THE Aberdare Hotel at Weston, NSW, was built by Englishman, John Champion who came to Australia at the age of 21 in 1876.
Champion was coal miner, who later went into business, hosting the Rose, Shamrock, and Thistle Hotel at Lambton, and later the Northumberland Hotel in Hunter Street Newcastle, during the 1880s.
Champion made his money though when he established the first hotel on the upper Hunter Valley coalfields, the Tattersall’s at Greta in 1889 to 1892.
At the age of 48, Champion started building a grand hotel on what was then the corner of Hall and Aberdare streets at Weston. He owned the land, and had already partly built the pub, spending £750 in material and outside buildings when he was granted a certificate for a conditional license in 1903.
Champion completed the Aberdare Hotel at a cost about £2000, opening for business in March in 1905.
Licence records reveal that the permanent licence for the Aberdare Hotel at Weston was granted to John Champion from March 27, 1905.
The Maitland Mercury newspaper on February 23 1905 carried a detailed article on the Aberdare Hotel, stating that it would be opened at an early date.
“The bricklaying was done by Mr. J. Cook, plastering by Walters Bros, painting Phillips and Son and plumbing W. P. Smith. The contractors, Messrs. Pilgrim Bros., who have done their work faithfully, erected the building in three months, which must be considered a record. The cost was £8,000. The handsome appearance of the building reflects great credit on the architect, Mr. J. Warren Scobie.”
James Warren Scobie was a Maitland-based architect who designed many of the early 1900s pubs on the South Maitland Coalfield – most of which still stand as buildings today.
Champion was a keen follower of sport and generally had a horse or two in training. He owned Lady Vallin who won the Maitland Cup and Ponnybont, who annexed the Newcastle Cup.
After establishing the Aberdare Hotel, Champion owned many other hostelries in the Cessnock and Maitland areas before his death at the age of 76 in 1931.
The Aberdare Hotel closed for business in January 2016, after the owners began major renovations. The renovations have not been completed and the pub remains closed.
* Additional information supplied by Newcastle pub historian, Ed Tonks
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