Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published December 8th 2013
Drayton's historic secret
High on the hill as you drive through Drayton you will see a most distinguished building. Known as 'The Royal Bulls Head Inn', this building is now opened and run by the Toowoomba Branch of the National Trust of Queensland. The Trust purchased it in 1973 and after restoration opened its doors to the public in 1985.
The restoration was long and arduous as the building was nearly falling apart from years of neglect; the former owner living in it until his death and too old and frail to continue its upkeep. The kitchen and wash room are in their original state and an eye opener for any youngster looking at the equipment they had to use in days gone by. The old ringer where sheets and clothes were pushed through to extinguish the water seems like another World compared to the modern washing machine. Walking through from room to room and immersing yourself in the Bulls Head Inn, you can see that none of the character was lost from the restoration undertaken.
In 1848 Drayton was surveyed to allow builders to secure title to their property and Horton purchased lots 8 to 11 of Section 1, on which the Bulls Head Inn was built at the first land sale in 1850. He called it the 'Bull's Head' after 'Champion' a prized Durham bull on Cecil Plains Station. It became an important meeting place for squatters and also had a thriving bar trade. It offered lodging, a staging place for animals, and was used for auctions, meetings, and other social functions.
In 1858 a large extension made out of brick, cedar and timber was added to the Bulls Head Inn. The entire inn was beautifully furnished and was regarded as the best on the Darling Downs and better than some in Brisbane and Ipswich. After a visit from Sir George Ferguson Bowen, Queensland's Governor in March 1860, the Bulls Head Inn soon became the Royal Bulls Head Inn and improvements to the inn continued to add a billiard room and stables.
On the 27th September 1864, William Horton died aged 47. The hotel was leased to several different licensees over the next few years but none succeeded financially. On the 3rd March 1865, Sarah Horton, widow of William Horton, died at the Royal Bulls Head Inn aged 35. In 1865 and again in 1867, the contents of the Inn were sold by auction.
In 1879 just over 30 years after the Inn was established, the Royal Bull's Head Inn finally ceased trading as a hotel. Thomas Price Horton, William Horton's son, sold the Inn to Richard Stephen Lynch a saddler and his wife. The Lynch family renamed the Royal Bull's Head Inn "The Terrace" and it became their private residence for more than 90 years.
The Lynch family including wife Sarah and their daughters conducted a post office from part of the building from 1892-1952. It was known as the Drayton Post Office. The office remained there until 1952 when Frances Lynch, daughter of Richard and Sarah retired. In September of 1973, the last surviving son, Mr Alan Campbell Lynch, died and the National Trust of Queensland acquired the building.
Today the Royal Bulls Head Inn is open on the first Sunday of each month from 10am – 4pm. Entry is $5 for Adults and $3.00 for Children/Concession. It is well worth a drive to Drayton to visit this lovely building and devour the history that is displayed within.
As the new shopping complex is being erected across the road, one would wonder what Mr Horton and the Lynch family would think as they look out the windows on the top floor and see what is now called "progress".