Pubs, liquor & the law is a selection of historical photographs sourced from the Georges River Council Local Studies collection. These images have captured the changing face and role of local pubs in the St George region throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
Martin Shanny was reported to be leaving his position as a hotel keeper at Granville to ‘personally conduct’ the Hurstville Hotel in August 1931. The new publican involved himself in the support of numerous local sporting teams and events. Whilst under the stewardship of Mr Shanny, the popularity of the hotel increased among supporters of St George district sporting teams, situated as it was between Hurstville Railway Station and Hurstville Oval.
A ‘first-class family hotel’ was reportedly under construction at Hurstville in July 1883. The hotel was expected to benefit from the opening of the Illawarra Railway to Hurstville and was to provide views of the nearby Georges River, surrounding forest country and the ‘distant outlines of the Blue Mountains’. The new hotel was said to be the enterprise of Mr MacMahon, who along with his wife Dora, became major landholders in the Hurstville district in 1883. The MacMahon’s son, Timothy, became the licensee of the hotel in February 1884.
The Gardener’s Arms
The Gardener’s Arms Hotel was built in c. 1865 for Charles Brown “in the midst of a thriving population”, as described by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Thomas Beavers took over as the licensee in 1880 and the hotel became an important gathering place. The first election and inaugural meeting of Kogarah Council took place here in 1886. After Thomas Beavers’ death in 1898 his widow, Anne Beavers, took over the license. From about 1900 a succession of other licensees ran this hotel. In March 1911, a special court hearing was held as a result of a Local Option vote of 1910. The hearing recommended that the license of two hotels, including the Gardener’s Arms, be revoked taking effect in 1914.
The Gardener’s Arms operated as a shop after its closure as a hotel. The 50th anniversary meeting of Kogarah Council was held here in March 1936, but its days were numbered. The building was demolished and replaced with a club house for the St George Leagues Club in 1952.
The Prince of Wales Hotel
The Prince of Wales Hotel was opened in 1872 by William Rust, who had been licensee for the Sans Souci Hotel from 1866. Rust had hosted a visit to Sans Souci by Prince Alfred, the Duke of Edinburgh, on the fifth of October 1870. Rust named the area near his new hotel Sandringham, after the Prince of Wales’ private residence. Originally a modest weatherboard building, this hotel prospered and a grand two-storey stone Prince of Wales Hotel was built some years later. By the 1880’s the site included a zoological garden, a dam and surrounding gardens, two dance halls and a sweet shop for children.
When the first section of the Illawarra Railway was opened in 1884 the official luncheon was held at the Prince of Wales Hotel, with over two hundred attendees. The opening of a tramway from Kogarah to Sans Souci in 1887, with a stop opposite the hotel, further boosted trade.
By the 1920s the hotel had become the scene of some rowdy altercations, the worst in 1931 when publican Leslie Ritchie was stabbed by an irate customer, Alfred O’Rourke who was consequently charged with attempted murder. The hotel gained a reputation for its brawling, with four men arrested after a fight in August 1945.
Peter Moore opened the Moorefield Racecourse in 1888. Two years later the Moorefield Hotel was built adjacent to the racecourse, opening in early 1891, with a ready-made clientele of racegoers. The hotel quickly became a centre for local sport, with many local clubs including The St George Harriers, Sydney Hunt Club, St George Sailing Club, St George Rugby League Club, Kogarah District Football Club, St George Football Club (soccer), Illawarra Fox Terrier Club and Nautilus Swimming Club all met at this hotel.
After the success of the 1910 Local Option vote, temperance campaigners redoubled their efforts. The local campaign against hotels was led by Reverend William Touchell a fiery Congregationalist minister. In 1913 he invited Mrs Harrison Lee Cowie, a prominent temperance speaker from New Zealand, to speak at a meeting in Brett’s Hall, Kogarah. As a result of the successful vote three further hotel licenses were withdrawn with three years notice in 1914, including the Moorefield Hotel.
In 1926 a move to re-license the hotel had Reverend Touchell writing that “those interested in the new venture to foist another liquor license upon the people of Kogarah, [would] be strenuously opposed.” The hotel was not re-licensed. Later in 1926 it was damaged by fire and was demolished in 1931.
Search fore more photographs of hotels on the Georges River Libraries online catalogue.
This blog post depicts content from the Snapshot Gallery exhibition, Pub’s, liquor & the law which was on display at Hurstville Museum & Gallery from 6 May – 20 August 2017.