Publicans and guests ‘got by’ in one-day hotel strike

HOTEL bars in the Illawarra district were closed on Thursday owing to the one day stop work meeting of members of the Hotels and Restaurant Employees’ Union.

For publicans’ wives and families it was one of the busiest days on record, as they carried on, serving meals and making beds.            

It was a warm and sultry day, Thursday – just the day for a  beer. Furthermore, there was plenty of beer in all hotels to sell. The publicans wanted to sell it – the public wanted to buy it. But there was no one to serve it. The result – Wollongong drinkers went dry.

The strike was not limited to this district. Hotels through out the State were affected. All staff were back on the job on Friday and the beer was flowing as usual. Publicans gave the following reports, when visited by a reporter from the Mercury:

The Wollonong Hotel in 1940. This is similar to how the pub would have looked at the time of the strike before the balcony was removed during the mid 1950s.

The Wollonong Hotel in 1940. This is similar to how the pub would have looked at the time of the strike before the balcony was removed during the mid 1950s.

WOLLONGONG, HOTEL (62 guests): All guests were informed of the position and in every case tidied their own room. Meals were served in a nearby cafe, but no liquor was available.    

The Illawarra Hotel in 1950

The Illawarra Hotel in 1950

ILLAWARRA HOTEL (53 guests) : Service as usual maintained, including a hot meal at night. Travellers who requested meals were told of the position and had the option of meals. Said Mrs. Condon: “The guests were very helpful. They all folded their linen and helped with their rooms. At meals they lined-up in true Army style and carried their food to their respective tables. As we had a large family to help, we were able to manage. Although our front bar doors were closed,the private saloon-bar was open as usual. The crowd was naturally in excess of a regular Thursday crowd, but we managed all right. The union did not request us to close for the day, otherwise I would have abided by the request. All my staff will be back on the job tomorrow.

The Royal Hotel, Crown STreet Wollongong in the 1940s

The Royal Hotel, Crown Street Wollongong in the 1940s

ROYAL HOTEL: Mrs. Benbow, wife of the licensee of the Royal Hotel, was busy in the kitchen. “I served breakfast as usual this morning and will do the same for lunch and dinner. All rooms have been cleaned and apart from the bar being closed, the hotel is functioning as usual,” she said. “The strike  has not interfered with our service to our guests.”

The Commercial Hotel, Crown Street Wollongong in the 1940s

The Commercial Hotel, Crown Street Wollongong in the 1940s

COMMERCIAL HOTEL: Guests were allowed full run of the house and were permitted to make their own breakfasts. The wife of the licensee, Mrs. Hickey, lone-handed did the work of the normal housemaid. No beer was available.

The Crown Hotel, Wollongong in the late 1930s.

The Crown Hotel, Wollongong in the late 1930s.

CROWN HOTEL: Mr. Davis,of the Crown Hotel was fortunate in having some helpful relatives staying with him. They all assisted and the 43 guests were not affected.

The Flinders Inn, Wollongong

The Flinders Inn, Wollongong

THE FLINDERS’ INN, where the wife and daughter of the  publican did the normal daily chores, was another hotel where the saloon bar was opened and thirsty drinkers could obtain relief.

Friday saw all the ‘regulars’back in their favourite hotels, breasting the bar and in all cases business was reported to be as usual.

– Illawarra Mercury Thursday 8 December 1949



Categories: Illawarra Hotels, NSW hotels, Publicans

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