Dangin, the town where my mother grew up, had water but it didn’t have alcohol and that lack contributed to its slow decline.
The founder of the town, Jonah Parker, came from a devout Methodist family and according to legend, promised his mother that alcohol would not be sold within 5 miles of the new town. In 1908 he decided to build a hotel in Dangin but it was not to be like any other hotel. In keeping with his promise, Parker’s hotel would be a Temperance Hotel and alcohol would not be served. Instead, soft drinks and meals along with accommodation would be provided.
It was quite the modern building and no expense was spared in its construction. The second floor was mostly accommodation and on the ground floor were two spacious dining-rooms along with a billiard-room, commercial, smoke, music, and drawing rooms. It included the latest indoor toilets managed with a septic tank system.
It did have a bar, but it only served soft drink prepared on the premises by an innovative aerated water plant.
The hotel opened on 2nd December 1910 amid much fanfare. Among the many dignitaries was Sir Walter James, previously a premier of WA who is quoted in the West Australian as saying:
“ this was the only inland district in the State which had a genuine temperance hotel. The idea of building up a town undefiled by drunkenness he described as a noble and most commendable one, and it proved that Mr. Parker had ideals higher than mere money-making. His was the true public spirit-an unselfish love for the district he lived in. “ (TROVE – link below)
Sir Walter’s opinions were backed up by other speakers including Mr. Marwick, M.L.C. who congratulated Parker on the venture and expressed his opinion that:
“ the temperance bodies would do more to minimise the evils of drink if they depended less on legislation and followed the example of Mr. Parker in providing the public with all the comforts and conveniences of a hotel without the evils attached to licensed premises. “ (TROVE – link below)
Meanwhile, up the road about 5 miles (8kms) away, another town was being established – Quairading. In February 1909 they too were building a hotel and this one would serve alcohol.
The rest as they say is history. Dangin, the home of the pub with no beer, enjoyed a period of activity and expansion including the building of a hospital and maternity home in 1914 but it didn’t last. Parker sold the Temperance Hotel in 1921 to a consortium of local people. It became a hostel and during the Second World War, housed students evacuated from Perth. In 1944 ownership passed to the Country Women’s Association (CWA) on the proviso that the no-alcohol rule was maintained.
Quairading, the town with the pub that did have beer, continued to expand. So much so that in 1950, when the Quairading council wanted to provide accommodation for workers, they bought the Dangin Temperance hotel from the CWA supposedly to build flats in Dangin for their workers. But, before the CWA could protest, the hotel was dismantled, and the materials used to build houses – in Quairading. (inherit Website – link below)
All that remains of the Temperance Hotel in Dangin now is the Heritage Trail marker that sits in front of an empty field.