Historic Hotel - The Club, Clifton History
Built in 1889, The Club is the oldest hotel in town and has many stories to share. As well as the fires, there’s the ghost, the horse that drank at the bar, and another that slept upstairs while his owner drank at the bar.
Known originally as ‘The Club’ the hotel took on the name of the “Pink Pub’ when painted pink from top to bottom. The Club was built in 1889 and remained the only hotel in King Street, the main street of Clifton, until 1900. Unlike many other hotels, ‘The Club’ has never burnt down although it has seen a fire or two.
The Thornbirds - Missing Years
The classic streetscape of Clifton and its building facades have been used in a number of Australian movies including The Thornbirds - Missing Years (1983), The Love of Lionel’s Life (2000); On Our Selection and Finding Hope to name a few. During its life, The Club has been host to several prominent personalities such as Rebecca Gibney and Matt Day. The locals remember Richard Chamberlain and his crew dining everyday at The Club.
Underground Cellar Rediscovered
Driven by the need to get the hotel back to it’s former glory, the building was rewired, repainted and essentially extensively renovated. During the two busy years the history of Clifton came to light with under-board newspaper, photographs, postcards and the like. Even the underground cellar was found.
The Club retains its original architectural features with the exception of the fretwork on the lower front verandah which was retained until around 2004 when trees and a garden sitting area were established as part of Council’s main street beautification program.
Also the fireplace chimney, which was removed for safety reasons in 2007 during renovations. For many years the dinning establishment was known as the “Aces High Restaurant” with its iconic deck of cards.
Clifton Town History
European settlement began when Clifton Station was taken up and stocked, mostly with cattle, in the first year of Downs settlement. The town of Clifton was established in 1875. This area was very busy in the early years of Clifton as it was located opposite the main gates to the railway from Toowoomba to Hendon (1869) where many early grain growers pulled up their load for the train.
Some people of note who have walked the Clifton railway platform include – Duke of York (later King George VI), Alfred Deakin, (later PM of Aust.), Richard Chamberlain, Archbishops Dunne & Duhig, Sister Elizabeth Kenny, Duke of Windsor, Dame Nellie Melba.
The 1891 census records a Clifton population of 278 which, by the census of 1921, had grown to 992. By 1903 town had three hotels, two banks and four churches.
The Clifton dairy factory opened in 1908 and enlarged with a new building in 1933. By 1940 the dairy factory had 522 suppliers. In the 1920s the town gained new and better facilities: the Tivoli picture theatre (1921) and a new memorial hall with a school of arts (1926). Misfortune came with the destruction of the hall in 1940, the fires consuming library contents and historic materials. Reticulated electricity was switched on in 1934.
The intervention of the Depression and the war suspended most projects except for new shire offices (1941) and an early postwar co-operative hospital (1949). Reticulated town water (1964) and sewering (1972) completed the range of town utilities, and the modern essentials, a high school and a swimming pool, were opened in 1966 and 1967.
While those facilities were being built dairying was in decline. The dairy factory was closed in 1966 - later becoming home to the historical society - and wheat growing was reduced in favour of barley and other cereals. The silos at the railway station were kept working at capacity.
Clifton has local shops, a town newspaper, four churches, a memorial hall), a swimming pool, a showground, Catholic and State primary schools, a high school (1966), bowls, golf, an annual race meeting, and a hospital. A number of local shops in Fisher Street were destroyed by fire in 2008. Clifton’s population has grown since the 1980s as it is within commuting distance of both Toowoomba and Warwick.
The above history is compiled from various sources.