Built in 1882 in Port 'Misery', this building has had quite a colorful history as a bordello, boarding house, offices and a hotel serving the dock workers, as well as those entering and leaving the port.
At the time Port Adelaide was a thriving settlement having being chosen as the site for South Australia's main port only about twenty years before. Some saw this as a strange decision and having the States Port and Capital City (Adelaide) separate was strongly opposed. Regardless Colonel William Light, the states Surveyor General stuck to his decision and 'Port Misery' as it was affectionately known was founded.
With the steady patronage of sailors, dock workers/stevedores, train passengers and locals the Dock Hotel was regularly packed to the rafters. In 1882 plans for the construction of a new hotel on the location were drawn up and tenders called in. The new two storied hotel included several bars, fifteen rooms, a dining room, several entrances and the cellar. It was built from Dry Creek Stone coupled with a cement dressing (the previous building was made from ships ballast stone).
Mr Joseph Haines was the publican on the hotel prior to the rebuild and stayed as publican until about 1904. During that time he had many interesting experiences including almost being shot over a drink.
Assault, Death and Fire
Hope then showed a desire to fight Mr Haines but Mr Haines just told him it would be a good idea to take himself and the horse back from where they came from. After some foul language and a threat Hope remounted his horse and was off.
About fifteen minutes later he was back again and entered the hotel demanding a drink. Haine refused, telling hope that he had had enough to which Hope pulled out a loaded revolver, pointed it at Haines and said 'If you don't serve me I'll shoot you with this'. Haines simply grabbed Hope's wrist and disarmed him, called for the constable and Hope was taken off and sentenced to two months imprisonment with hard labour.
Haines was always seen as a stand up fellow who had a clean record and any testimony received from him in the courts was always seen as right. Haines was called into court to give witness statements as Todd Street was a rough sort of area. There has been quite a number of fatalities through beatings and stabbings along the street and Haines was witness to more than one.
Maybe it was Haines being such a good standing citizen and businessman that saw his hotel survive through a rather nasty fire on Todd Street in 1903. 'Johnny Allsorts', a wood and iron shop went up in a savage fire that totally destroyed the business. The local fire brigade was called in at about 12:43am but the business was not able to be saved. Several other businesses close by also suffered fire damage yet the Dock Hotel just across a narrow alleyway only suffered a few cracked and blackened windows.
Perhaps the good lord was looking over him?
The hotel reopened in 1986 as the Port Dock Brewery Hotel. In the years between the building saw itself used as a Boarding House, a Stevedores Office and a Bordello.
The Ghosts of the Port Dock
Most of the witnesses have seen 'Emily' on the first floor landing, others through reflections in windows or metallic objects. She is overly made up as was the style for the bordello's madame at the time yet through the make-up one can see a sad expression on her face.
Another of the resident ghosts is that of a old sea captain who haunts the underfloor cellars. It is said he is looking for his mate. There are legends that a tunnel used to run from the Docks cellar out to the wharves so that drunks could be apprehended and pressed into working on the ships. If the legend is true maybe the captains mate was one such person press-ganged into service?
(It is mentioned that last ghost and tunnel legend may have been cooked up for promotional purposes of a brew being released at the time. A good story though and one I'll happily drink too!)
Finally the ghost of a child has been seen along Todd Street and in a few of the taverns and hotels located along it. No one knows who the child is or why he is still haunting the streets of 'Port Misery'.
On a final note the Port Dock Brewery Hotel also brews it's own house beers. If you are ever visiting there grab yourself a pint of 'Old Preacher' and drink a toast to Reverend Kirby the man who closed the hotel who now has it's signature brew named after him. I'm sure he is rolling in his grave.