Bondi cab driver’s brilliant method of lubricating his Sunday social club

The Hotel Bondi, 1945. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University. Cec Haynes at the bar of the Hotel Bondi filling his oil drum with beer. Picture: Sydney Daily Telegraph, April 13, 1947.

WE’RE an inventive lot, us Australians. When obstacles are put in our way – especially when it comes to enjoying a beer with mates – we can become quite imaginative. In fact, in Bondi cab-driver, Cec Hayne’s case, resourcefully clever.

For five years, Cec made his way to his local pub once a week to fill an old four-gallon oil drum with beer.

The four gallons – just over 15 litres in today’s money – wasn’t entirely for Cec’s weekly pleasure. Although in saying that, he did have an incentive for his efforts, and also enjoyed the benefits of his labour.

Ces’s weekly pilgrimage was for members of the Bondi Pitch and Putt Club.

The social golf club, made-up mostly of taxi-drivers, met on Sunday mornings during the 1940s and 50s, before members hit local courses for their weekly game.

Of course, the day would not start without a few frosty beverages.

Club captain, Ces came-up with a brilliant, albeit, expensive way of lubricating members of the club in 1943. You see, it was almost impossible to buy take-away liquor during the war years (and for some years after) as a consequence of Government limits on beer production, and a requirement for breweries to reduce their output by two-thirds. See story: War-time beer rationing and a thirsty Australia.

After making his way through the public bar of the Hotel Bondi, on the corner of Campbell Parade and Curlewis Street, on a weekday morning, he placed a funnel in his trusty drum, and, as he did, ordered six schooners of beer.

Another club member minded his place at the bar, and ordered six more schooners while Cec emptied his six into the drum. It took 46 schooners, or 17½ quarts, to fill the drum. The schooners cost Cec £2 and 6 shillings.

The drums of beer were taken home by Cec and transferred to bottles. Club members, most of whom were taxi-drivers, took the beer with them when they go golfing on Sunday mornings.

Interviewed by the Sydney Daily Telegraph, Cec said in a story published on April 13, 1947, despite not having a liquor license, the club had not gone without a Sunday morning beer since its formation in 1943.

“If the weather’s hot, or we’re having a big weekend, we get three oil drums full of beer, and fill a few demijohns as well,” Cec said.

“That was one of our big weekends.

“It was tough during the beer shortage — we had to work fast to fill the drums before the beer went off.

“With a good run at the bar, I can now fill a drum in 14 minutes — but I have done it in 13.

“The barman doesn’t give us preferential treatment, either. He fills our schooners in spare moments between orders from other customers.

“We use a funnel with an extra-wide mouth, so we don’t have to be careful pouring it into the drum.”

According to the Daily Telegraph, Cec’s bottling technique was perfectly legal. The newspaper reported on April 13, 1947:

A bottle containing three middies of beer. Picture: Daily Telegraph April 13, 1947. The Hotel Bondi, 1945. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University

Buying beer in schooners and middies in hotels and then bottling it yourself is an expensive way of buying it, although not illegal, provided you pour the beer into the bottle yourself. Above is a bottle containing three U.L.V.A. [285 ml or 10 fl oz] middies of draught beer — cost a shilling and 9 pence. It is only partly filled. Brewery bottled beer, filled to the dotted line, costs a shilling and 7½ pence a bottle.


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