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The Cleikum Inn (named after the one in Walter Scott's novel St Ronan’s Well) was on the western bank of the Swan River opposite the township of Guildford, and therefore in West Guildford (Bassendean). It was established by James and Jane Dodds, and was actually their house. It was on the south side of the Perth road, at the point where there would later be - and is now - a bridge over the river. (There is now something like an aged care facility on the site.)
Although small and sparsely populated, West Guildford did boast a very important establishment which became the centre of the small community at Guildford in the early years of the colony. The Cleikum Inn was the site of meetings of the Agricultural Society, the Guildford Kangaroo Hunt and the yearly auction for tenders for the horse ferry which plied between the Guildford township and Dodd’s landing. The capable host of the Cleikum Inn was James Dodds, who with his wife Jane and their five children arrived on the Rockingham in May 1830. Although designating himself a “gardener”, James had enough capital to bring himself and his family to the colony and also enable him to select 2,040 acres. He chose an allotment of 20 acres in West Guildford and it was here that he later built his inn which he named the Cleikum after the one featured in Sir Walter Scott's novel St Ronan’s Well.
The first home James Dodds built for his family was at a point just above the ferry landing, but the floods of that winter inundated the cottage and destroyed most of the possessions James and Jane had so carefully selected and brought with them to the Swan River. There was nothing for it but to rebuild - this time on higher ground - and start all over again. Despite the early setbacks, the Dodds were, by 1832, well established in their new home and had employed a servant girl, Ann Dewar, the eldest daughter of John Dewar, J. Turner’s indentured servant. In July of that year, Dodds added to his grant another 20 acre lot adjoining the house site. On this piece of ground he planted a garden, cultivated fruit trees and kept his stock and, with a shrewd eye to the needs of their fellow colonists, James and his wife converted their home into an inn.
The Dodds' venture soon became a success and the Cleikum Inn established a name for itself through the excellence of the fare and the hospitality of the host. In January, 1834 the Agricultural Society published its minutes in the Perth Gazette and added:
“The ample provision made by Mr. Dodds, the proprietor of the Cleikum Inn, for the comfort and convenience of the members, gave general satisfaction; the meeting [of the Agricultural Society] will consequently be held at his house”
The meetings had been held at George Williams’ inn, possibly situated close to where the Woodbridge Hotel is now, but at the beginning of 1834, Williams moved to Perth and opened the Perth Hotel.
Previous to this, the Cleikum was the gathering point for the grandly styled Guildford Kangaroo Hunt whose members, most of them also in the Agricultural Society, boasted many of the colony’s leading gentlemen - among them George Fletcher Moore, William Locke Brockman, who was its secretary, and Peter Broun. (Carter: 43-44)
Nine months later [that is, in 1840] Smithers announced that he was taking over the Cleikum Inn at Guildford. In January 1843 he left for London on the Houghton-le-Skerne. (Tuckfield: 81)
Carter, Jennie 1986, Bassendean: A Social History 1829-1979, Bassendean Town Council.
Tuckfield, Trevor 1971, 'Early colonial inns and taverns', Part 1, Early Days: Journal and proceedings of the Royal Western Australian Historical Society, 7, 3: 65-82; Part 2, Early Days, 7, 7: 98-106.
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