TO think that the Holmesville Hotel was almost lost as a house of hospitality!
Time Gents visited the West Wallsend district in NSW over the weekend, dropping into a few of the historic pubs, on what was rainy, miserable Queens Birthday long-weekend.
Our first port-of-call was the Holmesville Hotel, which sits at the corner of George and Charlotte Streets in sleepy Holmesville.
The hotel was established in 1903, and despite the coal mining industry’s up and downs over the last century, has survived to cater for the small population. In saying that though, the pub was nearly lost to the town in October 1950 when publican, Alexander Jones applied to the Full Bench of the Licensing Court for the transfer of his licence to a new £50,000 hotel to be built at the corner of Orchardtown-road and Carnley-avenue, New Lambton.
Mr Wells, Chairman of the Full Bench, read a report made by Licensing Sergeant F. H. King, stating the Holmesville hotel had been built 45 years ago and was in good condition. The premises were owned by Toohey’s Ltd.
Because of the out-of-the-way location of the hotel, it was not serving any useful purpose, particularly in supplying accommodation and meals, argued Mr Jones. The proposed hotel would help to meet the acute shortage, of accommodation in Newcastle.
In 1949 only four adults and two children had been accomodated at the Holmesville hotel. In 1950, Mr Jones said, just seven adults had stayed in the hotel.
The miners, and townsfolk were not too happy about the possible closure of their pub, and when the Lake Macquarie Council called a public meeting to devise a battle plan to retain the pub, the shire president had great difficulty keeping order, such was the opposition to the proposal.
The Council went into bat for the people of Holmsville, with Cr Harry Taylor telling the court that “there was little enough in an isolated mining town without taking away the hotel licence”. Local resident Pat Lynch took up a petition against the hotel license removal and told the court that miners regarded the pub as an amenity centre where they had a beer before a meal and returned later to play dominoes, cards and “various other little games they organised.”
In the end, the locals won their battle to retain their pub, and she remains an oasis, a meeting place, within the former mining town with her beautiful late Victorian/Edwardian architecture.
When we visited on a cold winter’s day, the fire was blazing, couples were enjoying a bite to eat in the cosey bistro, children played pool in the games room, and half a dozen men calmly debated football, and watched the horse races in the snug little corner public bar.
Thanks Pat Lynch, you’re a legend!