Women have their say on later pub closing: Hollywood Hotel, Surry Hills

Hollywood Hotel Surry Hills Sydney 1949 anu
Hollywood Hotel, Foster Street Surry Hills 1950. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

THE Daily Telegraph visited a number of Sydney pubs, including Surry Hills’ iconic Hollywood Hotel, in 1954, reporting on how women were finally infiltrating the harbour city’s bars.

Besides the Hollywood, the newspaper called into the Newcastle Hotel in George Street, and the Belfield’s Hotel in King Street, where the reporter chatted with women drinkers to gain their views on a number of pub related issues, including extending drinking hours from 6pm to 10pm.

Of the three pubs, sadly only the Hollywood Hotel survives to this day.

On the eve of the demise of the much despised ‘six o’clock swill’, and the introduction of more civilised drinking hours, the Daily Telegraph reported on Sunday August 29 1954:  

Women favour later hours if they can drink in bars

hollywood hotel sydney 1954
Drinking in the bar of the Hollywood Hotel, Foster Street.

Want to share hotel facilities with menfolk

Many Sydney women said this week they would vote for later hotel closing hours if they could share hotel facilities fully with their menfolk. A majority of those who at present are opposed to later closing hours said their opposition arose from fear that their menfolk would tarry over-long at the bars from which women are at present almost totally excluded.

They took the view that if they could join their menfolk at bars, they would welcome 10pm closing. They pointed out that in England and almost every other part of the world women were able to drink in bars with their husbands. It was strongly argued that the Government should take from licensees their discretionary power to exclude women from bars. Women interviewed said that, apart from the angle of segregation, there was the fact that at present women, almost without exception, were compelled to drink in lounges or beer gardens at prices up to 25 per cent higher than bar prices.

10pm closing favoured

Women also made a strong case for making hotels (including their bars) more attractive. Some women interviewed were standing with their husbands at the bars of the comparatively few hotels where licensees allow “mixed drinking”.

A senior official of the New South Wales Housewives’ Association (organising secretary Mrs. D. Lawson) said she favoured 10pm closing and mixed drinking. She said: “Women should have unrestricted use of all parts of the hotel including the bars.

“With later closing and no ban on women drinking with their husbands, the entire aspect of hotel drinking would change.

“From what I have seen in England and in Europe, it would be better both for the man and woman.

“We have got out of the stage when hotel bar drinking is all right for men, but taboo for women.”

Mrs. Lawson added that publicans should provide facilities for children who would go to hotels with their parents.

Drink with husbands

At the Newcastle Hotel, George Street [Sydney], which pioneered mixed bar drinking, Mrs G. McLeod, of Stafford Street, Double Bay said: “Women should have a drink at the bar with their husbands.

“If they could do that many of them would change any opposition they might have to later hotel trading.”

Another customer at the Newcastle, Miss Mary Bate, 24, of McPherson Street, Waverley, was with her fiance Lance Joinson, 25. Miss Bate said: “We’re both going to vote for later closing because we know the enjoyment we’ll get out of having a drink together at night.

“A lot of women I know feel the same way.

“But we do want to make sure that if we get longer hotel hours we won’t be segregated in the dingy parlors or lounges in some suburban hotels.”

Licensee George Moore said: “If hours are extended and women can drink at the bars with their husbands or menfolk, it will change the whole atmosphere of hotels.

“I know that from the way my hotel has become such a pleasant place since I allowed women to drink at the bars.”

In a bar at Belfield’s Hotel, King Street [Sydney], where women are allowed to drink, two women said they would “definitely vote for “10pm closing”. One of the women, both of whom said they ran their own businesses — said: “If we get longer trading hours, the State Government should legislate to allow women to drink in any part of hotels.”

At the Hollywood Hotel in Foster Street [Surry Hills], many office and shop girls were drinking with male companions in a modern well-fitted cocktail-type bar.

One girl, Miss Joanne Reynolds, 19 of Bridge Road, Glebe, said: “My boy friend and I are looking forward to later closing if we can relax together in a hotel after work.

“He has often said that an evening in a nice suburban hotel with an orchestra or something, would be much cheaper and better than a night-club.”

Daily Telegraph, Sunday 29 August 1954.


If you would like to support my work, you can leave a small tip here of $2, or several small tips, just increase the amount as you like. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs.


Or tip by credit card

Instead, you can make a credit card donation towards the publication of The Time Gents website. If you would like to support my work, you can leave a $2.50 donation here, or you can increase the amount after clicking or tapping into the icon below. Your generous patronage of my work and research, however small it appears to you, will greatly help me with my continuing costs and research.

Categories: Sydney hotels

Tags: , , ,

What's Your Thoughts?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: