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Local History - Pubs

The Hopetoun Hotel - a colonial survivor? (2013) (2.1 MB)

A very early hotel, originally opened as the Cockatoo Inn in 1846, the Hopetoun has used five different names from its early days as a Victorian Georgian building to its purchase by the Tooth’s brewery in 1901 when it received a makeover in the Federation Boom style. It is a typical corner pub in its contribution to sports, entertainment, food and accommodation in the area. The pub’s heyday was in the 1980s when it enthusiastically promoted new rock music bands. Unfortunately, noise complaints and Council regulations caused its sudden closure in 2009, and it is still not clear if the pub has a future.

The Golden Fleece Hotel, Surry Hills (2018) (1.9 MB)

In 1840, the builder John Bluck erected Victoria House, a large sandstone villa, on the site of 538 Crown Street, Surry Hills. It became Bluck’s Family Hotel from 1843 until 1880, when a new owner demolished it and replaced with a brick building he called the Golden Fleece Hotel. This operated as a pub until the temperance movement, in the form of the Licences Reduction Board, closed it down in 1923 along with many others in the area. The former hotel and stables are today used for residential and commercial purposes.

Last drinks in Surry Hills: the Licences Reduction Board, 1920-23 (2019) (3.1 MB)

The 1830s was a time of peak alcohol consumption in the Australian colonies, leading to the rise of the temperance movement. By the 1850s, the movement was lobbying State Governments to regulate access to alcohol, with early successes being the Local Option and six o'clock closing. But these measures did not greatly reduce the number of hotels, of which there were thousands in NSW, so a Licences Reduction Board was established in 1920 as a more effective method. In a few years, several hundred pubs were closed down in the State, including 40% of those in Surry Hills, the suburb that is examined in detail.

The History of the Carrington Hotel, Surry Hills (2020) (2.1 MB)

Irish immigrant Thomas Whitty built the Criterion Hotel in 1877 during a period of prosperity in Sydney. The former Test cricketer Nat Thomson took over the licence in 1885 and initiated a seies of quoits tournaments nearby. The Carrington Athletic Grounds opened across Bourke Street in 1886 and the hotel was renamed the Carrington Grounds, then the Carrington in 1903 after the running field closed. The pub became a centre for drag shows in the 1990s, then a gastropub from 2011 with a successful Spanish-themed tapas restaurant. Today it caters for locals and sports fans with traditional pub food and live televised sports.

The History of the Cricketers' Arms Hotel, Surry Hills (2021) (1.8 MB)

When the British regiments departed NSW in the 1870s, their cricket ground in Moore Park was taken over by the Cricket Association, and the sport soon grew to Test Match status. The Cricketers' Arms Hotel was built near the park at this time to cater for the cricket players and their fans. The pub was also associated with the fledgling Australian Rules football code, and later with boxing when a well-known boxing referee became licensee in the 1940s. The Crix survives today as a popular local pub with a relaxed atmosphere and a traditional character.

Taking the Local Option - inner Sydney pub closures, 1908 (2023) (3.3 MB)

The temperance movement persuaded the New South Wales government to reduce the large number of pubs from the 1880s. Their initial success was the establishment of Local Option polls taken at three general elections from 1908. The first of these resulted in the majority of State electorates voting to reduce the number of pubs, in particular in Redfern and Alexandria in inner Sydney, where eleven pubs were closed.


John W. Ross.

Email: rossjw@ozemail.com.au

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