CRAIGMORE GUEST HOUSE, QUEEN ST. YAMBA
It was reported in the 11 March 1924 Issue of DEX that Grafton architect, FWC Schaeffer, has been commissioned to design and draw up plans etc for a fine large modern boarding house to accommodate seaside visitors to Yamba. To contain 26 rooms in the main building of concrete with a ramp verandah 33 feet 6 inches long by 9 feet wide. The building was expected to be completed by September 1924. From a Title Search: In May 1924, John Prentice “Jack” McDonald, a bricklayer of Grafton, purchased Lots 8 and 9 in DP6907 from James Arthur Long and part Allotment 16 from Charles Henry Tindal – site of future Craigmore Guesthouse.
Craigmore nearing completion
Following building approval from Harwood Shire Council, JP McDonald, builder of Grafton, placed a Public Notice in 22 March 1924 DEX calling for tenders to cart 26,000 super feet of timber, cement, lime and other materials from Yamba wharf to a building site in Clarence Street near the Park.
He was in partnership with his brother-in-law, Archie Clement Arber Cook. They purchased the Sea View Boarding House nearby in Queen Street at the same period and when Craigmore was completed, Archie ran Sea View and John ran Craigmore.
A public Invitation was extended for the official opening of Craigmore Guesthouse at Yamba on Saturday 08 November 1924. Dancing and supper was provided by the proprietors, Messrs McDonald & Cook. They advertised Electric Light throughout, Tennis Court, Motor Garages and a delightful table, all for moderate rates.
When the Yamba Town Improvement Committee was formed in June 1925, both McDonald and Cook were keen supporters and held weekly fund raising dances. McDonald was president of the Yamba Golf Club Committee when it was formed in September 1925. The course was located where the Beachside development exists in 2019. They held numerous fund raising functions in aid of the golf club as well as the Yamba Surf Life Saving Club.
Tennis court added
As early as 1926, concerns were expressed by Harwood Shire Council re the encroaching sand menace from the south which was threatening to swamp the guest houses and beyond. Unfortunately, council had no answer to the problem and it was not until 1932 that a resident of Sea View guest house, William Ager and another man began the laborious task of laying down numerous sand traps and wind breaks of it-tree bushes. Lantana, mangrove and other natural were planted and watered daily from the spring well below Craigmore using 1000 feet of galvanised iron piping and a long hose.
In 1927, McDonald applied to Harwood Shire Council for permission to blast, remove and prepare for a swimming pool in the rock formation on the sea front below Craigmore. At the September 1928 meeting of council, the District Surveyor of Grafton Land Board wrote to council advising of an application by J McDonald of Craigmore Boarding House for a permissive occupancy of a portion of the rocks below Craigmore for purpose of excavating baths which are to be fenced in and used exclusively by his guests. The Board was not in favour of the proposal and Council endorsed this refusal.
In February 1928, Yamba Town Improvement Committee suggested to council that forming and gravelling of portion of Queen Street, Yamba from the main road leading into town [Clarence Street] to Craigmore would give a good entrance to the [Yamba] Park. It was not until May 1930 that contractor Anderson commenced operations for the YUAC on 05th in front of Craigmore and The Ritz. Two roadways were to be laid down, each 15’6” wide with a dividing space of 10’ for planting of ornamental trees. One way in and one way out.
Yamba Urban Area was proclaimed in 1929 and extended to Angourie Road, replacing the Yamba Town Improvement committee. A three man Urban Area Committee was established in 1930, working under the umbrella of Harwood Shire Council and identifying community needs such as water supply and roadworks. It received finance from council and operated autonomously until 1986.
At the June 1930 meeting of the YUAC, Mr J McDonald of “Craigmore” applied on behalf of the Craigmore Croquet Club for a croquet green, 72’ by 60’, situated in Clarence (Yamba) Park and enclosed by fencing. The green would be open to public membership with all proceeds going to the Yamba Urban Area Committee. Held over until a site inspection but it was apparently approved as it was advertised as one of the attractions at Craigmore in September.
In April 1931, plans submitted by J McDonald for extensions to Craigmore Guest House were forwarded to Harwood Shire Council for approval. From a report in the 06 June 1933 Issue of DEX: Mr and Mrs John McDonald who have run Craigmore Guest House at Yamba for the past 9 years have gone on a 12 month holiday in their new Dodge motor car and Mrs W Bennett of "Glen Gair" Glen Innes has been appointed manager in their absence. After the holiday, they intend to supervise the carrying out of additions and improvements to Craigmore for which plans have already been prepared. They returned home in August 1934. Approval was again granted by council to John McDonald of Craigmore Guest House for alterations and extensions in February 1936 for extensive additions to garage accommodation for his guests. Approval to applications by John McDonald for alterations and additions to Craigmore Guest House in February 1939.
Reported in October 1942 that Craigmore Guest House had been closed for a short period to undergo improvements and renovations. Mr John McDonald had returned from Sydney to supervise. This involved renovations to a cottage which McDonald owned, adjoining The Ritz Guest House, to provide additional tourist accommodation.
In September 1934, the YUAC arranged for kerb and guttering to be placed in Queen Street from Clarence Street to the Craigmore Guesthouse.
From the 22 January 1936 Issue of Northern Star: Yamba is becoming an increasingly popular North Coast holiday resort and this year attracted many people from the Richmond River district. The part played in popularising a resort by such a guest house as "Craigmore," conducted by Mr. John McDonald, is difficult to estimate. This house has its own tennis court, full-sized billiard table kept in excellent order, resident orchestra, septic system, hot and cold water in eight bathrooms, running water in every bedroom, and the excellent table is a well-known feature. The house this year attracted visitors from Sydney, Newcastle, South Coast, Tablelands and Western Districts and from many parts of Queensland in addition to North Coast residents. Such an establishment is an asset to a seaside resort and, since it is profitable at a reasonable tariff at Yamba, there would surely be excellent openings for similar guest houses at other North Coast resorts. They would certainly help to draw visitors and meet a demand that hotels, frequently owing to their situations, do not entirely meet.
In May 1946, following an on site inspection by members of the YUAC, a proposed site for the re-erection of the Soldiers' Memorial Obelisk [Cenotaph] opposite the Yamba Public School was rejected due to possible future traffic problems. It was suggested that a better alternative site was in the circular plot at the traffic terminus in Queen Street in front of Craigmore. This was agreed to and Mr T Quinn was given permission to undertake removal from the corner of his garage complex and undertake re-erection at his own expense.
June 1952 photograph of Craigmore Guest House c1960 photograph of Craigmoor Private Hotel.
1946 aerial showing sand inundation restoration works,
Cenotaph relocated from Wooli Street to out front of Craigmore complex.
1946 to 1950 photo of the Queen Street streetscape.
Tenders were called by the YUAC in July 1947 for a concrete path from Craigmore to The Ritz and thence to Clarence Street corner in Queen Street.
In July 1950, following days of torrential rain, a sudden subsidence occurred on the 29th beneath Craigmore Guest House at Yamba, which left one corner of the 2 storey building suspended over a large hole. Proprietor, John McDonald estimated £2000 repair bill.
On 17 October 1950, Maclean Fire Brigade tried unsuccessfully to contain a fire at The Ritz guest house, which it is believed started in the kitchen. The building on the seaward side comprised five "Craigmore Flats" owned by James Prentice McDonald. Only one was occupied at the time by Mr and Mrs JKS Lowe and family of Grafton. The latter was saved except for burnt walls.
An auction sale was held on 27 February 1960 for Craigmore Private Hotel: containing 34 bedrooms, dining room seating 72 people, lounge room, billiard room, Hot and Cold water supply, septic system. 182 foot frontage to the Pacific Ocean. 04 September 1963 Issue of DEX: Craigmore Guest House, one of the best known in Northern NSW for past 38 years has been bought by Sydney businessman and television producer, Mr Reginald Noel Robertson of Castlecrag from John McDonald. A former Woolgoolga resident, Mrs Eunice Muffet of Marylands was to live at Craigmore as manageress. Mr Robertson stated he intended to spend £6000 in completely renovating Craigmore and then to build a swimming pool on the ocean frontage for the use of guests. The dining room would be open to the public and present chef for the past 25 years, Jim McDonald, would be staying on at Craigmore.
30 January 1964 issue of DEX has “Death Notice – McDONALD, John – Of Yamba, at Maclean Hospital, 18/1/64, dearly beloved husband of Nina, father of James (Yamba) and Jessie (Mrs. Harold Wain, of Sydney). Aged 81 [sic – 82] years – At Rest.”.
08 February 1964 issue of DEX has Obituary for late John Prentice McDonald He was born on 28 January 1882 at Stirling East, Adelaide, the eldest son of late Mr James Prentice (1851 at Gorbals, Glasgow, Lanarkshire - 29 March 1913 at Fingal, Tasmania) and Mrs Janet "Jessie" (nee Gemmell, 1859 - 1932) McDonald, now of Fingal, Tasmania.
He married twice [first wife Esther nee Setchfield (1888 - 1944), married 1911 at Sydney, two children], second wife Nina Laura Maud (nee Thompson) Rankin, widow of the late WFB Rankin of Townsville (1900 - 1980), married 08 August 1946 at Brisbane, no issue] and ran Craigmore Guest House at Yamba for 40 years.
He was a member of Yamba Bowling Club and supported of Yamba SLS Club and a keen sportsman in younger days in cricket, tennis and football. He was a builder by trade in the early days in Richmond and Clarence districts. He was buried at Maclean Cemetery by Rev. Mr Boorman.
He was survived by his widow (Nina [married about 1947] McDonald); son James Prentice McDonald (31 July 1912 - 1985); daughter Jessie Edna (Mrs Harold Wain, Sydney) and three sisters Jessie Prentice (1883 - 1967, Mrs AC Cook, Grafton), Annie (1887 - 1967, Mrs O’Donnell, Sydney), Marian Morrison Grace (1905 - 1972, Mrs Tierney, Newcastle), and one brother, Hector James (1902 - 1967).
His sisters, Janet MacFarlane McDonald (1884 - 1886), Ellen Margaret Morrison McDonald (1892 - 1920), Margaret Janet McDonald (1894 - 24 January 1950), Mary McDonald (1899 - ????) and brothers, James Prentice McDonald jnr(1890 - 19 March 1939) and Norman McDonald (1897 - 1946) predeceased him at Adelaide. He was also predeceased by his first wife, Esther, who died on 21 June 1944 at Naremburn. [Additional information from ancestry.com]
From Title Search: In December 1966, Commercial Hotel (Grafton) Pty Limited purchased Lots 8 and 9 DP6907 and part Allotment 16 containing the Craigmore Guest House from Reginald Noel Robertson of Castlecrag, Company Director, who had purchased the property from Nina Laura Maud McDonald of Yamba, Widow of John McDonald (his second marriage) and David Robert Law of Grafton, Solicitor in December 1966. The property was transmissioned to them from estate of John McDonald of Grafton, Bricklayer and guest house proprietor who died on 18 January 1964 and had owned the land since June 1924.
Back in March 1931, following approved alterations to Craigmore Guest House by John McDonald of Yamba, it was found that the building encroached upon Queen Street by 8 feet 9 inches. Council agreed by letter not to take action. In February 1966, McDonald made application to Council at its meeting to purchase 9 feet of Queen Street and it was approved. In Government Gazette of 28 March 1969, there was a notification of an application by Commercial Hotel (Grafton) Pty Ltd for the closing of a 3 feet wide strip of Queen Street which adjoined the road closed by GG of 02 October 1959. Government Gazette of 11 July 1969 notifies closure of the 3 feet wide section of Queen Street.
In December 1967, it was announced that Craigmore Guest House was to be demolished to make way for a three-storey block of home units at the end of January 1968 with work expected to begin on the new building in early February. The owners, Commercial Hotel Grafton Pty. Ltd have applied to Maclean Shire Council for permission to erect 12 home units with provision for parking on the lower ground floor. Managing Agents, Dougherty Bros Pty Ltd of Grafton stated the units would be put up for sale as soon as the architect's (Manning Richards and McDonald of Grafton) plans were finished. Each unit will comprise 2 bedrooms, living area, kitchen, tiled bathroom and laundry.
In May 1968, an artist's impression was published in the DEX of the $250,000 home unit development at Yamba to be known as "Craigmore" which was due to begin construction within the next few weeks. A flood of initial inquiries resulted in an extension of the project to three storeys comprising eighteen units with separate parking. The site was eventually cleared and construction begun on 06 February 1969 on the project by contractor, WJ Green & Son of Casino. Units were available for occupancy by December.
Researched and Written by John McNamara