rolling. We then invited townsfolk to see what it was all about, we introduced donations to help repair the damaged cemeteries, and slowly, the Kapunda Ghost Crime Tour was not only accepted by the Kapunda Community, but local business began to see a knock on effect from tourism.
 During our time as tour guides, Karen and I entertained Government Ministers, tourists from England who had seen the TV show, visitors from Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, and right across Australia. We did our best to keep it factual, entertaining and spooky, and to promote the town that everyone forgets!

 No-one is quite sure what year this wing of the North Kapunda hotel was built, but it is estimated to be somewhere between 1848 and 1855. It may have been earlier than 1848 though and built as part of the workers accommodation around the town by the North Kapunda Mining Company. The same company built the original structure that became the North Kapunda Arms Hotel, that in 1865, Mr Crase would build his new hotel around, and reopen as the North Kapunda Hotel.
Behind the scenes photo of Haunting: Australia - photo Karen Tiller
 The downstairs section of the hallway in 1865 contained the first official office of the newly formed Kapunda Council, until they moved to bigger premises on the Clare Road. There were also two large, ornate rooms used by Jenkins and Coles bursars who dealt with the horse sales that were held at the rear of the hotel.
During the late 1880’s, the upstairs section of the hallway was known as “The Bachelor’s Hall”, the following is a poem penned about it by one of its inhabitants 

Bachelor's Hall.
By H. C. DODGE.
Hurrah ! hurrah for Bachelor's Hall;
The Queen's away and I'm monarch of all;
I don't have to hang up my coat or my hat,
And when I get lonely I talk to the cat.
I come when I like, and I go when I choose.
The finest cigars help me scatter the blues;
 No bundles I carry and nothing I buy;
There's no one to care about-only big “I”
 I revel in wildest confusion around;
There isn't a thing in its place to be found;
 My books and newspapers, they litter the room
That' hasn't for weeks seen the sight of a broom.
There's clothing or something on every chair;
My bed's never made, but it's little I care;
I sleep like a top, for there's no one to call
I take solid comfort in Bachelor's Hall.
I've used all the dishes and now it's my fate
To eat, when I'm home, on the back of a plate;
I'm learning to cook, but, alas. I confess
I choose to go hungry than, swallow the mess.
But, Bachelor's Hall with its comfort and quiet,
Is almost too spooky for regular diet;
No children live in it to welcome their dad,
No supper is waiting, no wife-O, so glad.
No! Nothing but ghosts of the loved ones away
Inhabit this tomb where alone I must stay,
Compelled to break silence by having a chat
With my woeful companion, the strange acting cat.
O, gladly I'll yield my crown sceptre and all
The Kingly delights of a Bachelor's Hall
To the Queen of the Home when she comes with her train
To wisely and lovingly over me reign.
First Published in The Kapunda Herald - Tuesday 7 August 1888, page 6

The Bachelor’s Hall saw its own scandal in the 1885 when three of its inhabitants found themselves facing the magistrate at the Kapunda Courthouse for disturbing the peace.
 Murray Thomson, Robert Anderton and James Shakes Jnr. Faced the magistrate on May 12th, with Thomson and Anderton represented by Mr Glynn, and Shakes represented by Mr Benham.
 The men had been charged because someone had been firing guns in Franklin Street at about 10 past three in the morning.
Exterior - Hallway To Hell - Kapunda - photo: Allen Tiller
 The evening of the event, many people had been in town to see the bellringers entertainment, and had then retired to the North Kapunda Hotel for a supper put on by Mr Crase, which included entertainment including sing-alongs and speeches. The bar itself was closed, but the party went on in the commercial room and on the balcony.
 More than 125 gun shots were heard in Franklin Street in about a 10 minute time frame. The police tried to frame the defendants as being the guilty parties, but witnesses declared they had seen Mr Thomson in a room upstairs, light a candle and look out the window in his night clothes at the ongoing disturbance below.
 Mr Shakes wasn’t even within the town boundaries when the incident happened, so the case fell apart, instead, the Magistrate went after Mr Crase, under the guise of the act happening outside his hotel, he would be responsible for the people there. Mr Benham quickly shot down this argument as Mr Crase was entertaining upstairs privately, and may not have known who these people were, nor had they been inside his hotel drinking.
 The case was eventually thrown out of court.
Interior - Hallway to Hell - Kapunda - photo: Karen Tiller
 Interestingly though, the story that circulated through the town was slightly different to the story that surfaced in court. It would seem a number of young men had been drinking in the hotels, and had gone to the bellringers event. After the event they began walking the town trying to entertain themselves. 
 About 15 of these young men were heard in Main Street, and were asked to move on by William Thomas when they congregated in front of his bookshop, it was within the next hour the gun shots occurred in Franklin Street, which may have come about because these young men were refused entry in the North Kapunda Hotel.