GIVEN that WA’s oldest operating hotel The Rose & Crown in Guildford is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year, it’s hardly surprising there is a mystery or two associated with the hotel.
Visitors often report seeing ghosts at the hotel and mystery surrounds a tunnel that once ran from the hotel to the Swan River about 400m away.
Many Guildford locals have seen the bricked-up hole in the wall at the Rose & Crown’s cellar that apparently ran from the hotel to the river, and current owner Mark Weber said the mystery about the tunnel had taken a new turn.
A priest recently came into the hotel and told Mr Weber the tunnel from the Rose & Crown had also once connected it to St Charles’ Seminary on the Swan River and to the old Padbury buildings across the road from the hotel.
Mr Weber said a story had been published a few years ago calling into question the existence of the tunnel, which has long been bricked up, but that prompted a number of people to come forward to say the tunnels were not a figment of the imagination, but had been very real.
One man was so concerned that the truth about the tunnel was being covered up that he wrote to Mr Weber.
“He said he had played in the tunnels as a kid,” Mr Weber said.
“There had been a railway track with a trolley on it that could be pushed along.
“The tunnel was apparently quite small, only big enough for a child to stand up in.”
Mr Weber said he had also had several Old Guildfordians tell him stories of playing in the tunnel when they were children.
The tunnel story took on more credence when a worker who had been working on construction of the new buildings next to the historic Padbury buildings, across the road from the Rose & Crown, went into the hotel for a few drinks and told how they had found airshafts to a tunnel and had filled them in.
“Lots of people say the tunnels were probably used for contraband and that’s the reason for the 4m deep well that still exists in the cellar,” Mr Weber said.
“It was reportedly used to draw water for making illicit grog. The tunnel was supposedly used to heave the heavy barrels down the tunnel to the river.
“The tunnels may have been for contraband or it may just have been that the English were good at building tunnels and it was an easy way to get things from the river underneath what would have been swampland.”
Mr Weber said there was evidence of openings to the tunnels in the Padbury buildings.
He had also looked down at the river to try and find signs of a tunnel, but said there had been a lot of development and the river banks had changed over the years, which had made the task difficult.
“It’s not a 100-year flood plain anymore, so where it was, or is, is really hard to find,” he said.
The cellar and tunnel was built by convict labour with handmade nails and hand-sawn jarrah beams, which still support the weight of the building.