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Metropolitan Hotel, Sydney

metropolitan hotel bridge st 1910

The original Metropolitan Hotel C1910. Photo: City of Sydney Archives.

The original Metropolitan Hotel, at the corner of George and Bridge streets Sydney, was demolished in 1910 and replaced with the current heritage listed structure.

The site of the Metropolitan has been occupied by a hotel since the 1830s. In the 1850s the pub was known as the Castle Hotel, and by 1860 the building was occupied by Mr. P. Wilson, under the name La Ville de Bordeaux Hotel, before becoming the Metropolitan Hotel in 1878.

Owners, brewery giant, Tooth and Company called for tenders to rebuild the Metropolitan Hotel in June 1910, with plans prepared by architects Messrs Halligan and Wilton.

Facebook comments:

Batemans Metropolitan Hotel Sydney mug garrick fayBlane Hogue: “When I worked in the old Bulletin building in the late 1950s and early 60s, the Metropolitan, known as “Claude Faye’s”, was our watering hole.

“I don’t live in Australia any more and on a visit a few years ago saw that there was a MacDonald’s where we use to drink, and the Bulletin building had become a set of trendy bars.

“Glad to see Macca’s is gone and people will be able to drink with the ghosts of all those who were standing in the public bar with me back in the days of Claude Faye’s.”

Garrick Fay: “My dad (Claude Fay) ran the Metropolitan from 1956 to 1969. Before him the pub was known as Bateman’s.

“Regulars had their own silver plated mugs . I still have one.

“When dad first took over, there were probably 40 on the shelves behind the bar. This is a half pint (pictured); there were also pint mugsDad was first to do that in Sydney, I’m told.

Batemans Metropolitan Hotel Sydney mug 2 garrick fay“(He was also the) first to admit women to drink in the (public) bars, instead of the ladies lounge. (He also had the) first smorgasbord in Sydney also.”

In recent years, the Metropolitan Hotel has been regulated to the second storey of the corner building, with the ground or street-level occupied by a McDonalds fast food outlet.

The good news though is that Maccas has moved out, and the street level will be refurbished and upgraded to once again occupy its rightful place.

While the Metropolitan is currently closed for major renovations (April 2019), the new pub when completed will feature a striking ground floor bar area.

A lift will provide easy access to the upper floor restaurant, bar and function areas and rooftop garden.

Now being pulled down

Another George Street landmark removed

METROPOLITAN AT THE CORNER OF GEORGE AND BRIDGE ST SYDNEY 1910

By Mary Salmon

THE site of the old hostelry just being pulled down, at the corner George and Bridge streets, Sydney, was originally the only entrance to the old lumber yard that was so much used during King’s, Bligh’s, Macquarie, and Brisbane’s rule, and extended from George-street to the creek called the Tank Stream.

The hotel stands between what were the two large iron and wooden gates that formed the only way of getting into the yard.

A century ago there were but very few buildings there-a-bouts, the closest being the Government granary or provision store, which stood nearly opposite, in George-street.

The maps of 1838 show the lumber yard in full operation. In the fifties the Government broke up the establishment, when there had been carpenters, blacksmiths, and other workshops, and sold the land in allotments.

The purchasers were Messrs. J. B. Montefiore, John Terry Hughes, Richard Sullivan, J. H. Turner, P. H. Rapsey. William McDonald, and Mrs. Sussannah Nash.

At the time of the sale the corner entrance adjoined land upon which Mr. David Bevan built a cottage, where the first Norfolk Island pine trees in the colony grew.

Bridge Lane and Abercrombie Lane were little thoroughfares running from George-street near the corner where the Metropolitan Hotel has stood so long.

The Bank of Australasia was opposite in George-street, and the old hotel called St. John’s Tavern was directly across the road. In a print of 1848 the building now being demolished is depicted with a similar building next door used as a chemist’s shop kept by, Mr. C. M. Penny. Directly opposite was Mr. S. Lyons’ auction mart, which building still stands with the name and date of erection to be seen. In 1835 St. John’s Tavern was occupied by Mr. William Perry, who afterwards had the Gas Hotel in Kent-street (1848).

Mr. Charles Bath kept the “Tavern” for many years.

Next was the Gothic-shaped roofed building in which the Hebrew denomination first held service in Sydney. This still stands, and will, when the Metropolitan Hotel utterly disappears, be the only old-time building in Bridge-street, between George and Pitt streets.

The site of the Metropolitan has been occupied by a hotel for more than 60 years. In the fifties it was called the Castle Hotel, and was carried on by Mr. Jean J. Ralph.

The chemist’s shop also had changed hands from Mr. Penny, and was taken by Mr. G. R. Elliott, an original member of the great firm of manufacturing chemists of to-day.

Later Mr. Senior had a shop there. In I860 the building was occupied by Mr. P. Wilson, under the name “La Ville de Bordeaux Hotel,” Mr. William Jenkins being next door with a medical dispensary.

In 1862 the hotel was converted into a tobacconist’s shop under Mr. Morritz Cohen. Then another change was made when Mr. T. T. Matthews took it for what he called a ‘Nautical Academy,’ being a sort of ‘ nautical instrument manufactory and shop.

About 1878 he transferred the premises to Mr. William Camb, who was a well-known member of the old Volunteer Fire Brigade.

For three years he carried on the place at the Metropolitan Hotel until, in 1881, Mrs. Harriet Camb became the licensee, probably at the death of her husband.

Mr. C. H. Harris kept the hotel in 1883, and in 1886 Mr. William Walpole was in charge. Mr. John Cooper held the licence next, and Mr. Wilmot Mason succeeded him, keeping the name, Walpole’s Metropolitan Hotel.

In 1890 Mr. John Napier took over the business, and Mrs. Mary Napier carried it on in 1892 and 1893. Mr. John Dennison was landlord from 1894 to 1903, when Mrs. Mary Napier held the licence until its demolition, and she carries on a temporary bar next door.

A word about the old lumber yard may be of interest, as it is just 100 years since Governor Macquarie made it a very busy place — a veritable hive of industry in early Sydney.

Bullock waggons would draw heavy loads of timber into the yard to be cut, up in the pits and converted into materials for building, as planks, doors, and window frames. Articles of furniture were also made, and different kinds of ironwork were manufactured there of the primitive description of bolts and bars. It was a sort of early time penetentiary on a large scale, long before the word was used to imply a place of punishment where compulsory labor is turned to profitable account, as well as tending to reform the worker.

– Sydney Evening News Wednesday 10 August 1910.

Metropolitan Hotel George Street sydney 1949

Metropolitan Hotel, Sydney 1949. Photo: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

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