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Hunter Valley Inns and Hotels

The Old Ground Young - West Maitland

In 1902 the Maitland Mercury reported on an old landmark in High Street, West Maitland that was being demolished, the former Old Ground Young Hotel. Some of the history of the streets of old West Maitland was included in the article:

Old West Maitland

One of the oldest if not the very oldest houses in West Maitland is being demolished in High-street, viz., the old dilapidated premises near the corner of Devonshire- street, which in the thirties was known to residents as the 'Old Ground Young' Hotel, kept by Rose McGuinness.

Mr. Alex. Wilkinson, who was a lad going to school at the time, remembers the old place distinctly. The signboard of the house, he says, was painted by Dicky Gossip, an artist of the old school. It represented a decrepit old man with a stick walking into a mill on one side, and on the other passing out as a smart young fellow, who had been 'ground young' in the mill.

The boys of the period used to call the figure of the old man 'Old O'Donnell,' (William O'Donnell) the oldest resident of the time, who died at something over a hundred years of age. He had a grant of land from the Crown which embraced the whole of High-street from the railway station to the Queen's Arms on both sides, the date of the grant being 1823.

Wallis Creek in those days was a fine stream of water running into the Hunter at the back of Brewer's old saw mills. From the Victoria Bridge to the old 'Red Cow,' on the East Maitland Road, another ancient hostelry contemporary with the 'Old Ground Young,' the iron gang raised the main road several feet, which left the buildings that much lower all along. This accounts for the floor of the 'Old Ground Young' Hotel being about three feet below the level of High-street.

The iron gang had a stockade on the ground where 'Fairylawn,' the residence of Mr. J. Enright, J.P., now stands. On one occasion it is remembered that Canon Stack, whilst preaching to the men on Sunday, rebuked them because they listened with more earnestness to the ribald songs of the Jewboy gang than to his exhortations.

The old buildings, though they have stood for over seventy years, give evidence of the durability of Australian timber, some of which is as sound now as the day it was used. - Maitland Daily Mercury 11 January 1902.

Notes and Links

1). Fairy Lawn, the site of the old Maitland Stockade was located on the corner of Hannan and High Streets. Location on this map