23 April 2020
VIRTUAL FUN WITH HISTORY - WEEK 4by PORT FAIRY & REGION VISITOR INFORMATION CENTRE
Ahh the Merrijig Inn…of historical significance as one of the oldest surviving hotels in Victoria.
Are you familiar with the history of the Merrijig Inn?
Well look no further as we deep dive into how the Merrijig came to be …
Ahh the Merrijig Inn…of historical significance as one of the oldest surviving hotels in Victoria. Its location facing the site of the original jetty is central to the understanding of the development of Port Fairy in the 1840s following its officially sanctioned settlement.
In September 1845, William Middleton executed a lease with James Atkinson for the land at the corner of Campbell and Gipps Streets and commenced construction of the inn, known at the time as the Royal Merrijig Inn. The Merrijig became one of the first stone buildings in Belfast (the early name for Port Fairy) and is made of limestone - unlike many other stone buildings in the town made from bluestone.
As Port Fairy was thriving into a town of early settlers, squatters and whalers, Middleton realised there was an opportunity to establish an inn where he could cater for these people during the early years of the Port Fairy settlement.
After years of success as an Inn, the government acquired the lease of Middleton’s property for public purposes in 1853. The Royal Merrijig Inn was converted into a large two story building and was remodeled to use as the police barracks and government offices. The Merrijig was continually repurposed into a local court house, and then the Belfast District Road Board.
After the government found other sites for their purposes, they decided to dispose of the building and it was later sold to Captain Frederick Trouten in 1885.
Trouten kept the property until he died in 1896. His widow later sold the property in 1901 in three parts; Merrijig House, allotments in Campbell Street, and various allotments facing Gipps Street.
In the 1980s, the Merrijig Inn was renovated and reopened as a small private hotel and restaurant, and is still operating today, claiming Victoria's oldest inn!