Sunday, 24 April 2016

The Jones family part IV: Music, Ice and Pineapples at the Blenheim Hotel

Blenheim Hotel, Adelaide, S.A. Hindley St., 1851.[i]
Borrow Collection, Flinders University Library.
Thank you to Jenny and Kylie for their assistance.

I mentioned in the previous post, that in 1855 Thomas and Theophila Jones had a baby girl. At the time I did not know the baby’s name, but luckily my 4th cousin Nick Haines contacted me with information transcribed from the Jones Family Bible. The baby’s name was Florence Edith JONES[i]. Thanks Nick!

The couple had three more children whilst living in Adelaide. Robert James JONES was born 14 Dec 1856 but sadly died when only two months old[ii]. On the 17th Jan 1858 they had a daughter Emily Agnes JONES, then on the 2 Aug 1859 they had another daughter Caroline Rowlands JONES. So by 1859 they had five surviving children, 4 daughters and one son, and had lost two little sons.[iii]

Under the patronage of Thomas, the Blenheim Hotel became well known for its musical evenings on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. They ran a series of weekly excursions to Glenelg and opened billiard rooms. The Blenheim became well known for its lavish functions, wine, and cold drinks.

Ice! Domestic News, Adelaide Times 1856.[iv] 


In 1856 the Blenheim began serving chilled and iced drinks. It was even mentioned in a Tasmanian newspaper that T.R. Jones at the Blenheim was serving ice. This made me wonder, how did anyone in South Australia get ice in 1856?

Ice, The Adelaide TImes  [xi]

Most ice in Australia in the 1850’s came from ice harvesting in the U.S.A. The ice was shipped in from Wenham Lake in Massachusetts, [v]., which was at least an 115-day journey by steamship. At Wenham lake, there was a large ice farm where the ice was cut into slabs and shipped all around the world. Wenham “Crystal ice” claimed to have special properties that kept it frozen for longer than other ice and marketed as being very pure and clean. Wenham ice was popular in England, but the need for ice in India and Australia was great. There were huge difficulties in shipping ice half way around the world, the length of the journey, temperatures crossing the equator, and the salt air would all melt the ice.[vi] This made shipping ice to Australia very expensive, and so was quite a luxury. Plant Ice began to be competitive by around 1858[vii] when Melbourne manufacturers The Patent Ice Company began exporting to other Australian colonies, and soon manufactured ice began to dominate the Australian market.

Wenham Ice Harvest.
Thanks to "Welcome to Wenham"[viii]

Disney's Frozen has a musical scene dedicated to Ice Harvesting.

In 1857, the Blenheim really ramped up the luxury by offering not only ice but punch containing pineapple! They also on-sold ice to families and businesses.

Pine Apples,Adelaide Times (SA : 1848 - 1858)  [ix] 

I tried to find a recipe for Rhine Wine Punch, and I could find a few variations. It could have been based on the traditional German May Wine punch flavoured with Woodruff, but there are a number of Rhine wine punch recipes containing wine, brandy, tea, and fruit.

Classic Mixology has a May wine Punch
The Flowing Bowl, published in 1892 has a Rhine Wine Punch recipe on pg. 233. The Flowing Bowl


In 1857 Thomas Jones began running catered day trips to Glenelg via paddle steamer, complete with musical entertainment.

The Excursion Trip to GLENELG We see by advertisement that Mr Jones, of the Blenheim , Hotel, has announced his first of a series of weekly excursion trips, to start on Sunday morning for the Bay. The route selected offers the greatest variety of objects of interest within the range of a day's excursion from the city, and the fares are so moderate, that no possible objection can be raised on that score. This trip will not only offer the advantage of novelty, but will be a decided improvement on any attempts hitherto made in this colony to cater for outdoor amusement. We may add that a first rate band has been engaged to give additional animation to the proceedings.[x]

Glenelg advertisement[v]
Sketch of the old Glenelg Pier with the Pier Hotel in the background c.1870. 
State Library of South Australia SLSA PRG280/1/44/508


As well as the musical evenings held at the Blenheim in 1858 Thomas played what I think might have been a  Xylophone at the Victoria Theatre to a large crowd.  
“A solo performance by Mr. Jones, of the Blenheim Hotel upon the yElophone, was deservedly encored, but the instrument is scarcely adapted for so large a building.”[xii]


The Blenheim Hotel had a Billiard room attached at the back it was large and well lit for the times and held competitive matches. 
There was a fire in the Billiard room at 10pm 24th Feb 1856. It had started in the chimney of the adjoining kitchen, and had spread to the skirtings and walls of the Billiard room. It was discovered early and with community effort, a good water supply and the assistance of two fire engines (the Cornwall and the “small but useful” engine of Mr. Nitchke) the fire was put out without too much damage.[xiii] 
By 1858 Thomas was advertising that he had the “Best billiard room in the Colony.”[xiv]
“SPORTING.-We are informed that a billiard match, for £50 a-side, will be played in Mr. Jones's billiard-room, attached to the Blenheim Hotel, between Mr. A. Lazar and a "crack'' player expected from Melbourne by the Havilah, immediately after the arrival of which vessel the match is to come off. The money has been posted on both sides, and the match will no doubt be one of unusual interest, and prove an exhibition of superior play not often to be seen. We understand that Mr. Jones has just purchased an excellent billiard-table, which will add to the attractions of his already very attractive room, and afford the means of accommodating even a larger number of visitors than at present attend his tables.”[xv]

For my next blog post I will have more on the Jones Family.

[i] Thomas Rowlands Jones Family Bible. Transcribed by Nick Haines in 1980s.
[ii] 1856 'Family Notices', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 15 December, p. 2. , viewed 27 Feb 2016,
[iii] South Australian Birth Registration transcription. Genealogy SA.
[iv] 1856 'DOMESTIC NEWS.', Adelaide Times (SA : 1848 - 1858), 16 February, p. 2. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,
[v] Ice trade. (2016, April 22). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 07:37, April 24, 2016, from
[vii] Nigel Isaacs, Sydney's first ice, Dictionary of Sydney, 2011,, viewed 24 April 2016
[viii] "Welcome to Wenham"
[ix] 1857 'LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.', Adelaide Times (SA : 1848 - 1858), 25 February, p. 2. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,
[x] 1857 'LOCAL INTELLIGENCE.', Adelaide Times (SA : 1848 - 1858), 19 December, p. 2. , viewed 23 Apr 2016,
[xi] 1857, Adelaide Times (SA : 1848 - 1858), 19 December, p. 1. , viewed 23 Apr 2016,
[xii] 1858 'No title', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 13 August, p. 3. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,
[xiii] 1856 'IMMIGRATION BOARD.', South Australian Register (Adelaide, SA : 1839 - 1900), 25 February, p. 3. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,
[xiv] 1858 'Classified Advertising', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 9 September, p. 4. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,
[xv] 1859 'The Advertiser.', The South Australian Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1858 - 1889), 20 December, p. 2. , viewed 24 Apr 2016,

No comments:

Post a Comment