The Croxton Park Hotel began life on 27 April 1844 when Robert Duff was granted a license for a hotel on Plenty Road, to be known as the Pilgrim Inn. Duff and his wife were to run the hotel for nine years and the hotel was to become a well-known stopping place for gold prospectors moving up to Whittlesea and beyond. The hotel was a low, wooden building, with a signboard of a pilgrim hunched over a staff, hanging low over the footpath.
The hotel passed through several licensees before Josiah Goyder took over in 1866. A vigorous promoter of the hotel Goyder had the old hotel painted red and renamed the Red House Inn. Goyder, in partnership with Michael Pender and Job Smith, began to expand the activities of the hotel to include horse racing in a track built behind the hotel.
Over the next fifty years the range of sporting activities happening at the hotel was to vary widely and included athletics meets, pigeon shooting, football, and cricket. The hotel even boasted its own football team, the Rose of Northcote, which made its first appearance in 1904.
The hotel changed its name from the Red House Inn to the Croxton Park Hotel in 1869 when Charles Hitchen became the new publican. The name Croxton Park was associated with a well-known English sporting pub, as had been the Red House Inn. Hitchen was a well-known billiards player. A latter publican, Donald Dinnie, in, 1886 was a famous Scottish wrestler.
In 1889 Jane Randall was to become the new licensee at the Croxton Park Hotel. Over the next forty years James, John and Albert Randall would all hold the license for the hotel. In 1911 the electoral roll for Northcote would show John as the licensed publican with Albert and William as barmen. The Randalls established the first theatre in Northcote on grounds adjoining the hotel.
The hotel was completed rebuilt in 1897 and has undergone modernization several times since then. The 1st floor veranda of the hotel has managed to survive the many changing faces of the hotel.
Cole, Robert K. Index of Hotels 1841 – 1949. Unpublished manuscript.
Darebin Libraries. Local History File: Hotels.
Edge, Gary (2004). Surviving the six o’clock swill: a history of Darebin’s hotels. Melbourne: Darebin Libraries.
Lemon, Andrew (1983). The Northcote Side of the River. North Melbourne: Hargreen.
Swift, William George (1928). The history of Northcote: From its first settlement to a city. Northcote, Vic: Leader Publishing.