How Surry Hills’ former Belmore Park Hotel got its name

Former Belmore Park Hotel, corner of Mary and Reservoir Streets, Surry Hills. Picture: Mick Roberts Collection
Belmore Park Hotel Surry Hills NSW 1949 ANU
Belmore Park Hotel, Surry Hills, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

NOW a bustling little café, the former Belmore Park Hotel at the corner of Mary and Reservoir Streets, Surry Hills was established in 1870 by 33-year-old Henry Qualmer and his wife Teresa.

The Qualmers hosted the pub through the 1870s, later moving to the Balmain area where they later hosted the Royal Hotel at Leichhardt for most of the 1880s.

Qualmers died at the age of 67 in 1898 just a year after building a new pub at Merrylands, in Sydney’s west.

Before the City Circle Rail Line was built, Reservoir Street, which was then known as Gipps Street, ran directly into the Belmore Park.

Qualmer named his new pub after Belmore Park, which was an easy stroll from his front door.

During the new century, the pub, like many around the narrow streets of Surry Hills, was frequented by a variety of shady characters.

One such character was Charles Gerth, who after provoking Charles McCauley was shot twice in the body in 1916. McCauley was acquitted after the jury said he was provoked by Gerth, who had hit him in the head with a box. Gerth, by the way, survived his bullet wounds.

The pub was put-up for sale late in 1898, and was described as being on a corner block of land, having a 80 feet frontage to Reservoir and Mary streets, extending to a lane. The pub advertised as being of brick on stone foundations and containing bar, 12 rooms, kitchen, and cellar, with a wooden stable at the rear. Four terraces to the east in Reservoir Street were also placed on sale.

Brewery giant, Tooths purchased the Belmore Park Hotel in February 1899.

The brewery demolished the original 1870 pub in August 1906 and replaced it with the current three storey building, with attic and cellar. The new pub was completed in January 1907.

The pub’s association with Belmore Park was severed in the mid 1920s with the construction of the City Circle railway. Built in stages, the first stage opened in 1926 as part of the initial electrification of Sydney railways. It consisted of the construction of a rail line above street level from Central Station along Elizabeth Street towards Museum and St James Stations, and eventually onto Circular Quay.

The construction of the raised railway line along Elizabeth Street resulted in a large sandstone wall, which effectively cut direct access from Reservoir Street and the pub to Belmore Park.

The old post supported verandah was replaced with a metal awning in 1953.

Tooths continued ownership of the Belmore Park Hotel for 84 years, selling the pub in 1983. It closed for business in 1985 and now trades as a café.

Belmore Park Hotel Surry Hills NSW C1960 ANU
Belmore Park Hotel, Surry Hills, 1950s. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
Belmore Park Hotel Surry Hills 1970 ANU
Belmore Park Hotel, Surry Hills, 1970. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

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Categories: NSW hotels, Publicans, Sydney hotels

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