Thomas Bath

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Thomas Bath, c1894.
Ballarat Gold Pioneers Prior to the Issue of the Gold License, 1851

Thomas Bath was a publican in Ballarat, Victoria, from 1853.



Bath opened the first licensed hotel, the Ballarat Hotel (later known as Baths's Hotel), on the Ballarat goldfields on 1 July 1853.[1]

Bath was made a Life Governor of the Ballarat School of Mines in 1888.


See also

Charles Tinworth

Ballarat Yacht Club


TIME has been telling heavily upon the veterans of Ballarat, but does it not seem a wonderful instance of longevity that Mr THOMAS BATH, who was a pioneer of the district and a miner in 1851, is still hale and hearty, and taking the same ardent interest in our local and public affairs that he has ever done 1 At the meeting of the Ballarat Agricultural and Pastoral Society on Saturday he announced his resignation of his official position as treasurer, owing to the advice of his medical attendant as necessary for his health; The members of the society, may always count upon his help and co operation, for there is hardly a man in Victoria who has endeavored to do more for agriculture. Those who were here in the good old times, and who occasionally pay us a visit, will tell you that one of the strangest things that strikes them is to find Mr Thomas Bath in his old form and looking none the worse of the wear, kindly, cheery, and active. What wonderful tales could the old man tell of the Fifties. He was remarkable in this particular; he went in for business. He believed, with Tennyson’s “Northern Farmer,’’ that proputy, proputy, proputy sticks; and he stuck to it, too. One of the first jewellers’ shops was situated on the Yarrowee Creek, near Golden Point, and an old photograph of the scene presents is with one of Mr Bath’s humble mansions near the centre of excitement. He was lucky; everything he touched turned into gold. The trend soon set in to the higher ground, and with a judicious eye to investment he purchased that block on which was subsequently erected the hotel which bore his name, and divided by a narrow lane from the block of handsome buildings fronting Sturt street and extending from Lydiard street to the Town Hall. Here money was literally coined in the old days. Mr Bath’sname was a guarantee of comfort, convenience, and everything that could give a hotel a status. Here were found all the wealthy diggers, public men, and visitors who flocked in daily from all parts of the world, but the business was conducted with a tact, unpretentiousness, and freedom from ostentation which necessarily had a peculiar attractiveness for the better class of people. There were some rough fellows to be met with in those days, but they found the. toffs at Bath’s as capable of giving a Roland for an Oliver as cleverly as the Benecia Boy or the Staleybridge Infant. What a roll of noble fellows the grand pioneer Ballaratians became associated with at that luxurious hostelry. Subsequently Mr Craig, whose name was rendered famous by his horse Nimblefoot winning a Melbourne Cup, took over the hotel and maintained its high prestige.. The following particulars throw an interesting light upon the early doings of some of the fortunate ones who were the first to reach the auriferous ground. A laborer named Hiscocks heard of a discovery in the Pyrenees. He made a cradle, and tested some of the spots round that place, and became the discoverer of Hiscocks’ Cully. Information of this reached Geelong, which, even at that time; bore a bright particular reputation for the smartness of the place and people, and a rush set in from that Buninyong. Some 50 parties turned up, many of them embracing some of the subsequent leaders of Ballarat. Amongst the first to arrive was Mr James Oddie, who left on the 2nd of August and reached the Buninyong Camp about five days afterwards. News had just been received of the Golden Point rush, for which everybody was making. On the Ist September Mr and Mrs Bath, Mr Oddie and their parties arrived on the scene and found six tents and a shepherd’s box. Within ten days almost the whole population of Geelong had arrived on the spot, and five days later half the residents of Melbourne had joined in the rush and the place presented the remarkable spectacle of lawyers, doctors and men of all ranks and stations toiling in the typical diggers’ costume. . It is needless to relate the subsequent progress of gold mining in the colony ~ since that time. Nothing can be pleasanter than for these old soldiers to meet each other and recount the tales of of early days, and at these gatherings Mr Bath was always welcome. How few are left of the good old stock, and those who remain still carry with them much of the old Ballarat manner. We have refrained from adverting to the many revivals and the vicissitudes that befell this district, inasmuch as the gentleman to whom we more particularly refer, and who was through it all has journeyed in his later days along the peaceful glades of rural life, and avoided the anxieties and troubles invariably associated with the thirst for gold.[2]


  1. Hargreaves, John. Ballarat Hotels Past and Present, pg. 2, 1943, Ballarat
  2. Ballarat Star, 04 October 1899.

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