THE Emu Inn traded at the north-eastern corner of George and Bathurst streets in Sydney, opposite St Andrews Cathedral for almost 60 years.
The inn was demolished in 1886 to make way for what was described as a “handsome block of buildings” known as Riley Brothers department stores.
Duncan Macpherson, who went on to host the Royal Exchange Hotel at King and George streets, for many years afterwards, was the last publican of the Emu Inn.
The first Emu Inn was established in “Upper Pitt Street” by James Simmons in about 1823, and he traded there until 1825 when he moved his business to “Brickfield Hill”.
Simmons opened a new Emu Inn and general store at the corner of what is today George and King Streets that same year.
Simmons sold the pub to Joseph Aarons in 1828, who continued operating The Emu Inn, along with the general store, until 1835.
Sarah Tighe came into possession of the pub after Aaron, and in 1839, John Booth followed, and William Aitkenhead had it from 1846 to 1854.
William Kelly became the licensee after Aitkenhead, and James Kelly followed him. He kept possession until 1875, when Edward J. Wehlow, a well-known colonial citizen, took the license. Wehlow held many licences, including some of Sydney’s most historic pubs. At one time he had the ancient Woolpack, at Parramatta.
William Easy succeeded Wehlow, and died there in 1881, his widow keeping the house until Macpherson steered the business to its closure in 1886. The Sydney Morning Herald reported on October 18 1886:
The disappearance of the old landmarks which, have become associated with the history of the city has recently been shown by the demolition of the Emu Inn, which was one of the oldest hostelries in Sydney and made history by its close connection with the scenes of several noted political events. In its place has risen an immense building, with all the most modern ideas connected with it. The lease of the old Emu Inn site was some 15 months ago purchased by a syndicate, under the title of the Sydney Building Company, Limited, with a term of 30 years to run. The old building was speedily demolished…
Today, power company, Ausgrid occupies a glass and metal high-rise tower on the site where once traded MacPherson’s humble colonial inn.
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Categories: NSW hotels, Sydney hotels
Regarding your “The Emu Inn’s taps began flowing with ale in about 1825, with the first recorded publican being Joseph Aarons, who kept the pub until 1835” – do you have references for these?
Hi Mick and Peter, There was an Emu Inn in Upper Pitt St as early as 1823 which was run by James Simmons until 1 March 1825 (Sydney Gazette 9 Jan 1823, 3 Feb 1825). By 1826 Simmons had started another Emu Inn nearby in George street, which was taken over by Joseph Aarons in 1828 (Sydney Gazette 26 Nov 1828).
Thanks Robin. I’ve included the information on the first Emu Inn.