From the ‘‘six o’ clock swill’’ to footy tipping, a meeting place for writers, an after-show knees-up place for actors, and somewhere to celebrate anniversaries and birthdays — The Terminus Hotel has been a focus for Shepparton social life for more than 140 years.
When the iconic building changes hands on June 25 it will end 76 years of Stainsby family stewardship.
The impending changeover has also fuelled memories from past customers. JOHN LEWIS reports.
In the roaring days of the 1960s, the long Houston Bar of The Terminus Hotel was six deep with blokes reaching over each other for a beer before time was called at 6pm.
The ‘‘six o’ clock swill’’ drew plumbers, labourers, painters, railway workers, printers and pen pushers from The Shepparton News and the water board, all keen to get a few beers in after work.
‘‘In those days you had to reach over each other to get a drink. You had half an hour to finish your drinks and it was choc-a-block with beers lined up — blokes with a spot at the bar didn’t move,’’ former News journalist Noel Hussey said.
‘‘You’d have pots lined up on the shelf behind the bar and blokes would leave their money on the bar for the barman.
‘‘He would remember whose shout it was — and anyone who hadn’t paid up, so the bludgers were caught out. Barmen in those days were accountants as well,’’ Mr Hussey said.
The barman was former radio engineer Bob Stainsby who had married Margaret (nee Houston) in 1944.
Margaret’s mother Agnes had become the Terminus’ licensee three years earlier, so beginning a family association with the hotel which has lasted for three generations and more than seven decades.
The Stainsbys went on to introduce bigger menus, increased staff, and smoke-free bars but they never went down the glittering avenue of pokies and nightclubs.
For many, this has allowed The Terminus to retain its charm.
Later this month, Bob and Margaret’s son Rob will end the family connection when he hands over the keys to new licensee Greg Brassil.
Rob has run the Terminus with his sisters Diane and Karen for more than 40 years.
It was always a family affair, with Diane organising the catering and kitchen, and Karen doing the accounts and running the hotel’s function room — Pippins.
Now that their children are off forging their own futures away from the hotel — the days of pulling beer, cooking and mopping up after closing time are coming to an end for the siblings.
Rob said he was looking forward to finally putting his feet up — but he had mixed feelings about leaving so much family history behind.
‘‘I’ll miss the social aspect — the customers. But I won’t miss the clean-ups and the late hours,’’ he said.
Longtime customer Bill Ludlow said he remembered joining his dad at the bar for the six o’clock swill when he turned 18 in 1961.
‘‘Beer was 10 pence a glass and we’d line them up on the shelves before time was called by Mrs Houston or Bob. Stan Perry, Chooka Hamilton, Graeme Pell, Bill Vallance and many others — they were all regular characters in the ’60s,’’ he said.
He said the tradition continued into the 1970s.
‘‘The Shepp News boys would lob in after work with Huss, Barrie Cassidy, Keith Esson, Nipper Davies, Slim Somerville, Col Scrips and loads of others,’’ he said.
In the ’80s and ’90s The Terminus’ Pippins Bar became an after-show venue for Shepparton Theatre Arts Group members to celebrate.
‘‘It always felt like we were going into someone’s home,’’ STAG life member Dale Roberts said.
‘‘They would provide supper and there was always a lovely warm fire,’’ she said.
The hotel’s Gallery Room also became a regular meeting place for the Goulburn Valley Writers Group.
However, Mr Hussey said the bar was the place where work deals were done.
‘‘A lot of work changed hands — if you wanted a plumber or a painter you came here.
‘‘You told the missus you needed to go to the pub to get a job done,’’ he said.
He said despite the six o’ clock swill, The Terminus was always a safe and happy place to drink.
‘‘It was a family pub run by a really good family,’’ he said.
Mr Stainsby will call time for the last time on Saturday, June 23, before handing the keys over to new licensee Mr Brassil on Monday, June 25.
Mr Brassil is the former owner of Shepparton’s GB Coffee and Noble Monks.
Hotel Terminus timeline
1876 — Wooden hotel built and licensed as Coghlan’s Hotel.
1880 — Rail arrives in Shepparton.
1917 — Original wooden building burns down.
1918 — Rebuilt as a single-storey brick building.
1938 — Remodelled with distinctive art deco facade.
1941 — Agnes Houston becomes licensee.
1944 — Agnes’ daughter Margaret marries radio engineer Bob Stainsby.
1946 — Margaret Stainsby becomes licensee.
1955 — Fire damages kitchen and newly refurbished dining room.
1971 — Drive-in bottle shop added.
1983 — Pippins Wine Bar and function room added.
2011 — Stainsby family celebrates 70 years at The Terminus.
2018 — Stainsby family’s connection to The Terminus ends with hand-over over to new licensee Greg Brassil.