A Metropolitan Fire Board map from 1910 recently displayed by The Historic Houses Trust at the Justice and Police Museum shows an area of Sydney in which there were 160 pubs where there are fewer than 40 today. The six o'clock swill, sly groggers, SP bookmakers, and prostitutes of the turn of the century mean the culture of drinking establishments in those days won't be missed, but the classic buildings might be.
Pubs of The Rocks and Millers Point
Lord Nelson Hotel
The oldest working licensed hotel in the city (the license was first granted in June 1842), and one of only two hotels in the immediate area to be retained by the Sydney Harbour Trust when Millers Point was resumed during the time of the plague in 1900. The Lord Nelson Hotel, the Hero of Waterloo and a commercial terrace at 246 George Street are the only remaining examples of hotel buildings in the Old Colonial Regency style, which once were prolific in the inner city area. It was part of a network of corner hotels in the northern end of the city which provided social and recreational venues and budget accommodation. It is a smooth faced, three storey sandstone building with a hipped, corrugated asbestos cement roof, following the 'L-shaped' form of the building.
The land on which the Hotel is situated was originally part of the Crown Grant to the plasterer William Wells dated 14th May 1836 and part of the Grant (in trust) to Richard Driver dated 30th November 1840.
The hotel was constructed during the late 1830s by either Wells or a relative to a design by architect Michael Lehane. The sandstone blocks are believed to have been quarried at Kent Street quarry from the area at the base of Observatory Hill. The hotel's name recalls Vice Admiral Lord Viscount Nelson who was killed at the Battle of Trafalgar. This naval battle was won by Nelson's forces in Cadiz over a contingent of thirty three Spanish and French ships under Admirals Villeneuve and Gravina.
19 Kent Street, Millers Point
Hero Of Waterloo Hotel
One of 14 hotels scattered throughout the Millers Point section of The Rocks, it was a favourite drinking place of the military garrison stationed nearby. Built from sandstone excavated from the Argyle Cut, it was originally called the Young Princess. Legend has it that the hotel was used by sea captains to recruit crew members - unsuspecting patrons who had drunk themselves into a stupor are said to have been pushed through a trap door and carried away through underground tunnels to waiting ships in nearby Walsh Bay.
The Hero of Waterloo is none other than the Duke of Wellington, best known for defeating Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo, bringing an end to the Napoleonic era of European history. He was a conservative military leader who frequently won battles in difficult circumstances and inspired discipline and loyalty in his troops. Wellington became prime minister of Great Britain in 1828.
It is rumoured that in 1849, publican Thomas Kirkman pushed his wife, Anne, down the Hero s stairs to her death. In recent times, it has been said that the ghost of Anne Kirkman frequents the Hero. After upstairs functions rooms are reset for a new day, several chairs can be found facing the fireplace the next morning, even though nobody has been inside since the previous evening. Sometimes, in the middle of the night, classical music can be heard coming from the piano in the bar area. When the owners descend the stairs from the upstairs apartment where they live, the music eerily stops, the lid of the piano left open.
81 Lower Fort Street, Millers Point
Shipwrights Arms Hotel
Though no records exist to verify the exact year of its construction, this two storey brick house dates from the Macquarie period as it was built as a residence for a free settler who arrived in the colony in 1815. The sandstone used for its foundations came from the nearby Kent Street Quarry which was a major source of sandstone for building constructed in the western end of Sydney during the Macquarie era.
Its identity as one of five pubs in The Rocks to be called Shipwrights Arms had been lost until its restoration in 1968 when countless layers of paint were removed to reveal its former use. John Clarke its first licensee, operated the pub between 1833 and 1837. It is next door to the Hero Of Waterloo Hotel. Former Shipwrights Arms Hotel, 75 Windmill Street, Millers Point.
Not far away, at No. 69 Windmill Street, is anither building that used to be a pub, The Hit Or Miss Hotel. On another corner of Lower Fort Street and Windmill Street is the former Whalers Arms Hotel. It was renamed The Young Princess Hotel and then again renamed the Whalers Arms Hotel.
Whalers Arms Hotel
Located on corner of Lower Fort Street and Windmill Street, opposite the Hero Of Waterloo, Hotel, is the former Whalers Arms Hotel. SIt is a sandstone two storey corner building with attic and retains some of its original Georgian features. Built c. early 1840s for William Hutchinson, emancipist, principal superintendent of convicts, land owner, pastoralist and businessman. By November 1842 it was licensed as The Young Princess Hotel, and operated under this name until 1846.
The name of the hotel was changed to the Whalers Arms in 1847. In the 1850s the hotel was used for a short period as a shop, reverted to use as an hotel in the 1860s and then became a shop once more, a usage that continued until at least the mid-20th century. When resumed in 1900 the premises were still part of the estate of William Hutchinson, the original grantee, and became a residence again.
During the mid twentieth century it was converted into a general store, before being abandoned and left to deteriorate, helped by squatters who took up residence. In 2006 the Department of Housing granted a private client a 99 year lease on the condition that the property was meticulously restored in line with its heritage. Restoration included the stripping and rebuilding of the entire interior of the 4 story building and repairing and re-pointing all the external stone. Original balconies were reconstructed, the chimneys were rebuilt and the roof rebuilt and re-slated.
Captain Cook Hotel
The Captain Cook hotel opened its doors for business in 1874, in a newly built, four storey, brick hotel, with a shingle roof andeleven rooms. The hotel was built by local landlord Benjamin Lowe, who owned six properties in Millers Point,including shops and houses, and was run by publican William Boyd. The Captain Cook was the end building of two new commercial properties built by Lowe on the corner of Kent Street and Millers Road. Next door was John Boyce, a bootmaker and storekeeper.
The Captain Cook replaced an earlier hotel of the same name,which had been just around the corner in what was Clyde Street. Clyde Street and the old hotel were both demolished during the post plague reclamations of Millers Point and the Rocks after 1901.
The new Captain Cook Hotel joined a collection of hotels already in Millers Point, which provided welcome relief to the wharf workers and ships crews who toiled on the waterfront nearby. Like its neighbours, the Captain Cook took on a name that connected it to Sydney s maritime and military past. The Captain Cook Hotel quickly established itself in the community. Its six upstairs bedrooms provided accommodation for the publican s family as well as lodgers and local workers. The downstairs bar and parlours were used for public speaking during elections, as meeting places for local organisations,such as the Londoner s Association who met there in the 1880s and even by the coroner holding public enquiries into suspicious deaths.
Although well built, the Hotel almost didn t survive its first five years, nearly lost in a fire in 1878. A servant girl living upstairs, using acandle to light her way to bed, placed it in a box on the landing. Some dresses hanging above attracted the flame and ignited. Luckily some passing policemen were on hand to extinguish it. The same year, two men were arrested after breaking into the hotel. John Coghlan and George Evansused a chisel to pry the door of the bar open at 1.20am on a Tuesday morning to have a drink and a smoke in the bar. Years later, in 1904 Jeremiah Casey was arrested for stealing 24 electroplated spoons and forks from the dining room, getting three months hard labour for his trouble.
Built as a simple, late Victorian Hotel, its main door was on the diagonal corner of Kent and Miller Street, illuminated with a prominent gas light over the entrance, and with a large window facing Kent Street. By the turn of the 1900s the pub had been extended into Boyce s shop next door, with the bar running through the two buildings.
The Orient Hotel has been a landmark in the historic Rocks district of Sydney since 1844, and a favourite watering hole for generations of Sydneysiders. The hotel follows the typical late Colonial Georgian mold of corner siting, a curved corner faade with plain parapeted walls, smaller windows on the top floor than lower floors, and glazed in a twelve pane pattern. The building is constructed of stuccoed brick walls, timber floors, roof and joinery, it retained this form until 1920 when a three bayed western addition was built and in 1930 a single bay to the north was added together with awnings and wall tiling.
The building began life as a butchers shop and butcher's house in 1843. It was first used as a hotel in 1851. Today, the hotel has a restaurant on the first floor with a menu of modern Australian dishes and international favourites. On the top floor of the popular Orion Nightclub, where top DJs play hot party music every Saturday night from 10pm til 3am. The room is also available for private functions. The tree-shaded sandstone courtyard which backs onto historic Kendall Lane has plenty of seating for a relaxed lunch, cool afternoon drink or after-work party.
87-89 George Street (1843-1844, 1920 and 1931).
The Palisade Hotel
The original pub on this site was built around 1880 near the palisade fence that ran from Munn Street to Bettington Street and was popular with wharf workers before the Sydney Harbour Trust built the current five-storey Federation Free style structure. arooned from most of the tourist traffic in the Rocks, the Palisade remains pretty much what it was since its construction in 1912 on the site of an earlier pub of the same name.
It overlooks the wharves in Walsh Bay and is close to many old warehouses in this area, so was popular with wharfies and labourers who worked in the area. The name came from the palisade fence built between Munn Street and Bettington Street. The name is a reminder of a phase of the city's history now almost invisible to the casual onlooker. Like nearby Fort Street, it reminds us of a time when Sydney was a lonely outpost of Empire, its military governors issued with instructions to protect the settlement from attack by sea or land. Walls or palisades routinely surrounded ports in other parts of the Empire. Wellington and Auckland, where the threat from Maori was more apparent, went through such a phase. Australian cities, as it turned out, were seldom subjected to such attacks, and whatever walls or palisades their founders built were soon found to be unnecessary. Only in faint traces, such as placenames, is the memory of this first phase of the city's history still legible.
The bar is one of the cosiest and friendliest in Sydney - with views of the Harbour Bridge to boot. The pub and hotel was closed a few years ago for restoration work but the work has yet to be begin and the pub remains boarded up. 35 Bettington Street, Millers Point.
The Australian Heritage Hotel
The Australian Hotel was originally located on George Street, next to where the Museum of Contemporary Art now stands. It was opened on 12th August 1824, When the plague hit Sydney in 1900, many buildings were pulled down to prevent further outbreaks, including the Australian Hotel. The license was then transferred to a new building in Cumberland Street. the Australian Heritage Hotel remains, one of the most intact pubs in Sydney and locals' favourite watering holes.
The building is a unique, attractive and well preserved example of Edwardian style architecture with quality and taste present throughout the hotel, from the tiling through to the tap faucets. The Australian Heritage Hotel still has many of its pre-existing features, such as the metal awnings, etched signage and saloon style bar doors.The Hotel is listed on the State Heritage register and the Conservation and Heritage Register for Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority. 116 Cumberland Street, The Rocks, Sydney.
The Harbour View Hotel
It is the closest hotel to the Harbour Bridge. Indeed, the original Harbour View Hotel, built around 1843 was demolished to make way for this world icon. It was originally situated where the granite pylons now stand. The Foundations of the old building can still be seen, located at the entrance to Dawes Point Park, opposite.
The new Harbour View Hotel is on land set aside around 1915 for religious purposes. The owners at the time, Brewers Tooth and Company would not move from the area and some arrangements took place between church, Brewer and State Government to obtain the site. Architect s drawings dated 1921 exist and construction would have started soon after. Local residents reveal that the main patrons in the early days were bridge construction workers and tunnellers working on the underground railway.
The current owners purchased the Harbour View hotel in 1998 and closed the hotel in July 2000 to start renovations. This took 12 months to complete and the hotel and site is now within a National Trust conservation area listed on the State Heritage Register with a permanent conservation order. The hotel has an elegant public bar, with its own grand piano and Bridge memorabilia, two function rooms, rooftop cocktail bar, formal a la carte restaurant and a gaming room. Sydney Harbour, Harbour Bridge and streetscape views of elegant Victorian terraces are seen from most parts of this stylish hotel.
The Glenmore Hotel
The Glenmore Hotel was built by Brewers Tooth and Co in 1921 and has been an Aussie icon ever since. It is one of the last surviving pre-Harbour Bridge buildings on Cumberland Street, north of the Cahill Expressway. The site is known to have been occupied from the early years of 1800, although it is likely that, like the other ridges of The Rocks, it was occupied by the encampment of settlers in the first weeks of the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788.
The Glenmore was originally constructed on the other side of Cumberland Street in the 1880's but had to be moved to make way for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge which commenced in 1923. Brick by brick, the Glenmore re-built at 96 Cumberland Street where it currently stands today. When the plague hit Cumberland Street and its buildings in the early 1900 s, a lot of it was demolished and re-built. During The Glenmore renovations, the archeologists struck a roadside kerb when demolishing the old staff wash room. The stone work was still intact.
During the 2012 renovations and removing walls, a tiny silver 15 pence made in 1870 was found near our cellar. Now in the hands of the archeologists, the circular silver coin was 19mm in diameter with milled edge also bearing on the obverse a crown with the words, NEW SOUTH WALES and date below.
Immediately to the south of The Glenmore is the Argyle Bridge, built as part of the improvements undertaken by the Sydney Harbour Trust. Gloucester and Cumberland Streets were realigned and the two road bridges over the Argyle Cut replaced by a single bridge at Cumberland Street in 1911-12.
Hit Or Miss Hotel
The Former Hit Or Miss Hotel was built in c.1845, replacing an earlier hotel of the same name on the same site. It remained licensed as the Hit or Miss Hotel until 1923.
Irish born Thomas Stevens purchased the land from George Banks in 1836 and by 1845 a two storey house had been built. Stevens had been sentenced to 14 years transportation to Australia, arriving in Port Jackson on 'The Pilot' in 1817. Stevens did not serve his full term, by 1825 he had been freed and was employed by John Harris, Constable of the Melville district (near Bathurst). He married Catherine Larkins, also a transported convict. The building is described as of two storeys with seven rooms, stone and brick construction with a shingle roof, outhouses in middling repair, indicating that part of the complex at least had not been recently constructed. At that time it was listed as 6 Windmill Street.
Following Thomas Sr's death in 1850, his widow Catherine turned their residence ainto a public house which she named the Hit or Miss Hotel. The hotel was licensed almost continuously by members of the Stevens family until 1912. In 1897, wo Colonial Georgian houses fronting WIndmill Stret, the two storey timber residence at the rear and all the sheds were removed and replaced by the building on the site today. From 1900-02 the Stevens family were living in the Hit or Miss Hotel, however their trade is likely to have been affected by the outbreak of plague in 1900. Fortunately for them, the building was not resumed and demolished in the resumptions that took place in the area following the outbreak of the Bubonic plague.
The hotel was de-licensed in 1923 and in 1925 was re-opened as a migrant hostel, the Empire Service Hostel. After closure of the Empire Service Hostel in 1930 the Sydney Harbour Trust remodelled the former hotel/hostel, dividing it into flats. It was acquired by the Housing Board prior to 1940 and was first tenanted by the NSW Department of Housing in 1983.
Former Hit or Miss Hotel, 69 Windmill Street, Millers Point.
A unique example of a nineteenth century Queen Anne Style hotel in the inner city, which features a picturesque Scottish baronial tower. The three storey hotel was built with roof shingles, rendered masonry external walls with decorative string courses and other mouldings. The site was once part of the original Sydney Hospital. The Patent Slip Inn was erected on it in 1853. This hotel was demolished in 1887 and new hotel was erected by Thomas Brennan who called it the Port Jackson Hotel.