In April 1889, Frederick Hurst transferred the title of the Junction Hotel – a large 15 room establishment at the junction of High Street and Plenty Road - to Elizabeth Butler. In July of the same year Butler married John Ralph and established a link between the Junction Hotel and the Ralph family which would extend for over 80 years.
The Ralph family was to grow with May Harriet born in 1890, Ellen Ada in 1891, Thomas in 1892 and Percival in 1895. Two of these children, Ellen (known as Ada) and Thomas, would become publicans of the Junction Hotel in their own right.
Like many publicans, Elizabeth occasionally ran foul of the law. In December 1908 she was found guilty of supplying liquor after 6pm and was fined 2 pounds. It would have been a rare publican who was not fined at some time from breaking the 6pm closing curfew.
In 1894 John Ralph briefly visited Coolgardie, one of many Preston and Northcote men to try their luck on the goldfields of Western Australia. The Northcote Leader stated that he returned with "...some gold, also - a fine beard."
For some reason John Ralph was never the licensee of the Junction. Interestingly, Elizabeth applied for a continuation of her liquor license in December, 1889 under her maiden name. When her husband died in 1914, Elizabeth surrendered the license of the Junction, firstly to her daughter Ada - only 23 at the time - and then to her cousin's husband, Harry (or Henry) Walker.
In 1920 she returned to the hotel and continued to live there until her death in 1929.
She died with £37,000 in money and assets; a considerable sum at the time.
Cole, Robert K. Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949. Unpublished manuscript.
Edge, Gary (2004). Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne: Darebin Libraries.
Minney, Kathleen. Memories of the old Junction Hotel (unpublished manuscript)
(1889, April 5). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - )
(1889, December 6). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - )
(1908, December 15). Northcote Leader (Northcote, Vic. : 1882 - )
Sands and McDougall’s Melbourne and Suburban Directory 1864- 1974. [Microfiche]. (1974). Melbourne, Australia: Sands & McDougall.