Belfield Hotel’s singing barmaid

Belfield Hotel, corner of Burwood and Punchbowl Roads, Belfield, 2017. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection

Belfield Hotel North Belmore NSW 1937 ANU

Belfield Hotel, corner of Burwood and Punchbowl Roads, Belfield, 1937. Photo: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

 

belfield pub cartoon 2

Iris giving a tune at the Belfield Hotel.

Frederick William Rose received a new license to open the Belfield Hotel at the corner of Burwood and Punchbowl Roads in Sydney’s inner-west on March 14 1932.

When Clive Fairweather was publican in 1950 the pub was losing glasses at the rate of 36 dozen a week. To stem the ebbing tide, he imposed a plan of a shilling deposit on each glass on Saturdays.

The Saturday before the deposit was demanded he lost four dozen glasses. The first Saturday on which the deposits were demanded he finished up with 11 more glasses than he started with!

It’s not known how long the Saturday glass deposit demand lasted, but there were reportedly plenty of complaints from customers that they were up for the shilling even if some clumsy drinker bumped them and broke their glass.

The Belfield Hotel was also known for its singing barmaid, Iris Jones during the early 1950s. Arthur Polkinghorn’s Sydney Diary, published in the Sydney Sun, reported in 1951 that “one of the pleasures at the Belfield Hotel was the voice of attractive brunette Iris Jones”.

Belfield Hotel North Belmore NSW 1949 ANU

Belfield Hotel, corner of Burwood and Punchbowl Roads, Belfield, 1949. Photo: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

“In off-peak hours she’d sing behind the bar to an audience of middy-toting locals. Not long ago The Great Levante and theatrical agent Ted James dropped in for a drink, heard Iris’ voice, closed in on her and gave her a try-out in a Christmas panto at Newcastle. She made the grade, leaves the pub this week with a 40 weeks contract to tour Australia in one of Levante’s shows.”

Drinkers toast barmaid Iris Jones at the Belfield Hotel, North Belmore. They were congratulating her on her new job — as a singer who will tour in The Great Levant’s troupe. Picture: Sydney Sunday Telegraph, February 25, 1951.

The Sydney Daily Telegraph reported on February 25 1951:

MAGICIAN CHANGES BARMAID TO SINGER

A magician turned a Sydney barmaid into a professional singer as easily as he can pull rabbits from a hat.

And he used sound business sense, not magic, to, do it. After hearing Miss Iris Jones sing at the Belfield Hotel, North Belmore, the magician engaged her to sing with his touring company.

The magician, “The Great Levant,” visited the hotel where Miss Jones worked, as she was singing in the dining-room.

GOING ON TOUR

Whenever she sang in the dining-room she attracted an audience of hotel customers. Theatrical agent Ted James said yesterday that Iris Jones would tour with Levant and his company for the rest of the year. He said that Iris, who was born in Sydney, had been trained at a convent and by a private teacher. She had spent two years in the New Hebrides singing in amateur shows for charity.

Mr. James said: “This girl will turn out to be an other Magda Neild”.

Her ultimate aim is to become a musical comedy star.

Today the Belfield Hotel describes itself as “a local’s pub with a relaxed atmosphere and friendly staff”.

Belfield Hotel North Belmore NSW 1960 ANU

Belfield Hotel, corner of Burwood and Punchbowl Roads, Belfield, 1960. Photo: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

For more history of the Belfield Hotel, the singing barmaid, and a Time Gents’ review visit: Belfield Hotel: A review


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Categories: Barmaids, beer glasses, NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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2 replies

  1. A couple of points I recall of the Belfield Hotel.
    * The pub depicted in the photos above has not been used as a pub for many years. Patrons are now coralled to the “Lounge” at the back of the pub. Car parking is available at the adjacent former petrol station. The former petrol station was named “Yanna” petroleum. Originally it was a “Golden Fleece” station.
    * On the Punchbowl Rd side of the pub, towards the very end of the pub building depicted in the photos, one could purchase wine, brandy and beer in a shop. The shop had a large shuttered window and rounded studs on the window ledge. The shop has been shuttered for a number of years.
    * When the pub depicted in the pictures was operating as the pub, I recall as a school student waiting for the 415 bus between the hours 0700-0800 seeing the delivery of kegs of beer into the ‘cellar’ below the main pub. The ‘cellar’ was quite a spacious and cavernous room. Access to the cellars was by a door below one of the windows. A ramp made of wooden palings would lead from the Burwood Rd entrance into the ‘cellar’.
    * When arriving home from school with the 415 bus, you could hear the sounds of chattering people, some in blue singlets and you could smell the unusual combination of beer vapour and cigarette smoke.
    * For over 30 years the corner of the interior of the pub depicted in the pictures had a large analogue (4:3 aspect ratio) projection TV.

    Thank you,
    Anthony of Belfield

  2. There is further information about the Belfield Hotel at https://timegents.com/2019/01/27/belfield-hotel-belfield-2/
    Thank you,
    Anthony from exciting Belfield

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