A Brief History of Nelsons:
The main building was built in the 1890's and was used by various owners as a hotel between 1899 and 1904. These included J.S Warner, hence the original name ‘Warner Hotel’. It was known that Mr Crawford was the licensee of the the Freemasons Hotel (1905), and so one can assume that he took the Warner licence to the Freemasons.
The building had numerous owners and occupiers over the years, and for a period of time was left unoccupied. It has been used as a private house, an Italian intern's camp during the war, a coffee shop, a deli, a doctors’ surgery (Dr H.E.H. Ferguson and Dr Williams), and a dental surgery. Mrs. Jesse Brierley owned the building for forty years, and in 1973 built the motel rooms at the rear (Phillips Street Side).
At the end of 1988, the Bridgetown Motel was bought by Graham Donovan who soon became affectionately known as Basil (Fawlty Towers). He quickly developed Nelsons Dining Room, which became famous for its fine food and fun and friendly service. Basil hosted many Christmases in July, Murder Mysteries and Fawlty Tower weekends at Nelsons, for which the motel became quite well known.
Basil's vision did not stop there, and in the mid 90's he purchased the property next door and turned an eyesore on the main street into the finest motel facilities for miles around consisting of deluxe executive spa units, beautiful cottage gardens and a function centre, which we are lucky to enjoy today.
The Motel and Nelsons Restaurant have been recognized with a string of awards over the years, including receiving national recognition for the accommodation in the Sir David Brand Awards for Tourism several years in a row between 1992 and 2000.
History of Bridgetown:
In the year 2000, Bridgetown was the 8th town in Western Australia to be listed by the National Trust and granted historic town status.
The first explorer into the area was Thomas Turner, an Augusta settler, who traced the Blackwood River upstream to the Arthur River in 1834. He was followed a decade later by surveyor A.C. Gregory, who first explored the area in 1845 and returned to carry out a survey in 1852.
Between 1872 and 1879, the population grew steadily, if somewhat slowly, as evidenced by the following facts gleaned from the newspaper of the time. In 1879 the area had no doctor or justice of the peace, there were only twenty householders, but mention was made of several stores, public houses and other establishments.
The district was referred to by various names as gleaned from early writings i.e. Blackwood, Geegiup, Geegelup, Geegeelup and Geegerlup.
However, it was apparently Mr John Allnutt who suggested the name Bridgetown in 1865.