Last drinks for 150-year-old Concord pub, hosted by three generations of the one family

Pine Inn, Concord, 2020. Picture: Kathleen Wallington


FOLLOWING hot on the heels of the demolition of Parramatta’s historic Royal Oak Hotel, the NSW Government is about to rase another of Sydney’s landmark pubs in the name of public transport infrastructure.

With much controversy and media attention, the Royal Oak Hotel at Parramatta was demolished for the light rail project in 2020.

Sadly, with little media coverage or attention, another of Sydney’s historic pubs, the Pine Inn, established in 1873, closed for business on June 30, 2021, acquired by the NSW Government for the Sydney Metro West rail line.

When undertaking an Environmental Impact Statement for the site, the Government’s consultants incorrectly stated that the hotel was established in 1917 (It seems they simply went off the date displayed on the hotel’s façade), and reported that the Pine Inn “does not appear to have any direct connections with prominent members of the local community or any ongoing historic associations”.

How wrong the consultant’s report is. The site – at what is today 19 Parramatta Road, Concord – has been home to a hotel for almost 150 years, and was hosted by some of the most prominent and respected members of the local community.

The Oriental Hotel was established by Edward McDonald when he was granted a license at the Sydney Central Police Court on Tuesday, August 12, 1873 for a house at Longbottom. Longbottom, later to be known as Concord, was a convict stockade, located on what is now Concord Oval.

McDonald was a ‘Currency Lad’, born in Burwood in 1840, and was a successful businessman in western Sydney, first at Parramatta and later in the town where he grew-up.

At the age of 26 he married Emma Jane Reich, the daughter of one of the colony’s most successful and well-known publicans, Emanuel Neich. It was likely Emanuel Neich persuaded McDonald to become a publican.

Emanuel Neich established the Bath Arms Hotel on Parramatta Road, Burwood in 1840, and held its license for over 60 years. The Bath Arms continues to trade as a pub, up the hill from the former Pine Inn.

The year after his marriage to one of the Reich girls, Edward McDonald was granted the license of the Burwood Family Hotel, located at Burwood Railway Station. He remained as host for five years before selling the Burwood Family Hotel in 1872 and gaining the license of the Woolpack Hotel in Sussex Street, Sydney.

McDonald also opened a family grocer and provision dealer business, known as the Oriental Store on what is today the site of the Pine Inn Hotel on Parramatta Road, Concord. While McDonald hosted the pub, his wife Emma managed the Oriental Store, selling everything from fresh ground coffee, to jams, biscuits, fruits, and confectionary.

McDonald though had bigger plans for his little general store on Parramatta Road. He was successful in applying for a liquor license at the Central Police Court on Tuesday, August 12, 1873, and operated the business as a general store and hotel.

An advertisement for the Oriental Hotel. Image: Sydney Morning Herald, August 30, 1873

The hotel would go on to trade for another 148 years. Its existence as a pub though could have been cut short just six years after opening, when in 1879 McDonald attempted to have the license removed to Glebe. However, the magistrates rejected the application after hearing McDonald’s proposed Glebe pub was within 15 minutes walking distance to nine other licensed premises! 

Edward and Emma McDonald continued as hosts at Concord, bringing up eight children in their pub before retiring from the helm of the Oriental Hotel and Stores in 1882, and continuing other business interests.

Edward McDonald died at his residence, ‘Newton’, Burwood Road, Burwood, on January 9, 1907. He was 67. His widow, Emma died just nine months later, aged 63, on October 30 1907, also at their residence on Burwood Road.

The founders of one of Sydney’s longest operating pubs left at their death eight children and 36 grandchildren to mourn their loss, and were buried in Rookwood Cemetery. 

Over the following years a number of publicans held the reins of ‘The Oriental’, including the well-known and much respected Rubinson family, with three generations going on to host and own the pub for almost another 70 years.

Ludiviko (Loudrick) Rubissir, known locally as Ludric Rubinson, held the license of the Oriental Hotel for 18 years after gaining its license in 1900.

Rubinson (an anglicised version of the Jewish name Rubissir) was born in Austria in 1852 before arriving in Sydney. At the age of 36, he married 35-year-old Margaret Rouhan at Waterloo, Sydney in 1888, and they would have two children together.

Margaret was a devout Irish Catholic who was born in Ballyea, County Clare, and came to Australia in 1878.

Ludric Rubinson was naturalized on December 23, 1896 before buying the Oriental Hotel on Parramatta Road in 1900. The pair would be at the helm of the pub for less then two years when a gang of ‘roughs’ or members of a criminal group known as ‘The Push’ took over their bar.

About 5.30pm on an afternoon in August 1902, Margaret Rubinson called Burwood police station asking for assistance. She was told that no constables were available, and she was instructed to go to Longbottom Park, now known as Concord Oval. There a football match was in progress, and there, she was told, could find constables on duty.

The Irish landlady was unsuccessful in her search for a constable and on returning to her pub found that the men had left. Shortly afterwards, two brothers, known to police, Henry and Cornelius Neil Johnson, were stopped on the street by a plain clothes policeman, first class constable Samuel Gallagher.

During an altercation the two brothers were shot and wounded by the constable, spending sometime in hospital. The brothers were charged with assaulting the constable, but were eventually acquitted. The constable was in turn charged with maliciously wounding the Johnson boys. He was also acquitted of the charge in December 1902.

Constable Samuel Gallagher. Image: Daily Telegraph, August 4, 1902

The Ovens and Murray Advertiser reported the incident on August 9, 1902:

The elder of the two brothers, Henry Johnson, aged 27, was, according to the statement made by Gallagher, obstructing a respectably dressed woman, and the officer straightway attempted to arrest him on a charge of being drunk and disorderly. Gallagher was thereupon assaulted by Johnson and his younger brother Neil, while a crowd congregated, but did not attempt to interfere in anyway. A struggle lasting some 20 minutes, ensued, in the course of which the constable was thrown to the ground, and it is slated, savagely kicked. He drew his revolver, and fired two shots into the ground, with the object of frightening his assailants. This had not the desired effect, and the struggle continued. Gallagher, then, believing his life to be in danger, discharged the remaining cartridges at the two Johnsons. Henry Johnson was hit on the left and right sides of the abdomen. The bullet which entered the left side travelled upwards and came out a few inches higher up. The other bullet travelled in the same direction but did not leave the body, and has not yet been extracted. Neil Johnson was hit in the right thigh and left arm, both bullets emerging on the other side. Edmund Turner, who was standing on the pavement watching the proceedings, was accidentally hit above the right instep. His injuries are not serious, and those of Neil Johnson are not dangerous. The two Johnsons and Turner were taken to the Western Suburbs Cottage Hospital. Henry Johnson was pronounced to be in a critical condition, and his dying depositions were taken. Gallagher, who has been eleven years in the police force, and bears a good record, gave the following account of what took place: — “I held my bicycle in one hand, and, laying the other on Henry Johnson, told him to come with me. Neil Johnson told me to let his brother go. Henry struck me in the face, with his fist and I retaliated. I dropped my bicycle, and defended myself as well as I could from two. We fought across the road, and they got me down. I received several heavy kicks in the stomach. They held me down and kicked me. The struggle lasted about 20 minutes. There must have been about 60 people collected on the footpath, but no one came to my assistance. I warned them that I was going to draw my revolver. I fired two shots into the ground. My hand was kicked, and a third shot went off accidentally. It was that shot, I believe, that hit the boy Turner. The other shots I fired at the legs of my assailants.”

While at the Oriental Hotel, the Rubinsons were responsible for its redevelopment from a small roadside inn into a two-storey brick hotel. Ludric retired as publican in 1912, and his wife, Margaret became licensee from 1912 to 1919.

Significant alterations and additions were made to the Oriental Hotel in 1909, and later, while Margaret was licensee, with financial assistance from brewery giant, Tooth and Company, the pub was redeveloped into its current form (2021) in October 1917.

Meanwhile, the Rubinsons’ only son, 25-year-old Jack Joseph, married Mary Clare “Minnie” Long of Rozelle in 1915. The pair was destined to take-over the Oriental Hotel.

Ludric Rubinson lived long enough to see the completion of his redeveloped Oriental Hotel in 1917, and he died the following year at the age of 66 on September 26, 1918.

After his death his widow Margaret, now 65, handed the reins over to her son and daughter-in-law.

While at the helm of the Oriental Hotel, Jack and Mary Rubinson fostered and sponsored many local sporting organisations, and the pub became an ardent supporter of the Magpies Western Suburbs Rugby League Club.

Oriental Hotel, Parramatta Road, Concord. Picture: Concord Jubilee 1883-1933 booklet. Inset: John ‘Jack’ Joseph Rubinson, host from 1920 to 1956. Picture: Supplied.
Western Suburbs Rugby League Officials from left; H. Moxham, Bob Listen, W. Finegan, Oriental Hotel publican, Jack Joseph Rubinson (wearing cap) and E. McFadyen. Picture: Labor Daily, August 2, 1934.

Jack was vice president of the Magpies club during the 1930s before goin onto to become its patron. He also sponsored an annual football tournament between local schools known as the Oriental Cup.

Meanwhile, Jack and Mary’s son, Jack Long Rubinson was making quite a name for himself on the rugby league field. He was born the year before the death of his grandfather – the founder of the hotel dynasty – and the year his father’s hotel was rebuilt in 1917.

At the age of 19, Jack Long Rubinson made his debut playing in the NSW Rugby Football League (RFL) premiership for University in 1936. By 1938 he had signed to play first grade with his father’s beloved Western Suburbs club. He played one season with the Magpies.

Rubinson’s Oriental Hotel, Concord, 1930. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.
Rubinson’s Oriental Hotel, Concord, 1939. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

In 1940, Jack was playing in the lower grades for North Sydney Bears in the NSW RFL premiership before a short stint with the Waratah-Mayfield Club in the Newcastle competition.

Rubinson returned to first grade football playing with the North Sydney Bears in 1941.

Interestingly, during the 1941 season, although signed with the Bears, he also pulled on a jersey for the Newtown Blue Bottles during a NSW RFL match against Canterbury Berries.

The war years had seen many of the league’s young players fighting overseas, and Jack was instructed to have a run with a depleted Newtown team, which was short of men. Jack scored the winning try for Newtown against Canterbury in the last minute of play; with the Blue Bottles defeating the Berries 26-25. The game raised £107 for war funds.

The year 1941 was memorable for the 24-year-old rugby league player as he was also engaged to Esme Dale. They married the following year.

Jack Long Rubinson walking his greyhounds. Picture: Daily Telegraph, June 18, 1941
The Oriental Hotel, Concord, 1949. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

The outbreak of the war seen Jack join the AIF, and he served as a sergeant.

By the early 1950s, Jack Joseph Rubinson, host of the Oriental Hotel, had become patron of Western Suburbs Rugby League Club. Jack senior died at the age of 66 in 1956, and his son, Jack Junior, now 39, took the license of the Oriental Hotel.

Jack Junior became the third generation of Rubinson to host the Oriental Hotel.

A company was formed by the name of Rubinson Hotel Pty Ltd and a second mortgage was taken with Tooth & Company brewery to undertake more improvements to the ageing hotel.

Jack and Esme Rubinson hosted the Oriental Hotel for another 12 years, continuing the family tradition of fostering and sponsoring local sporting organisations.

The Oriental Hotel, Concord, 1960. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University. Inset: Esme and Jack Long Rubinson. Pictures: Supplied.

The end of the Rubinson family’s association with the pub came with the death of the family matriarch on August 24, 1968. Mary Clare “Minnie” Rubinson died at the age of 80.

The following year, John Long Rubinson, now 54, retired as licensee, with Robert George Grant taking over as host of the Oriental Hotel.

After almost 70 years a Rubinson was no longer behind the bar of the Oriental Hotel, and an era had ended on Parramatta Road, Concord.

Rubinson’s Oriental Hotel, Concord, 1970. Picture: Noel Butlin Archives, Australian National University.

The hotel was sold to Burwood Hotels Pty Ltd, a consortium made up of Kevin William Ashley, Gilbert William Etheridge, Peter Hemming, Kenneth William Owens, Diana Ellen Sawnders, Jane Alexandra Stevenson, and Sidney Max Hemming.

The new owners paid out the mortgage to Tooth and Company, and a new licensee, Ken Owens, former host of the Exchange Hotel on Oxford Street, Darlinghurst became publican.

The hotel’s sign was officially changed from the Oriental to the Pine Inn on May 16, 1980. Ken Owens became one the most popular hosts of the Pine Inn, and sadly died while licensee at the young age of 40 in 1985.

Esme Adelaide Rubinson, the wife of the former rugby player and host of the Oriental Hotel, died in 1982. Jack Long Rubinson died on December 12 1994 at the age of 79. He’s buried in Mona Vale Cemetery.

On June 15 2021 the owners of the Pine Inn were officially given notice by the NSW Government that the property would be compulsorily acquisitioned for the Sydney Metro West Line rail project. The pub closed for business on June 30, 2021 and is awaiting demolition.

The hotel advertised its demise on its Facebook Page last year.

A number of comments and memories of the Pine Inn were posted to social media after the announcement was made that the pub would close for business. Here are a selection:

Dave Brown Jnr

Very sad to hear that The Pine Inn called “Last Drinks”. The Pine was “Home Ground” for us Concord boys that played in rock bands back in the 80’s and 90’s. Rob the publican was a great guy and always gave my bands, NO EXIT – The Angels Show, Southern Stars, Hellfire, Cold Gin and The Bears plenty of work. Another local band that played at The Pine regularly was Keep Ya Day Job. We attracted the locals and he paid us well for it. NO EXIT played there on New Years Eve 1994, and Rob said that that was the only time he ever had to order all the furniture (including the Bistro) out of the pub to get the punters in. It was packed to the rafters. We have a lot of great memories captured playing “Live at The Pine” on video and countless photos. A big “THANK YOU” to all the staff at The Pine Inn and everyone that supported live music at this great venue over the years. We had a ball! Cheers! 

Stuart Lemon

Drank at your pub most for most of my youth and even met my wife there in April 1989. It was definitely the best pub in the area. End of the month will be a sad day…

David Little

Damn, so many memories from that place! Good times & a whole lotta fun! Many nights spent with school buddies…met my first girlfriend there watching the band… surely it should be heritage listed.

Claire Endacott

Far out, I just googled – it looks nothing like I remembered. My favourite memory of this place was being out in the beer garden at the back (before beer gardens existed) and one of the regulars came in on his bike and took off his open face helmet – when he drank his beer the moths were falling out of his beard into his drink.

Oriental Hotel, Concord, licensees

August 1873 – 1882: Edward McDonald

1882 – 1883: Albert Palmer

1883 – 1884: John O’Connell

1884 – 1886: George S. Quail

1886 – 1891: John Delaney

1891 – 1892: John McQuillian

1892 – 1898: Alexander McNeill

1898 – 1899: Frank Wright

1899 – 1900: Robert Clark

1900 – 1900: Thomas Chapman

September 1900 – 1912: Ludic Rubinson

1912 – 1919: Margaret Rubinson

1919 – 1956: John ‘Jack’ Joseph Rubinson

1956 – 1969: John ‘Jack’ Long Rubinson

1969 – 1970: Robert George Grant

1970 – 1978: Burwood Hotels Pty Ltd

1978 – 1985: Kenneth William Owens

Can anyone help us with the publicans between 1985 and 2021?

© Copyright Mick Roberts 2022


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Categories: Australian Hotels, NSW hotels, Sydney hotels

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2 replies

  1. Gday Mick, great write up of the old pine inn , ive always ive been interested as to how this pub came to be. this was my local throughout my teens/20s and we had many a character come through including bikies , irish road workers , conspiracy theorists , brawlers and armed robbers to boot!

    I know the bath arms had a connection the to convict stockade but had no idea the pine did to !

  2. Mark Duggan was the publican when i drank there

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