By MICK ROBERTS ©
MARGARET Creasey must have been weary of banks.
Twice, banks purchased her pubs at Parramatta, and moved her from successful operating businesses over her 26 year career as a hotelier.
Margaret, along with her husband John, established the Tattersalls Hotel at the busy intersection of George and Church Streets at Parramatta in 1874.
Now a convenience store, the shop traded as the Tattersall’s Hotel for 84 years before its license was transferred to the long closed Lennox Hotel at the corner of Smith and George Streets, Parramatta in 1958.
The Creaseys were married at Sandal Park, a farm of 100 acres at Fairfield, in 1869. After their marriage the couple went straight into the hotel business. They were the last hosts of Parramatta’s famous Red Cow Inn.
The Red Cow stood in Church Street near where the Westpac Bank operates today. The land surrounding the hotel ran through to Phillip Street and George Street, and was laid out with beautiful gardens and pools for swimming birds, such as swans. The inn was a long, low building with a wide verandah in front, facing Church Street. The present shops in Church Street were built on the street line after the demolition of the old inn.
Many social functions were held at the inn, particularly in a building near the main house, used as a ballroom. A notable affair held at the Red Cow was a dinner to celebrate the British victories over the French.
The societies of the town held their meetings in the long room and on occasions the magistrates held their court sessions within its walls.
The Red Cow, like the nearby old Woolpack Hotel, was well known from one end of the colony to the other, and numbered amongst its patrons the leaders of the community as well as visitors from overseas.
The Red Cow had a license from about 1803 until 1873. Charles Walker, the original owner, died in 1826 and his wife conducted the house for many years afterwards.
The Creaseys took over the Red Cow in 1870. Prior to that, they operated a brandy distillery at Bull Hill, Prospect.
The Creaseys had a short stay at the famous inn, and were forced to find another pub to run when the Commercial Bank purchased the whole property in 1871.
While the bank built trading premises at the corner of Church and Georges Streets, the old Red Cow survived as a private residence before its demolition in 1879.
The Creaseys though didn’t have to move far, and took over the Australian Arms Hotel on the opposite corner in 1872. Here, strange to say, the same fate befell the couple, when the Bank of NSW bought the Australian Arms less than two years later in 1874.
The Creaseys had three months remaining on their lease, and it was agreed that the bank could use portion of the building for business, while the publicans sought new premises to transfer their license.
While both hotel and banking businesses were carried on simultaneously, a few humorous stories reportedly arose. Men in search of a drink frequently walked into the banking chamber, and called for a long beer, while a number would obtain change from the teller; and head straight into the bar. Comparable to having an ATM in a pub today, I suppose.
The Creaseys transferred the license across the road in 1874 to an old grocery store, made a few alterations; and called it Tattersall’s Hotel.
At one time an old chemist, the building had a fascinating link to the deaths of the NSW Governor’s wife, Lady Mary Fitzroy and his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Charles Masters.
Governor Charles Fitzroy, who held office from 1846 to 1855, one day while driving through Parramatta Park, took over the reins from his coachman.
The horses bolted and dashed the carriage against a tree. The Governor’s wife, Lady Mary Fitzroy, and Lieutenant Masters died from injuries received in the smash.
After the carriage turned over, two of the horses broke free and bolted along George Street. Two men stepping into the roadway in an attempt to halt the bolting horses caused them to swerve from their course and crash headlong into the corner doorway of what was then a chemist shop, and later the Creasey’s Tattersall’s Hotel.
For years afterwards the imprints of the horses’ teeth were said to be seen in the wooden door of the Tattersall’s Hotel. They must have the source for many yarns at the pub over the years. When the hotel was demolished the doors reportedly “disappeared mysteriously” from the hotel cellar.
After trading successfully for a few years, John Creasey died at the relatively young age of 49 in 1882, and his widow Margaret sold the business the following year for a record £2,250 – a small fortune for those days.
The sale price indicates the popularity of the corner pub.
A number of publicans steadied the reins of Tattersalls Hotel over the following years, including George Roberts. The Cumberland Mercury reported on November 13 1886 that some person or persons unknown played a trick on Mr Roberts, of Tattersall’s Hotel, which they probably enjoyed more than he did.
“It appears that in anticipation of the cricket match on Friday, he sent a case of whisky and a keg of rum to the ground on Thursday, leaving a man in charge. During the deep slumbers of this person, some thieves removed the refreshments which he should have guarded, and though the keg of turn was subsequently discovered the whisky is still missing, and is likely to remain so.”
Busy pubs also mean incidents of violence, and the ‘Tatts’ at Parramatta was no different. Barman, James Graves copped an open handed slap across the face for challenging John Harvey after he refused to pay for his cigar in May 1888.
Harvey was celebrating the Queen’s birthday with a few drinks along with another five blokes when the incident occurred. Harvey had been in strife with the law before, and had a hefty 21 convictions to his name. He was fined 40 shillings, or 21 days in the lock-up.
The balcony of the pub was a favourite spruiking point for speakers on a swathe of subjects, including politics and religion. An unusual address came from John Nagle from the Tatt’s balcony in July 1888.
Nagle had been fired from the Parramatta Asylum for Insane for alleged cruelty to a patient, and he let loose, calling for an inquiry into what he said was his unfair dismissal from the balcony overlooking the Church and George Street intersection.
Meanwhile Margaret Creasey opened a new hotel, by the name of ‘The Family’ at Liverpool in 1884, which she later transferred to her sister to host before her return to Parramatta. There she built another Creasey’s Family Hotel, opposite the railway station in 1902, which later sold for £12,000.
Margaret Creasey, the grand-old pioneering hotelier, died at the age of 83 in 1926. She was survived by three daughters.
The following year, in 1927, the new owner of the Tattersall’s Hotel, B B O’Connor, a director of Toohey’s Brewery, had the Tattersall’s Hotel demolished and replaced with “a new imposing structure”.
The pub remained a Tooheys tied house until it closed in 1958. The license was transferred to the corner of George and Smith Streets, Parramatta to allow the Lennox Hotel to open in October 1958. The Lennox Hotel has also closed for business.
The Tattersall’s Hotel at the corner of Church and George Streets, Parramatta, today trades as a convenient store.
TOLD ‘EM STRAIGHT – . Peter and the Pub – Peter Carraher, a little follow of seventy-five, was ejected from Tattersall’s Hotel, last Friday. Resenting this interference with the liberty of the subject, he proclaimed to all and sundry that he would go into what pub he liked, and no one would stop him. But he put a couple of swear words into his proclamation, and he and Constable Crawford went off to the police station. Peter appeared at the Parramatta Police Court on Monday. “I haven’t the slightest knowledge of using the language. I can’t plead either guilty or not guilty,” he said. So he pleaded guilty under the circumstance.” He was fined £2. The magistrate (Mr. Sutherland): When can you pay that? “I’m financially embarrassed, your Worship,” Peter said. “I’ll have to cut it out.”
– Cumberland Argus Thursday 19 October 1933.
Many will mourn .the death last week in Parramatta District Hospital of Miss Jean Ashcroft at the age of 65. For over a quarter of a century Jean was one of Parramatta’s most popular barmaids. She worked for some years at the Woolpack Hotel and later at Tattersall’s Hotel, where she remained until her retirement.
– The Cumberland Argus Wednesday May 11 1949.
© Copyright Mick Roberts 2018
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