Historic Sydney bar ended up in the Great Western Hotel, Orange

GReat Western Hotel bar Orange
The bar at the Great Western Hotel, Orange. Picture: thegreatwesternhotel.com.au
Great Western Hotel Orange 1925
Great Western Hotel, Orange, 1925. Picture: Australian National University, Noel Butlin Archives.

Sydney bar travels 250 kilometres west to Orange


THERE’S a pub in the central west tablelands of NSW that has links to one of Sydney’s most famous early colonial hotels.

After its closure in 1950, the red cedar bar of Petty’s Hotel, that once fronted York, Clarence and Jamison Street in Sydney, travelled over 250km to the city of Orange.

Petty’s was one of Sydney’s classier hotels, and was said to have had the city’s first beer garden. The hotel was previously the residence of Presbyterian minister, John Dunmore Lang, who supervised the construction of the first Scot’s Church on Church Hill. Lang sold his home to a hotelkeeper in 1823 before it was bought by Thomas Petty in 1836.

Petty transformed the pub into Sydney’s first truly upmarket hotel in 1842 and it traded for over a century before closing on September 1, 1950, when sold to the Red Cross. Following two and a half decades of use by the Red Cross, the elegant colonial structure was sadly demolished in 1976.

Interestingly the cedar bar at Petty’s was dismantled and re-installed at Orange’s Great Western Hotel. A grazier, of Old Buddah Lake, Trangie bought the 34-bedroom Great Western Hotel in February 1950 for £24,000 and had grand plans to remodel the old watering hole.

Great Western Hotel Orange 1
Great Western Hotel, Orange 1950. Picture: Australian National University, Noel Butlin Archives.

The pub was said to have sold in five minutes at public auction. The new owner of the Great Western, Mr. E. D. Forrest, set to work renovating the two-storey building with balcony, and bought the Sydney bar at auction. The Sydney Sun reported in September 1950:

The old cedar bars at Petty’s Hotel over which Australians for 127 years have leaned and imbibed the merry brew, will rise again, phoenix-like, in a few weeks. They have been bought for the Great Western Hotel at Orange.

Petty’s Hotel, Sydney, 1950. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

The Great Western Hotel has traded for over 140 years, and continues a popular pub at Orange. The pub’s opening coincided with the extension of the western railway line from Blayney to Orange in 1877.

To cater for rail travellers, the hotel was built opposite the railway station on the corner of Peisley and Kite Streets. The hotel was built for an Irishman, Patrick Kenna, one of the early pioneers of the district, and for many years one of its most prominent and progressive citizens. He was an alderman of the Orange Municipal Council and was Mayor during the 1870s and in 1884 and 85.

At the time Kenna decided to build the Great Western he was proprietor of Tattersall’s Hotel in Summer Street. For many years “Kenna’s Hotel”, as it was known, was the principal rendezvous for farmers and train passengers.

Many well-known Orange identities later became licensees of the hotel, including W. West, J. Wright, Frank Quinn, Tom Sloane, Walter Pye, Jack Forrest, and Gus Lawler.

Great Western Hotel Orange 1957 anu
Great Western Hotel 1957. Picture: Australian national University, Noel Butlin Archives.
Great Western Hotel Orange 1970 anu
Great Western Hotel, Orange, 1970. Picture: Australian National University, Noel Butlin Archives.
GReat Western Hotel Orange Google Streetview
Great Western Hotel, Orange 2017. Picture: Google Streetview.

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2022


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Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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1 reply

  1. I will be visiting the ‘Great Western Hotel’ in Orange tonight to lean on that red cedar bar. Following the Petty’s, my ancestor, John Williams, was the licensee of the ‘Petty’s Hotel’.

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