A life-long drinking partnership: More than three decades at the Old Commodore

Stan Warren and Roly Collins at the Commodore Hotel Sydney January 1947

Roly Collins and Stan Warren who have been meeting every evening in the same hotel for 35 years. Arrows mark name-plates at the “bend of the bar” which is
reserved for their exclusive use.

Men who drank 7,000 gallons

COPPER name-plates at their favorite position on the bar of the Old Commodore Hotel, McMahon’s Point have been tacked down for Roly [Rowley] Collins and Stan Warren.

Their claim to fame is that they have been steady patrons of the hotel for the past 35 years, in which period they estimate they have swallowed 3500 gallons of beer each.

They reckon that they drink about 20 schooners — roughly two gallons — a week each.

“We’ve been meeting here after work, rain or shine, for longer than I like to remember,” said Stan, still an eligible bachelor.

Roly, father of three children, works at a Berry’s Bay boatshed. His son Ray, an ex-serviceman, has taken up his position at the bar next to his father every afternoon.

“Beer is good; it’s the best drink of the lot and doesn’t do anybody harm if they take it regularly,” said Stan, who says the best days were when beer was 3d a pint.

“A man could afford to quench his thirst then, but It’s too dear now,” he said.

Both men say that they have a weekly drinking budget, but admit that it tends to be elastic. “It just depends how thirsty we are,” said Roly.

– Sydney Sun, Sunday 19 January 1947

Old Commodore Hotel North Sydney January 1939

How Roly Collins and Stan Warren knew the Old Commodore Hotel, McMahon’s Point, North Sydney, 1939. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

They drank 9,000 gallons of beer in 36 years

Stan Warren and Rowley Collins at the Old Commodore Hotel North Sydney February 1948

Stan Warren and Rowley Collins pause for breath

Rowley Collins, 59, and Stan Warren, 63, both of North Sydney, have each drunk 9000 gallons of beer in the Old Commodore, North Sydney, since 1912.

They hope to bring the total to 15,000 gallons each in the next 24 years Rowley and Stan have occupied the same corner of the bar for 35 years. Their right to the position is indicated on the bar by two brass plates bearing their names in copperplate writing. Licensee James Jeffries put the plates on the bar. The positions opposite them are sacrosanct. No one in North Sydney would stand there between 4.45pm and 6pm.

Any stranger who takes one of the places is politely moved elsewhere.

Boat builders Rowley and Stan are small lean, tough, sun-tanned, weather-beaten. “Stan and I did a bit of casual drinking all over the place when we were young men,” said Rowley yesterday. “We had our first drink — at 3 pence a pint — in the Old Commodore on January 1, 1912 when I was 24 and Stan 28.

“We liked the pub and the beer and as it was handy to our work and homes, we became regulars.

“One day we got into an argument about how much beer a man drank in a lifetime. “The outcome was that we said if we kept on as steadily in the future as we had in the past, we’d each drink about 15,000 gallons.

20,000 Gallon Target

“The crowd laughed. We’re now proving them wrong. When we get through the next 6000 gallons to make our total 15,000 gallons each. I’ll be only 83 and Stan 87.

“If we feel then as we do now we’ll make our target 20,000 gallons.”

Dark, taciturn Stan Warren said: “I wish they served 3d pints now I’d treble my daily consumption.”

Beer consumption of Rowley and Stan works out at 5½ pints a day every day for 35 years.

To drink 15,000 gallons each at this rate will take altogether 59 years. From January 1 this year they will have to maintain their daily quota for another 23.91 years.

It is impossible to estimate the cost incurred in the first 35 years because of many changes in the price of beer. They think they have each spent about £3000.

To accomplish the 15,000-gallon objective, each will spend another £2800.

In terms of pints, each has drunk 72,000, and will drink another 48,000.

Drinking leisurely, Rowley lifts and replaces a pint five times, and takes four swallows to each lift. He has lifted his glass 360,000 times for 1.440.000 swallows, and will lift it another 240,000 times for 960,000 swallows to make a grand total of

600,000 lifts for 2,400,000 swallows

Stan, who lifts and replaces a pint six times with five swallows to each lift, has achieved 432,000 lifts for 2,160,000 swallows.

To reach 15,000 gallons he has still to lift his glass 288,000 times for 1,440,000 swallows. This will bring his grand total to 720,000 lifts for 3.600.000 swallows.

Both Rowley and Stan lift their glasses a distance of about 2ft from the bar to their mouths. The glasses travel another 2ft. in returning to the bar. This means that Rowley has lifted and set down his glass over a distance of 272.6 miles, and Stan 327.2 miles.

To drink 15,000 gallons Rowley will have to lift and set down his glass over a further distance of 181.8 miles. Stan 219.2 miles.

The grand total in terms of distance will then be Rowley, 454.4 miles; Stan, 546.4 miles.

– Sydney Daily Telegraph Sunday 15 February 1948

Stan and Rowley fell short of their 20,000 gallon target. Stan was the first to break the long drinking partnership with his death in 1965. He was 80. It’s not known whether Rowley continued drinking at the same place every afternoon without his life-long mate. If he did, he surely made a sad sight as one half of a lifelong partnership at the bar. Rowley died in 1967 at the age of 78.


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Categories: Sydney hotels

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2 replies

  1. Hi Mick,

    Do you know anything more about these two? The story is filed in Sydney, but the article was published in Melbourne. Do you know what pub it was? Thanks very much – great site.

    – Tim

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