Historical information

This object features a key with a labelled tag attached to it. It was once the key to the well-known Nepean Hotel. Also known locally as 'The Castle', likely due to its grand size and turret-like tower, the Nepean Hotel was officially established in 1872 by James Sandle Ford (https://poi-australia.com.au/points-of-interest/australia/victoria/portsea/approximate-site-ford-family-nepean-hotel-c-1870-pt-nepean-rd-near-fitzjohns-crt-portsea-mornington-peninsula-vic/).
Born in 1811, Ford was only nineteen years old when he was sentenced to seven years transportation for 'Machine Breaking' in 1830. (https://nepeanhistoricalsociety.asn.au/james-sandle-ford/). He arrived in Van Diemen's Land (Tasmania) in 1831 and served five years of his sentence, before being pardoned in 1836.
Ford met and married Irish immigrant Hannah Sullivan in 1841 in Sydney. The following year, the couple settled in Point Nepean.
Ford is often accredited with the naming of the town of Portsea - after Portsea in Hampshire, UK - and spent a lifetime establishing himself throughout the area. This included: lime burning, dairying, horse judging and breeding, and the cultivation of land and livestock. Ford died in 1890, however his hotel continued to operate for many decades, run by his descendants - including Julia Cain during the first half of the twentieth century (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/65817831) (https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/3734533). The hotel was demolished in 1971.


This object is significant as it is important in relation to the development and prosperity of the area of Point Nepean.

Physical description

A door key with a rusted surface. One end of the key features a single set of teeth with three notches. Attached to the other end is a rounded handle with a hole through the middle. Looped through the hole is a piece of thin, rusted wire. The wire is looped through both the key and a hole in a white square-shaped tag. Printed on the tag are the words: 'CAIN'S HOTEL PORTSEA'.

Inscriptions & markings