Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Old Oak Inn - Lord Cardigan Hotel

148 - 150 Darby Street Cook's Hill

Lord Cardigan Hotel in Darby Street, Cooks Hill
Once known as Lake Macquarie Road, Darby Street, Cook's Hill was re-named for George Elde Darby, A. A. Company surveyor, around the 1870s.

The Old Oak Hotel stood in Darby Street, opposite the Miner's Arms, for over eighty years. The location can be found on this Mahlstedt and Gee Surveyors Map dated 1886. The building, which was once one of eight hotels that stood between Hunter-street and Bull-street, had historic associations dating back to the days of the windjammers, and the adventurous sailors who frequented the district making the most of their limited time ashore in the port of Newcastle.

Darby-street was described in an article in the Newcastle Sun in 1938 on the occasion of the Lord Cardigan, formerly the Old Oak Inn being demolished -

The colourful days of Newcastle back in the 1860s, when one encountered turbaned Indians, Lascars, diminutive Japanese with shining, blue-black hair and most of the other nations of the world in a short stroll were the hey-day of the Old Oak. Life in those days was adventurous, especially if one was attracted to the cheerful noise and gas-lit atmosphere of one of the numerous hotels dotted all over the city. Those who had regard for the sensitiveness of their skulls or the weight of their pockets found it advisable to walk down the centre of Darby-street at night.

There have been many changes over the life-time of the Old Oak. Bullock teams have passed by its doors to the accompaniment of profanity, for which the drivers were noted. "Drags," horse- drawn vehicles, have rattled over the sleeper-formed Darby-street of the early days, and later, modern motor cars have sped swiftly over the smooth surface of the macadamised road. Thirty years ago Darby-street was the old route to the lake. The problem of getting the horse-drawn vehicles over the rough and bumpy surface was no easy one, especially on hot days, but the perspiring drivers found consolation in the many hotels which invited with open doors along Darby and Macquarie-streets. With the passing of the years, the gradual departure of the picturesque days and the lessening demand for "refreshment," all the old public houses along the city end of the route have gone. Some have been reconstructed into residentials: others have been pulled down. The Lord Cardigan is the last to remain almost wholly intact, and it is now going the way of the others, making way for the march of progress. On the site will be erected four modern flats and two shops.

Portion of the brickwork, which has stood the test of time, will be used in the flats, but the remainder of the building will be demolished. Within a stone's throw of the building are two other old public houses, now covered with the veneer of residential respectability. Just opposite is the Miners' Arms Hotel of former years - now indistinguishable except for the weather-beaten name still to be discerned, and alongside is another old hotel, which has been transformed into flats.

Evidence of the hotel building's age is provided by some of the timber pulled down by Mr. C. W. Seeley, builder, of Merewether, and his assistants. The timber, he said, was "pit sawn," that is, by a huge saw, one end of which was worked in the air and the other in a pit. This type of cutting has been superseded for many years by more modern methods.

Early in the century, Mr. Seeley recalled, it was not safe to walk along Darby-street at night, especially at the inter- section of Sydney-street (Tyrrell), on the corner, of which was a notorious public house. There gathered all the riff-raff of the town, and they were not averse to earning a dishonest pound or two by curing a passer-by of his probable insomnia by an experienced blow on the head. "Darby-street in those days was formed mostly of sleepers," he said. "It was a terrible road. When there was a bit of wind the Bar Beach end of the street was covered in sand. In the latter years of its existence the Lord Cardigan Hotel building has been used as a shop and residential

Following are some of owners of the Old Oak Hotel and the publicans who held licences in the old Inn over the years:

John Smith

One of the early references to the Old Oak Inn in Trove is in 1857 when John Smith was refused a publican's licence. [2]

William Lewis Jones

In 1859 William Lewis Jones was landlord of the Old Oak Inn [3]. The Inn was the scene of weddings and election speeches in these days

John Smith

In April 1860, 1861[4] and 1862, John Smith was granted the publican's licence for the Old Oak Inn [5]. In 1862 he organised a Ball offering refreshments and dancing to commence at 8pm at the Inn on 13th January 1862. The music was to be conducted by Mr. Faning. Double Tickets 5s 6d. Single Tickets 3s. 6d. [6]

As well as sailors from around the world, the Old Oak was frequented by navvies who were working on the railway line further up the valley.[7]

In 1865 the Inn was put up for public auction - Mr. W. K. Lockhead has been favoured with instructions from Mr. J. Smith to sell by public auction on the Premises, Darby-street, Lake Macquarie Road, Newcastle, The Public House known as the Old Oak Inn, a substantial brick building, containing eight rooms comprisong bar, bagatelle-room, spacious ball-room, four bed rooms, parlour, detached kitchen, store, outhouses and other conveniences. The premises have a frontage of 65 feet to Darby-street, by a depth of 165 feet; ample supply of pure water, and ground substantially fenced in. The house is now doing a good trade, and the reason the proprietor wishes to sell is on account of declining health. [8]

William Sainsbury

William Sainsbury was granted a licence for the Old Oak in 1866, 1867, 1868 and 1869

In March 1870 Sainsbury decided to retire from the business and put the paraphernalia of the Inn up for public auction, including the whole of his Household Furniture, and also a splendid bagatelle table with cues and a horse, cart and harness [9]

Sidney Casey

Sidney Casey was granted a publican's licence in 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873

There were no more advertisements of Balls held in the old Inn as in the earlier days, however in 1871 a pigeon shooting match was organised on Shepherd's Hill on Anniversary Day (Australia Day), between George Waller and John Bell. Shooters were to meet at the Old Oak Inn. [10]

In 1873 the freehold on the land was offered for sale, for particulars interested parties were directed to apply to auctioneer W. K. Lochhead or Sidney Casey:

The Old Oak Inn
Sidney Casey was a bricklayer. In 1882 he was contracted to make extensive improvements to the Waratah Pottery Works. (see Heritage Locations for location of the Pottery) A large brick kiln and other improvements were made [11], however in 1883 Casey was said to be the keeper of a house of ill-fame in Dawson-street where he ill-treated a little girl Francis Goundry aged 8 who was in his employment as a housekeeper. [12]. He may have died at Gladesville Hospital for the Insane in 1888

John Green

John Green was granted a licence for the Old Oak Inn in 1874. [13]

Mary Green his widow, was granted a licence in 1877 and 1878. [14]. She advertised the licence, furniture, stock and goodwill for lease in August 1878 [15]

Fanny L'Estrange

In October 1878 the publican's licence for the Inn was transferred from Mary Green to Fanny L'Estrange, a feisty widow well capable of taking on the riff-raff that frequented Darby-street in those days.[16] Fanny L'Estrange held the licence until 1879.

Advertisement - for sale, lease, the License of the Old Oak Hotel, Lake Road. Apply to Mrs. F. L'Estrange on the premises [17]. In December Fanny L'Estrange announced that she had taken over the premises of the Devonshire Hotel in Market Square, and renovated and enlarged them, intending to carry on the business there under the name of the Cafe De Paris. [18]

In December 1881 she was proprietor of the Occidental Hotel. Fanny L'Estrange's correspondence in 1881

Fanny L'Estrange died in January 1890 at her residence 82 Lower Church-street, Newcastle and was buried in Sandgate Cemetery

Wood Brothers

John and Joseph Woods (wine and spirit merchants of Newcastle) trading as Wood Brothers advertising the premises of the Old Oak Hotel for sale in April 1879 [19]

James Coppard

James Coppard re-opened the Old Oak Hotel having renovated and refurnished the premises [20]. James Coppard had previously run the Cafe de Paris in Darby Street.

James Coppard was advertising the hotel to be let in January 1882 [21]

Mrs. Lehmann

Mrs. Lehmann, probably of German descent, may have been employed at the Hotel. She was advertising for a general servant at the Old Oak in February 1884, however there is no mention of her being granted a licence. [22]

George John Chidgey

George John Chidgey had previously carried on a business as a produce merchant and had once formed a first-class amateur dramatic company at Newcastle before becoming the licensee of the Old Oak. [23] He and his wife Matilda Chidgey ran the hotel for about eight years from 1885 to 1893.

George John Chidgey was granted license in 1891 [24], however by 1893 he had become ill. He announced he was retiring on account of his ill health and the license and goodwill were offered for lease [25]. George Chidgey died at Church-street West, Newcastle in January 1897 having been confined to bed for a long time.

Margaret Jane Matilda Chidgey, relict of the late George John Gidgey of Newcastle and mother of Joseph and George Chidgey died on 30 October 1919 at her residence Annandale, Bennett-street, Bondi [26]

Alexander Lindsay

In 1889 Alexander Lindsay of Patrick-street Junction owned the premises of the Hotel. He called for tenders for the Painting of the Old Oak Inn [27]. In 1893 he was advertising to let two cottages near the Old Oak Inn [28]

Reminiscences of B. Johns who was born in Perkin-street, City, 65 years ago. This is his story - It was early in the 1890's. Newcastle was a hive of overseas ships, taking coal. There was a large floating population made up of the crews. The majority of sailors were roughs from different parts of the world. Darby-street was then the old Lake-road, and it was known as a tougher part of Australia than the notorious Rocks, around Woolloomooloo. There were 10 hotels between Hunter-street and Bull-street. Sailors made it their rendezvous, and many a time shanghai gangs picked up their quotas in that area. I was about 8 or 9 then. My parents kept one of the hotels, the Miners' Arms. It was built by my grandfather with bricks made by him in a kiln where Hayman's clothing factory stands to-day.

One Sunday morning, about half an hour after midnight, we heard a lot of firing going on in Darby-street. My mother and I were standing on our hotel verandah watching the hotel opposite, the Old Oak, from which the firing came. "It had none too sweet a name, the Old Oak. As we watched, a cart came out of the lane beside it and moved off in a southerly direction along the Lake-road, with three or four men on it. There was nothing found out then, but many years after, when the Alien Immigration Act was very strictly in force, a foreigner gave himself up. I think it was in Melbourne. He said he had been implicated in a murder in Newcastle, and couldn't rest till he had shown them where the body had been placed. They brought him here, and he took them out over the hills between Glebe and Glenrock Lagoon, but the search for the body was in vain. They decided the foreigner was trying to put one over, and he was deported. A few years later, some youths were exploring Murmuring Gully, between Bailey's orchard and Glenrock, and they came on a skeleton which, if my memory serves me right, had a watch and chain lying beside it. It was evidently the skeleton of the man who had been thrown there after the murder in the Old Oak. "I saw evidence of that murder with my own eyes, in the second room on the top floor of that hotel, which was kept by one of my own relatives years afterwards. On turning back the linoleum, there was a bloodstain which showed the upper torso, legs and arms of a man's body; but the head must have been resting on the skirting board. "I showed it to two or three people, but since those days the place has been reconstructed, made into flats. I think the flooring has been taken away. It's impossible now to show anyone
. [29]

Robert Atkinson

Robert Atkinson was granted a licence for the Old Oak Hotel in June 1893. In 1894 he was granted three months' leave of absence of license by the Newcastle Police Office [30]

In July 1894 the license was transferred from Robert Atkinson to Andrew McPhail. [31]

Andrew and Elizabeth McPhail

During the 1890's the Hotel became known as the Royal Oak Hotel. Elizabeth McPhail was mentioned as the wife of the publican in August 1894 [32]

Andrew McPhail was granted the license in June 1896. [33] In August 1896 when the Hotel was the scene of a shooting, the licensee was Andrew McPhail and his wife Elizabeth was a witness in court.

George Hawkins

In 1897 the license was transferred from Andrew McPhail to George Hawkins [34]. The License was transferred from George Hawkins to Samuel Dunstan in 1898 [35]

Samuel Dunstan

In 1898, 1899 and 1900 Samuel Dunstan held the licence and it was still known as the Royal Oak Hotel.[36]

Tenders were invited for additions to the Old Oak by architect James Henderson in 1899 [37]

Samuel Dunstan was fined in February 1900 for permitting liquor to be consumed at his licensed premises. [38]. He offered the licence and goodwill of the Old Oak for sale in February 1900 [39], however his licence was renewed in June 1900.

Samuel Dunstan was granted a licence for the Miners' Arms at Lambton in June 1901 [40]. He died at Wickham in 1916 [41]

William Stewart Gore

The license was transferred from Samuel Dunstan to William Stewart Gore in December 1900 [42]. William Stewart Gore was again granted a license for the Old Oak Hotel in June 1901 [43]

Messrs. Tooth and Co

Builder Thomas Smith was calling for tenders for large additions and alterations to the Hotel for Messrs Tooth and Co. [44]

Jesse Blakemore

In 1903 Jesse Blakemore, formerly from Adamstown, was granted permission to change the name of the Old Oak Hotel to the Lord Cardigan. [45]. In 1904 Jesse Blakemore, of the Lord Cardigan Hotel, Darby-street, was granted a booth license for the Newcastle races [46]

In 1905 Jesse Blakemore applied for six months' leave of absence from September 7th, nominating his wife as agent. The case was adjourned for a week in order to enable applicant to overcome an objection lodged by the police. Jesse Blakemore later took out the licence for the Commercial Hotel at Adamstown.

Edmund A. Hallam

The licence of the Lord Cardigan was transferred from Jesse Blakemore to Edmund A. Hallam in October 1905 [47]

Robert Slowgrove

In 1906 hotelkeeper of the Lord Cardigan, Robert Slowgrove, 34, was charged with having been concerned with stealing tobacco the property of J. Ireland Ltd.. [48]

In 1907 he applied to have the licence transferred to Henry Hullen which was granted. [49]

Henry Hallen

In August 1907 Mrs. Hullen advertised Electric Light Baths and Massages for the cure of Rheumatism etc as well as Electrolysis to remove superfluous hair, moles. Her address in the advertisement - Lord Cardigan Hotel & Sanatorium, Darby-street. Take the Merewether Beach Tram [50]

T. J. Gascoigne

In 1908 Newcastle Amateur Bicycle Club held its General Meeting in Gascoigne's Lord Cardigan Hotel [51]

John McKenzie

In May 1909 a transfer was granted of the licence of the Lord Cardigan Hotel from T. J. Gascoigne to John McKenzie [52]

In 1910 architect Thomas Smith was calling for tenders for the painting and repairs at the Lord Cardigan for Tooth and Co. [53]

Lavinia Grace Mackay

In May 1910 the license was transferred from John Mackenzie to Lavinia Grace Fairfield Mackay [54]. Lavinia Mackay was the widow of Allan Mackay, hotelkeeper formerly of Rockvale near Armidale. [55]

George Thomas Snipe

In January 1911 the license was transferred from Lavinia Grace Snipe to George Thomas Snipe [56]

Theophilus and Ann Tresidder

A renewal of a publican's licence for Theophilus Herbert Tresidder was granted in June 1913. [57]
In March 1917 the Hotel was known as Tresidder's Lord Cardigan Hotel when election speeches were once again given from the balcony of the hotel [58].

The Tresidders continued to hold the licence until August 1920 when it was transferred to William Carter.

Mrs. Ann McIntosh Tressider was born in 1875 in Newcastle. She died in October 1948. [59]

Margaret Lindsay

In 1915 the premises of the hotel and two weatherboard cottages adjoining were offered for sale by auction by order of the administrators in the estate of the late Margaret Lindsay, deceased. The Hotel was described as being of solid brick construction, containing in all about 14 rooms and all the necessary accommodation for the conduct of a large business. The weatherboard cottages adjoining are very comfortable and return 8s per week each. The land had a frontage of 66 feet to Darby-street by a depth of 106 feet with 9 foot right-of-way from rear of Hotel to Dawson street. The hotel portion was held under lease with five years yet to run an annual rental of 78 ponds [60]

The freehold premises of the hotel and adjoining cottages were again advertised for sale in January 1919 [61]

William Carter

License transferred from Theophilus Tressider to William Carter [62].

George Hyde

In 1921, the Licenses Reduction Board looked closely into the workings of hotels in New South Wales. They closed 23 hotels in the Newcastle region, however the Old Oak Inn was not one of them. Following is the assessment of the Board - William Carter Licensee; George Hyde, owner. Inspector Cook said there was one conviction for allowing persons on the premises during unlawful hours. The Hotel was of two stories with brick walls and an iron roof. There were seven boarders there and the house generally catered for the public. He was against its retention for the reason that it was too small. William Carter said he became licensee in August last. He paid £650 for the five years lease. There were seven bedrooms all told, five of which were available to the public. The total house takings since he took possession was £224, the weekly average being £10 4s 4d. The bar takings for the same period accounted to £981 1s 1d . During the five months 568 people were catered for in the house. George Hyde, owner of the hotel said tenders for painting and otherwise improving the external part of the hotel had been called. Improvements to the internal part of the building as a matter for the licensee. J. R. Davison representing Tooth and Co gave particulars of the hotel's beer trade. [63]

It was reported in the Newcastle Morning Herald in May 1938 that at the time that a reduction of hotels in the city was required (c. 1921) the Lord Cardigan Hotel was the only one left in Darby-street [64]

Susan Letitia Hyde

In 1922 there was a dispute in court re the option of the purchase of the lease, license, goodwill and furniture of the hotel between plaintiffs Susan Letitia Hyde, widow of George Hyde, and Violet Raymond Delaney, wife of Victor Raymond Delaney, clerk of the Terminus Hotel, (daughter of George Hyde), and defendant William Carter. Justice Owen delivered judgement for the plaintiffs on all issues [65]. However in July 1923 Carter took his case to the High Court [66]

Victor Delaney

In 1924 Victor Raymond Delany made Application to move the licence of the Lord Cardigan Hotel situated at No. 148 - 150 Darby-street Newcastle to premises proposed to be erected on land situated at the corner of Darby-street and Council-street, Newcastle [67]

There was no police objection to his application which was granted. Mr. Griffiths who appeared in support of the application said that the two sites were about 42 yards apart. The present building of the Lord Cardigan at 148-150 was old and dilapidated and it was proposed to erect a modern building on the site. [68]

Lord Cardigan Hotel Sold

One of Darby-street's oldest and most substantial landmarks, formerly the Lord Cardigan Hotel, and now in use as a residential, was sold yesterday. It will probably be demolished to make way for a more imposing residential or flats building. The price and the purchaser were not disclosed. Despite its age, its 13 rooms, surrounded by massive walls, are still in reasonably sound condition. The premises, which are on land with a frontage of 66ft. by 171ft., were part of the Parnell Estate. [69]


In 1938 the Newcastle Morning Herald reported that demolishers were at work on the old building in Darby-street that was formerly a licensed house, and was known as the Lord Cardigan hotel. Flats were to occupy the site. The building, according to Mr. James Dart of Newcastle was erected about 75 years previously, a contractor named Moses Edwards carrying out the brickwork. The place was originally kept by a Mr. Lee. [70]


[1] Newcastle Sun 14 June 1938

[2] Northern Times 5 December 1857

[3] Bells Life 16 April 1859

[4] Publican's Licences State Archives NSW; Series: 14403; Item: [7/1512]; Reel: 1241

[5] Newcastle Chronicle 20 April 1861

[6] Newcastle Chronicle 8 January 1862

[7] Newcastle Chronicle 26 July 1862

[8] The Maitland Mercury 29 June 1865

[9] The Newcastle Chronicle 29 March 1870

[10] Newcastle Chronicle 19 January 1871

[11] Newcastle Morning Herald 27 June 1882

[12] Newcastle Morning Herald 16 January 1883

[13] Publican's licences State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 14411; Item: 7/1514; Reel: 1243

[14] Newcastle Morning Herald 4 July 1878

[15] Newcastle Morning Herald 23 August 1878

[16] Newcastle Morning Herald 30 October 1878

[17] Newcastle Morning Herald 21 November 1879

[18] Newcastle Morning Herald 23 December 1879

[19] Newcastle Morning Herald 10 April 1879

[20] Newcastle Morning Herald 30 December 1879

[21] Newcastle Morning Herald 9 January 1882

[22] Newcastle Morning Herald 21 February 1884

[23] Newcastle Morning Herald 30 January 1897

[24] Newcastle Morning Herald 12 June 1891

[25] Newcastle Morning Herald 24 January 1893

[26] Newcastle Morning Herald 15 Novmeber 1919

[27] Newcastle Morning Herald 16 April 1889

[28] Newcastle Morning Herald 28 July 1893

[29] Newcastle Morning Herald 20 March 1948

[30] Newcastle Morning Herald 5 March 1894

[31] Newcastle Morning Herald 6 July 1894

[32] Newcastle Morning Herald 9 August 1894

[33] Newcastle Morning Herald 29 June 1895.

[34] Daily Telegraph 8 October 1897

[35] Newcastle Morning Herald 14 January 1898

[36] Certificates for Publicans' Licences. State Archives NSW; Series: NRS 14411; Item: 7/1515; Reel: 1243

[37] Newcastle Morning Herald 24 June 1899

[38] Telegraph 24 February 1900

[39] Newcastle Morning Herald 28 February 1900

[40] Newcastle Morning Herald 21 June 1901

[41] Newcastle Morning Herald 10 May 1916

[42] Newcastle Morning Herald 8 December 1900

[43] Newcastle Morning Herald 21 June 1901

[44] Newcastle Morning Herald 27 June 1903

[45] Newcastle Morning Herald 4 December 1903

[46] Newcastle Morning Herald 21 April 1904

[47] Newcastle Morning Herald 6 October 1905

[48] Newcastle Morning Herald 4 August 1906

[49] Newcastle Morning Herald 19 April 1907

[50] Newcastle Morning Herald 17 August 1907

[51] Newcastle Morning Herald June 18 1908

[52] Newcastle Morning Herald 7 May 1909

[53] Newcastle Morning Herald 3 August 1910

[54] Newcastle Morning Herald 20 May 1910

[55] Newcastle Morning Herald 7 October 1907

[56] Newcastle Morning Herald 13 January 1911

[57] Newcastle Morning Herald 27 June 1913

[58] Newcastle Morning Herald 14 March 1917

[59] Newcastle Morning Herald 20 October 1948

[60] Newcastle Morning Herald 30 September 1915

[61] Newcastle Morning Herald 18 January 1919

[62] The Sun 9 August 1920

[63] Newcastle Morning Herald 14 January 1921

[64] Newcastle Morning Herald 26 May 1938

[65] Newcastle Morning Herald 10 November 1922

[66] Newcastle Morning Herald 27 July 1923

[67] Newcastle Sun 18 November 1924

[68] Newcastle Sun 15 December 1924

[69] Newcastle Morning Herald 16 March 1935

[70] Newcastle Morning Herald 18 June 1938