Vulcan Hotel not open for first time after 140-year run

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the ghost of St Bathans landmark Vulcan Hotel has seen a lot in her time — but nothing like this.

For the first time in 140 years, St Bathans’ landmark Vulcan Hotel is closed, leaving her to wander the building alone.

A handwritten sign in the window reads: ‘‘Vulcan Hotel closed, sorry for any inconvenience.’’

Covid-19 and its impact — as well as questions of ownership and obtaining a new liquor licence — mean the historic pub is closed, at least for now.

For the ex-publicans Jude and Mike Kavanagh, the story is complicated and begins after a lease-to-buy agreement fell through.

‘‘That place hasn’t been closed for 140 years,’’ Mrs Kavanagh said.

Mrs Kavanagh said she and her husband put the hotel up for sale in December 2018, after 20 years behind the bar, due to Mr Kavanagh’s poor health.

They felt it was time.

A year later it was off the market after a deal was struck with West Melton man Brendan Richards, to lease the hotel.

‘‘When he was meant to come up with the money, he wouldn’t sign the contract.

‘‘He just walked out.’’

That left the hotel without a liquor licence, as it was held by Mr Richards, and there was no option but to close, Mrs Kavanagh said.

Eftpos, electricity, and telephone accounts had also gone with Mr Richards.

Relations had been tense since, Mrs Kavanagh said.

Mrs Kavanagh said she had applied for a new liquor licence, and a local person had shown an interest in taking over a lease.

Mr Richards, however, has a different take and said he did not simply ‘‘walk out’’.

He had been working with his bank to confirm a loan for the lease-to-buy agreement when the pandemic hit.

Of particular concern for banks was any loan relating to the hospitality industry due to Covid-19’s impact on tourism, Mr Richards said.

He said the building was owned by a company called Peyman Holdings with six shareholders, including himself and the Kavanaghs.

Mr Richards said the shareholder agreement meant the Kavanaghs could not sell it outright and he and other shareholders had placed a caveat on the property.

He said the closure of the hotel was temporary until legal issues had been ironed out.

Mr Richards said he had offered to buy out the Kavanaghs and had offered to pay some money up front with the balance to be paid in six to seven months. ‘‘They said ‘no’.’’

Mr Richards said he believed the situation was not at an impasse and potentially Peyman Holdings would take the hotel over and install a manager.

Until then, the watering hole will stay closed with its most famous alleged resident, the ghost of a prostitute nicknamed ‘‘The Rose’’, who died more than 100 years ago, without companionship.