Carrington Hotel - Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism

The Grand Old Lady
© Gregory North, August 2013
Written for the 130th birthday celebrations of Katoomba's Carrington Hotel

She's called the Grand Old Lady … and that's true.
Her celebration's really overdue.
Although it's rude to ask a lady's age,
we have her year of birth in History's page.
It seems to me this anniversary's late
but that, I'll leave for others to debate.

She's called the Grand Old Lady, that's no joke,
but here's a laugh, her name comes from a bloke!
A pommy bloke, who wore a fancy hat –
a Gentleman-at-Arms and diplomat:
Lord Carrington – state governor, you know,
and one of many men she's had in tow.

A mistress to so many she's been with,
like Rowell, Goyder, Peacock, Joynton-Smith,
and Morris, Jarvis and Brischetto too,
plus royalty and movie stars right through
to politicians – good or in disgrace –
and most PMs were kept a special place!

For many years, to have a little 'fun'
one only had to phone Katoomba 1!
This Grand Old Lady still has great appeal:
between the sheets, for drinks or for a meal.
To make her callers happy, she won't stop,
and in Katoomba, she's the one on top.

Now through the years she's grown to quite a size
but that's no issue to our modern eyes.
She's had a bit of work done here and there;
Paul Sorenson ensured a bit of flair
and many of her lovers changed her style
but still she has the power to beguile.

Her power, quite electric, made her crack –
she started smoking like a chimney stack!
She's given up the smokes, I'm glad to say;
co-generation's where she's at today.
And though her modern thinking has increased,
she still adores a wedding, ball or feast.

Let's recognise what's given her renown:
she forged Katoomba as a tourist town.
And even if the date's not quite exact,
we can't pass up a party due to fact.
No matter the occasion, wish her well:
let's hear it for the Carrington Hotel!

About the poem:
The Carrington Hotel, previously named the Great Western Hotel, is often referred to as "The Grand Old Lady of the Blue Mountains", which is where the poem title comes from.
When researching for this poem, the only opening date for the hotel I could find was 1882, which would make the hotel 131 years old at the time of the celebration. However, the Hotel's historian, Paul Innes, has found evidence that it was opened on 15th August 1883. Without this information, I thought celebrations were one year too late.
In 1886 the hotel was renamed The Carrington after the encumbent Governor of NSW, Lord Charles Robert Wynn-Carrington, who had served as Captain of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen-at-Arms
Harry Rowell, Frederick C Goyder, Sir James Joynton-Smith and Theo Morris were previous owners of the hotel, Arthur L Peacock was a manager and lessee. Mark Jarvis and Michael Brischetto are the current owners.
It’s said that several Prime Ministers had a permanent suite, No.1 on the second floor.
When the telephone service started in Katoomba, the Carrington was the first of the 17 subscribers connected and
had the number Katoomba 1.
The hotel is situated on the top of the hill in Katoomba's main street and has been extended several times.
Prominent landscape designer Paul Sorenson's first job in NSW was at the Carrington Hotel. He went on to design many significant gardens including the National Trust's Everglades Gardens.
In 1913 the hotel began producing electricity by burning coal beneath its landmark chimney. It serviced not only the hotel, but towns from Woodford to Mt Victoria, albeit illegally. It seems Council didn’t have the right to grant a franchise for electricity generation. So after 12 years or so, it had to stop.
Today the Carrington has a co-generation plant that heats water and makes electricity.
The Carrington Hotel is what made Katoomba a tourist town and is still well worth a visit today.

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© Gregory North 2013. Photos by Blue Mountains Lithgow & Oberon Tourism, Andrew Bosman and Gregory North. Updated 
August 2013