By Daisy Baker
31 October, 2018
PEGGY Kendall says she spent 47 “good years” running Kendall’s Hotel, which she and her husband Merv bought in the mid-1950s.
They transformed it from the rundown Scottsdale Hotel into a venue that drew a roaring tourist trade.
Within the first few years of owning the hotel, the Kendalls built on 12 new rooms, a foyer, a new dining room, loungeroom, kitchen, and function room.
“I was the first one on the North-East coast to have a smorgasbord and we were the first ones on the North-East to have motel units,” she says.
“I could seat three busloads of tourists, which is about 90 people.
“Each year when show time came, the Governor used to come up and open the show and I had the privilege of serving several governors a luncheon at my hotel.”
She juggled running the hotel around raising their three children, David, Judy and Helen.
Running a hotel was not new to Peggy, who had previously worked at the Scamander and St Marys hotels from the age of 16.
While working at the St Marys Hotel she developed an interest in travel and a thirst for adventure.
“In those days, they didn’t have the big tourist buses, it was just five passengers and a driver and they were the tourists,” she says.
“I listened to the stories of the tourists, what they’d done and seen and that really gave me something to look forward to in the future.
“I saved up and decided it was time I go and see the other half of the world.”
She and a friend from Burnie spent some time in Melbourne, and then worked at a nursing home in Adelaide but then Peggy became homesick and very ill.
The doctors sent her home to “good old Tassie”, back to St Marys.
“And that’s where I met by beloved Merv, my husband to be,” she smiles.
“He was an engine driver who drove the train from Launceston to St Marys, a goods train.”
Before long, the pair became great friends.
She says Merv was not just a companion, but also an older brother and father figure all at the same time.
“He was the person to guide me and put me on the right track,” she says.
“He got transferred by the railway to Scottsdale and he left little Peggy behind. I was 16 and really in love.
“So I got transferred to Scottsdale and got a position at Lord’s Hotel and shortly after took a job at the old Scottsdale Hotel, working for Mr and Mrs Steele.”
Before Merv and Peggy bought this and turned it into Kendall’s, they spent several years as milk vendors.
It had always been a dream of Merv’s to run a hotel, so when it came on the market, they looked into it and the rest is history.
Over the years the pair had several pacers, including champion pacer, Star of Broadway.
Peggy also became a keen orchid grower, joining the local orchid club, which she says was one of the best orchid clubs in the state for a small area.
“I won quite a few prizes for my orchids,” she says.
“We held the 13th Tasmanian Orchid Show here in Scottsdale.
“I then went to all the capital cities in Australia, following orchid conferences and orchid shows.”
Peggy still grows orchids today, and the trick, she says pointing at some in a vase in her kitchen, is to grow them in horse manure.