Following the reorganisation of the NW Licensing Board, on 3 Nov, 1896, Frederick Maddox (74) of Latrobe gained a liquor licence to reopen the troubled Sheffield Caledonian Hotel, then owned by the Union Bank of Australasia. The hotel’s first turbulent years, 1882–1896 (see last month’s story), saw two owners become bankrupt, a third de-licensed and two other men make unsuccessful attempts to gain liquor licenses. When Fred Maddox finally opened Maddox’s Caledonian Hotel, he commenced a successful 84-year ownership by four generations of the same family, followed by David & Carol Watson for the last 43 years.

Frederick Maddox (1822-1899)

Born in London, Frederick Maddox was recruited by Zephaniah Williams in the early 1850s to work as a blacksmith at his coal mines in Tarleton. When these mines petered out, Maddox began farming at New Ground. On 15 May, 1854, Fred Maddox (28) m Mary Simpson (18) at Northdown Church of England and had eight children. In 1892 Fred purchased the Shamrock Hotel near the bridge in Latrobe and turned it into Maddox Family Hotel, with his son John Maddox (29) as manager. As an old man, Frederick Maddox transferred the Sheffield hotel licence over to John on 3 Aug, 1898, just 8 months before Frederick died.

John Maddox (1863-1945)

John had managed his father’s hotel in Latrobe for six years prior to moving to Sheffield. An active sportsman, he was involved with the United Australasian Axeman Ass. at Latrobe. On 6 April, 1897, John Maddox (34) married Margaret Montgomery (24) at St Luke’s Church of England, Latrobe, where Margaret had been a choir member for the last 10 years. When John & Margaret Maddox came to Sheffield, they brought with them Margaret’s older sister Mary and her widowed mother Elizabeth Montgomery. Both helped to clean the hotel and cook during the time Margaret Maddox had her six children: Jean (b1898), Frederick John (Jack) (b1899), Madge (b1901), Marie (b1902), Reg (b1904), & Gladys (Teddy) (b1911). For the first two years, John Maddox leased the hotel premises from the Union Bank of Australasia, but in May 1899 was able to purchase the hotel with its surrounding 6-acre block.

During the next decade, as the popularity of his hotel grew, John Maddox made extensive improvements to his Caledonian Hotel. Local builder Wm Jeffrey erected four additional bedrooms, another lounge room, a spacious dining hall and installed acetylene gas for lighting and heating hot baths. He covered the wooden shingles on the roof with corrugated iron and erected two verandas along the front of the hotel, one above the other, each adorned with exquisite cast-iron railings. Maddox also added a billiard-room/barbershop, two sample rooms across the laneway for the use of commercial travellers, and a large ‘livery & bait’ business with 40 large horse stalls at the rear of the hotel.

Maddox’s Caledonian Hotel became renowned for its hospitality and meals. Its staff still included Margaret Maddox’s sister, her mother, and now John’s sister Jean Maddox. Their dining room was always beautifully kept; each table was covered with starched tablecloths and neatly laid out with silver cutlery and serviette rings. Mealtimes were announced by the striking of a gong and offered such special treats as roast duck and excellent plum puddings. One old commercial traveller, Ernest Lakin of Hobart, reminiscing about Maddox’s Hotel, wrote: The morning of our arrival in Sheffield, the Maddox family would take us older travellers into the kitchen for a cup of tea. There were wonderful fires burning in their dining room and lounge room during wintertime. In season we had quail on toast, quail pies and English trout, all caught by the popular proprietor John Maddox. There were musical evenings when we would persuade Mrs Margaret Maddox to play her piano and sing to us. The hotel had a reputation beyond Tasmania.

In 1905 when the NW Tourist Ass. began promoting the scenic rivers around Sheffield as good fishing and shooting destinations, John Maddox, with his life-long passion for fishing and shooting, was in his element. As host of Maddox’s Hotel, John organised fishing parties that camped out overnight beside the Dasher, Forth or Wilmot Rivers and came back with bagfuls of blackback fish, some up to 3lbs. When the Sheffield Angling Ass. was formed in 1911 with more than 30 members, trophies were offered for the best seasonal catches. At the close of the first season in June 1912, John Maddox took all three trophies: most fish caught in the season (227), heaviest fish caught (5lbs), and heaviest bag for one day (161bs).

John Maddox was also one of Tasmania’s best pigeon and quail shooters. In May 1901 a Sheffield news report stated: Out of a number who went quail shooting on Wednesday, John Maddox obtained the best bag of 85 brace; several others obtained from 5 to 15 brace. Birds are fairly numerous. A ‘brace’ of birds equalled two of a kind, usually caught for eating. Once at Latrobe John Maddox downed over seventy pigeons in a match, without ever using his second barrel. He competed against many prominent marksmen and won honours in Melbourne as Senior Champion Quail Shooter. When John didn’t show up for the opening day of the quail season in May 1937, it ended his 45-year record.

About September each year between 1924-1930, the annual furred skin sale was held outside Maddox’s Hotel. Hunters came in from the upper Mersey Valley, Cradle Mt, Middlesex, and Lorinna, where the average winter temperatures remained as low as 8 degrees. They would bring their winter catches of thick kangaroo, wallaby and possum skins to sell to the skin merchants. These gatherings of weather-beaten trappers and snarers were always very memorable occasions, as were similar gatherings of prospectors and miners.

In August 1928 John & Margaret Maddox retired to a house they owned at 13 High St, Sheffield, where John devoted his time growing gladioli, dahlias and other flowers, which attracted many visitors. John (82) d March 1945 and Margaret (84) d Dec 1957. Of their six children: Jean Maddox became a school teacher at Sheffield; Frederick John (Jack) succeeded his father as owner of Maddox’s Hotel; Madge Maddox m Phil Williams, ex-Aus Navy from Williamstown, Vic; Marie Maddox m returned WW1 serviceman Fred Stephenson, son of Sheffield policeman Frank Stephenson; Gladys (Teddy) Maddox (21) infant mistress m Wm John (Jack) Blake (headmaster, Dover), who later became the first headmaster of Sheffield Area School; and Reginald Maddox opened a fruit shop in Devonport.

Jack Maddox (1899 –1968)     

In March 1899, Frederick John Maddox was born as his grandfather lay on his death bed. Hence the newborn was given his grandfather’s name but was always known as ‘Jack Maddox’. As Sheffield’s earliest sports ground was across Main St from Maddox’s Hotel, young Jack, aged 6 or 7 years, would don his all-red guernsey and run with the Sheffield football team at their practices. Old Jim Ford remarked that ‘little Jack would one day become a champion’. How true that was, for Jack became a leading Tasmanian footballer & cricketer, as well as a billiards, tennis and golf player.

In 1919, Jack Maddox (20) became captain of the Sheffield Football Team and the following year coach as well. By 1921 he was travelling to Launceston each weekend to play with City Club; later to Hobart to play with North Hobart where he was voted ‘the best rover in the state.’ Unable to find suitable employment in Hobart, Maddox returned to Sheffield for work and played with Launceston’s City Club each weekend. In 1925 he had a season as captain & coach of Latrobe Football Club but in 1926 returned to Launceston’s City Club where he received a trophy for being ‘the best man on the field’ and ‘the cleverest rover in the state’. When Jack Maddox took over the hotel from his father in 1928, he stopped his weekends away and downsized to becoming captain/coach of the West Kentish team, where he not only got a medal for kicking the most goals for the season, but also found his wife Daphne working in Joe McClenaghan’s store at West Kentish.

On 21 Aug 1933 FJ (Jack) Maddox (33) m Daphne McClenaghan (28) in the Presbyterian church at High St, Sheffield, and had two children: Judy b1934 and Wm (Bill) b1940. Daphne’s brother Jack McClenaghan took over their father’s store at West Kentish, while her other brother Bob McClenaghan opened a grocery shop in Sheffield.

Football was only one of Jack Maddox’s many activities. Every summer, he played with the popular Nook Cricket Club, consistently winning their best batting average. During a match between Nook & Railton in May 1925, Maddox gave a brilliant exhibition of batting by scoring 266 not out, which included five sixes. It was said ‘Jack Maddox was a ‘veritable run-making machine’. In his old age he remained Patron of the Nook Club until his death.

One notable guest who stayed several times at Maddox’s Hotel was Marie Bjelke- Petersen (1874-1969), Tasmania’s famous authoress and aunt of ex-Queensland premier, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Around Sheffield, Marie gathered background material for her romantic novels that were usually set in rural communities of Tasmania. She published them in England with a large UK and Australian readership. Her novel The Captive Singer (1917), set in Mole Creek, describes the singer’s downfall occurring in the unnamed Caledonian Hotel in Sheffield. In 1932 Marie’s book The Rainbow Lute, based on the rural settlement of Claude Road, had a new, likable schoolteacher dealing with two rivals for her hand.

Maddox’s Caledonian Hotel was the regular eating place for many community organisations and local clubs, including the monthly midday meal for the Kentish councillors, governmental vice-regal visitors, and other distinguished guests. When Maddox’s main opposition, the original longstanding Sheffield Hotel on the corner of Main & High St, came up for auction in August 1939, Jack Maddox bought it and delicensed it, so his Caledonian Hotel had no further competition.

When Jack & Daphne Maddox retired, they moved into ‘Hamilton’ the same house his parents had at 13 High St, and their daughter Judy began managing the hotel with the help of George & Jack Excell in the bar. Judy Maddox remained single and, prior to an influx of Mersey-Forth Hydro workers in the 1960s, attempted to upgrade the hotel’s facilities. When ‘Jack’ Maddox (69) died of emphysema on 23 Aug 1968, ownership of the hotel passed to his wife Daphne while she lived, then in equal shares to both Judy and Bill. However, Judy became unwell and could no longer manage the hotel, so her brother Bill was called home from Melbourne to run the hotel for his mother.

D J (Bill) Maddox (1938-2018)

Bill received his secondary education at Scotch College, Launceston, then took employment with the Commercial Bank before moving to Victoria. Bill Maddox married Judy Define from Hampton, Melbourne, at the Brighton Presbyterian church in January 1968. Towards the end of their honeymoon, the newlyweds were called back home to manage the family hotel. Interestingly, Bill’s wife ‘Judy Maddox’ replaced Bill’s sister, also ‘Judy Maddox’, who had just moved to Boat Harbour to live. In Sheffield, Bill & Judy had two boys: Anthony b1969 and Jason b1972. Whilst Bill enjoyed both football and cricket, he didn’t achieve champion status like his father. In Oct 1976 Bill organised a celebration for the 80th anniversary of their family’s ownership of Maddox’s Caledonian Hotel. Two & a half years later, Daphne Maddox (73) died on 13 April 1979 and the hotel was left to her two children: Judy and Bill Maddox. When Judy insisted on having her share in cash and a compromise couldn’t be reached, Bill was forced into selling the hotel in 1980. Six years earlier, Bill & wife Judy had moved from the hotel to a house they owned at 16 Victoria St and it was from there that they purchased and ran The Don Co. supermarket between 1984-1988. Bill owned a long block behind the hotel, between Hope St and the school farm. He sold off about 9 blocks with the remainder of the Smythe St subdivision purchased by Tony Braid. Bill & wife Judy moved to Shearwater in 1989, the same year that his sister Judy Maddox (55) d in Devonport. Bill Maddox d in 2018 aged 79.

David & Carol Watson

On 1 July, 1980, this prestigious property was sold to David & Carol Watson from Devonport who have now owned it for an impressive 43 years. They renamed it ‘Sheffield Hotel’ and embarked on extensive renovations ready for the World Rowing Championship in 1990. The front of the hotel was sandblasted to remove the thick cream paint and restored back to its original red brickwork, which with the intricately designed cast-iron veranda railings, helped the hotel gain National Heritage listing. A large new dining room was built featuring a full panoramic view of Mt Roland, whilst in front of the hotel a welcoming patio was added for courtyard dining. A bookmaker and ardent golfer, David Watson came from England as a nine-year-old with his family, and in 1970 married Carolyn Rundle, sister of ex-Premier Tony Rundle. They have three daughters: Jodie, Shani & Fleur. After five years (1980-1985) of living in the hotel, the Watsons returned to Devonport, appointing the following licensees to run it: David & Jan Rootes, Peter & Vicki Lowe, Geoff & Judy Hicks, Julie Winwood & family, and since 2003 Grant & Lana Crawford. David & Carol, along with their licensees, have had significant input in Sheffield emerging as an award-winning tourist destination. With both the Watsons and the Crawfords retiring, this iconic hotel awaits new owners.

Next time: (79) Slaters Country Store – Life Behind the Counter