Shearer shot dead in Uralla pub

The former Royal Hotel, Uralla, built in 1909, is now a private residence. The original 1860s section of the hotel adjoined the right of the building, and was demolished sometime after 1924. Picture: Google.
The Royal Hotel, Uralla, 1924. This photo shows the Tooth & Co brewery traveller or representative parked outside the pub. It also shows the original 1860s inn, which adjoined the 1909 addition to the left. The 1909 addition survives to this day. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

A SHEARER named Emanuel Consett Polsen came to an untimely death in the bar of Uralla’s Royal Hotel in 1912 after an argument erupted with Alexander Handcock. The Border Morning Mail reported on Monday February 12, 1912:

Emanuel Consett Polsen was shot dead by a man in the bar of the Royal Hotel, Uralla, on Friday. In the midst of the excitement the man who fired the shot escaped. He is said to be an experienced bushman, and the police anticipate some trouble in getting him. The tragedy was the outcome of a dispute over the ‘eternal feminine’.

Located 23km south-west of Armidale, on the NSW Northern Tablelands, the pub was established in the early 1860s as the Court House Hotel. The pub’s name was changed to the Royal Hotel in 1891.

A few years after additions were added to the old coaching inn during 1909, the pub made headlines when shearer, Polsen was shot dead by bushman, Handcock.

At the Armidale Court in April 1912 Alexander Handcock was charged with murdering Emanuel Poison at the Royal Hotel, Uralla after a quarrel on February 9.

The jury returned a verdict of manslaughter and the judge sentenced Handcock to “the rising of the court”. This is the shortest possible sentence allowable under NSW law, and means that Handcock was set free immediately after the court case finished. It appears from the evidence that Handcock shot Polsen in the neck in the parlour of the pub “under extreme provocation”.

The old pub was described by the Tooth & Company brewery representative in 1924 as “the worst building of Uralla’s hotels”. At the time the Tooth’s traveller reported the pub had 17 bedrooms, 13 public, a bar, three parlours, spirit room, dining room, kitchen and good stabling.

There was another shooting incident outside the pub in 1926 when George McKenzie ended up in hospital suffering from shock and bullet wounds to the ankle, cheek, and forehead. McKenzie, from Newcastle, was staying at the pub when he survived the pistol whipping.

There was an arrest made over the incident, but the alleged assailant was found not guilty of attempted murder for lack of evidence.

The Royal’s last publican was Joseph George Cooper, who surrendered the license to the NSW Licensing Board on June 30 1929. The owner of the building at the time was a widow, Mrs Karl.

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Categories: NSW hotels

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