Co-operatives Australia
Visit Co-operatives Australia web site
Co-operatives Victoria
Visit Co-operatives Victoria web site
News and Information
Co-op Profiles : VIC Last Updated: Nov 28, 2009 - 10:00:09 AM  RSS feed

Community Hotel
By David Griffiths
Jul 20, 2005 - 12:13:00 PM

Email this article
 Printer friendly page
The Hopetoun Community Hotel Co-operative Society was established in 1957 - Victoria's first community hotel.

The Hopetoun Community Hotel Co-operative Society was established in 1957. It was the first hotel in Victoria owned by its local community. It was registered on 5 September 1957 (Registration No 71)

Hopetoun is in North Western Victoria 400 km north west of Melbourne on the Henty Highway. It is centrally located in the Mallee cereal growing region. It has a population of 670.

The hotel is owned by the co-operative and leased to a manager who is the licensee. The hotel includes a two block motel with 13 rooms.

The co-operative was formed to build a hotel when the previous hotel on the site, the Commercial Hotel, was condemned. The Commercial first opened in 1895.

The Commercial Hotel, Austin Street, Hopetoun, established 1895

The Commercial Hotel was owned and operated by the Ballarat Brewing Company. The Liquor Licensing Court had called on all hotels throughout Victoria to raise their standards. The Commercial had to raise its standards or be closed. The Ballarat Brewing Company, however, said it did not have the necessary finance to rebuild and modernise all their hotels - including The Commercial.

The Hopetoun Progress Association was concerned that the closure of the Commercial Hotel would leave the town with only one hotel. The threatend closure crystallised two converging ideas:

  • The need to improve accommodation and hotel facilities in Hopetoun.
  • Ploughing finance back into worthy projects as profits became available.

The Association contacted the Ballarat Brewing Company which subsequently met with the Association in Hopetoun.

At the meeting, the Company confirmed that it was unable to build a new hotel in Hopetoun. However, it did propose to the Association that if the Association built a new hotel it would make a gift of the site and the licence of the Commercial Hotel.

The first meeting of the board of directors was held on 18th September 1957 where the proposal to build a hotel on one of two nominated sites was discussed - in Lascelles Street or Austin Street.

At a subsequent meeting on 19 October 1957 it was decided to locate the new building on the existing site of the old pub in Austin Street.

On 10 May 1958 the co-operative accepted a tender of a Mr. J.M.Segers, of Adelaide, for 20,315 pounds to build the new hotel. Construction started on 1 July 1958 and was completed in just under four months.

During construction a temporary bar was set up at the rear of the site in a prefab building facing Yarrack Lane.

The share capital provided the funds for constructing and furnishing the new hotel - 19,000 punds was raised quickly from the members. At the 2 December 1957 board meeting it was reported, for example:

Number of shares purchased

Shares Purchased Number of members purchasing
1000 3
500 6
400 1
250 1


Hopetoun Community Hotel built by co-operative in 1958

Managers were appointed in September and the new hotel opened at 9.00 a.m. on 28th October 1958 under the management of a Mr. and Mrs. H. Page, from Blackheath, N.S.W.

In 1963 the co-operative decided to enlarge the bar and alter lounge facilities and add motel units to the hotel. These extensions were completed in 1964.

Until 1975 the co-operative was the licensee with a manager. This, however, involved a lot of volunteer work for the board and it was decided that the manager would also be the licensee. According to the Chairman, Mr. Peter Poulton, this decision "has been a more successful way of doing things." In 1975, therefore, Mr. Barry Keith Forryan was appointed the licensee.

The original membership was 165. In 2005 there are 205 members.

Active membership is based on a card system. The co-operative's Rules provide that:

A member shall purchase an alcoholic or non alcoholic beverage or a meal or other food, or use the motel or meeting facilities at least once over a 3 year period in order to establish active membership of the co-operative.

Between 1996 and 2005 no member has been removed.

Shareholding provisions:

  • Every member admitted to the co-operative up to but not including the date of the registration of these rules shall hold at least five (5) shares.
  • Every member admitted to the co-operative on or after the date of the registration of these rules must hold at least one hundred (100) shares.
  • The capital of the co-operative is to be raised by the issue of shares which are to have a nominal value of two (2) dollars. 

There are seven male directors. There have been no female directors since 1957. The current board includes a motor mechanic, a retired clerk from local government, a farmer, a retired farmer, and ex-baker who is now an automobile parts manager and a farmer. Three of the current directors have been on the board for 16 years or more.

The background of the board's directors has not significantly changed since 1957 when the co-operative was formed. Since 1957 there have been 36 directors who have served on the board.

Since 1958 there have been 17 managers with most serving for four years or less.

There is competition from one other hotel in Hopetoun, The Club Hotel. There is also competition from the liquor licensed golf, bowls and football clubs.

Mr. Poulton suspects that for the forseeable future the hotel will remain under co-operative ownership. "We will never get enough members at a meeting to decide otherwise," he said.

Rules of the co-operative

Contact: The current licensee since 6 September 2004 - Peter and Cindi Doble, Hopetoun Community Hotel Co-operative Society, 30 Austin Street, Hopetoun Telephone: 508 33070

Other Hotel Co-operatives in Victoria:

Hotel Peterborough Co-operative was registerd 0n 20 January 1967 and dissolved on 30 June 1969.
Red Cliffs Community Hotel Co-operative Society Limited was registered on 1 February 1971.
Yinnar Community Hotel Co-operative Limited was registered on 1 September 1972.
Streatham Community Hotel Co-operative was registered on 11 June 1980 and dissolved on 22 March 1984.
Devenish Community Hotel Co-operative Limited was registered on 24 May 2000.

© Copyright 2005 by Victoria Coop News

Top of Page

Latest Headlines
50 Years of Genetic Improvement
Profiling Victoria's Co-operatives
Co-operative Housing
Co-operative Pigs
Silent Co-operation - Bush Nursing
Community Bank
Co-operative Hay
Co-operative Post and Transaction Centre
Urban Camp Melbourne
Community Hotel