Beacham's Unicorn Hotel & Billiards 131 Sturt Street

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The current Unicorn Ballarat, formerly the Unicorn mine claim and shaft, has traded under different names including Healy's, Honan's, and Beacham's Unicorn Hotel.

A very faint sign can still be seen on its side advertising Dining and Billiard Rooms. You can see it in former days in one of the photographs below. At the top of the front verandah you might also see a trace of signage recalling a past proprietress, a Mrs E Beacham - one of Ballarat's many female publicans - who boasted of comfort and relaxation at "Ballarat's oldest Established Residential Hotel."

Billiards were a popular pastime in Ballarat, with rooms here as well as at the Mechanics' Institute just down the way (pictured below). During the world-wide resurgence of billiards in the late 1870s, the Mechanics Institute purchased four full size snooker tables for a dedicated room on the top floor. Such tables can still be seen and used at the Old Colonists Club on Lydiard St.

The earliest reference to the Unicorn Hotel appears in The Miner 1856, when Thomas Vaughan was the publican. The hotel was the third to be erected in West Ballarat, after Baths (now Craigs Royal Hotel) and The George, and became the centre of exciting incidents connected with the original Mining Exchange next door. The building used to feature a parapet which extended out over the balcony carrying a unicorn.

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