Skip to content

Thomas Joshua Jackson

Thomas Joshua Jackson was the lesser known of the Irish cousins whose firm Young and Jackson managed the Princes Bridge Hotel on the corner with Swanston Street across from Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station.

Thomas Joshua Jackson was the lesser known of the Irish cousins whose firm Young and Jackson managed the Princes Bridge Hotel on the corner with Swanston Street across from Melbourne’s Flinders Street Station.  The Princes Bridge Hotel inevitably became known as ‘Young and Jackson’s’ and has been frequented by hundreds of thousands of Melburnians and visitors since the partners took over the hotel in 1875.  It gained additional exposure after 1909 with the purchase of the painting Chloe, but this was after Jackson’s time.

A somewhat enigmatic figure, about 10 years older than his better-known partner, Jackson did not seek public office or become an especially prominent businessman.  He left no letters, diaries or public speeches on record.  He married late and had no children.  There remain gaps in knowledge about his antecedents and first years in Victoria and on the goldfields in New Zealand. Upon his death in 1901, his most public mark was as a partner in Young and Jackson’s; his most visible legacy is his home in Jolimont Road, East Melbourne, called Eblana.

In 1875, partners Jackson and Henry Figsby Young had, after eight years as licensees at Sparrow’s Hotel in St. Kilda, decided to take a chance on a new, but potentially highly lucrative new hotel opportunity.  Relinquishing their interest in Sparrow’s, they took up the building lease of the Princes Bridge Hotel from Joshua Mooney. Mooney was a well-known publican; he had previously been landlord of the Royal Hotel in St. Kilda.[1]  He was also well known to both Jackson and Young.  With license and lease in hand, they promptly made their mark with extensive renovations.  While the name of the hotel formally remained the Prince’s Bridge Hotel, the Young and Jackson firm and management of the hotel became so well known that it began to be referred to as ‘Young and Jackson’s’ even though this was simply the name of their firm

Some parts of the story of Thomas Joshua Jackson may never be told.  He was a quiet man who for periods of his life shunned any limelight which may have come his way.  Jackson was always the man in the background.  Mentor and lifelong partner to Henry Figsby Young, his cousin, he sought no public office or undue attention.  He drew media publicity just once and unhappily, when his business affairs with Montgomeries Brewing Company went badly for him.  Jackson left behind no letters, diaries and only one photograph of him is known to exist.  Yet for 30 years as a publican with Young at Sparrow’s Hotel and the (Young and Jackson’s) Princes Bridge Hotel, he must have been known personally to thousands of Melburnians.  Within the complex family relationships entwining the Heaton, Jackson, Connell and Young families, Jackson was a central figure.  It is unfortunate then that what is known of Jackson is often through the eyes of sometimes circumstantial records and information.

Jackson lived through one of the most exciting periods of Melbourne’s history.  When he arrived just 14 years after the Colony was proclaimed, Melbourne was a very raw town.  Bushrangers still held up travellers near the house signed as the Elsternwick Hotel after it had been built in 1854.  Albert Lake as it is known now was a swamp and in 1856 the future Young and Jackson’s Hotel was a butcher’s shop.  From such beginnings, and with luck at the New Zealand gold fields, Jackson and Young slowly but surely built a highly successful hotel business together.  It brought Jackson opportunities to also build his personal wealth, which he was able to do (Montgomeries notwithstanding).  And it brought Jackson to Jolimont, where for 20 years his house reflected both his success and provided him and his family a magnificent home in which to reflect on his journey in life.  This is why Eblana is a most important part to our understanding of the life and times of Thomas Joshua Jackson.

Full article published in:

‘Thomas Joshua Jackson (of “Young and Jackson’s Hotel”)’, Provenance: The Journal of Public Record Office Victoria, issue no. 10, 2011. ISSN 1832-2522. Copyright © Andrew Kilsby.

[1] Cooper, J.B., The History of St Kilda: From Its First Settlement to a City and After, 1840 – 1930, v.1., Printers Proprietary Limited, Melbourne, 1931, pp.84 and 227.