241 Smith St, Fitzroy (General Jackson Hotel / Sydney Hotel)

  • The General Jackson Hotel was located on the corner of Smith and Hodgson streets, Fitzroy. The General Jackson Hotel is located at 141 or 147 Smith Street pre 1876. It later has the addresses of 219 Smith St (from approx 1876 – 1886) and 241 Smith St (some time around 1886 onwards). Today it holds this address and is a fresh fruit store and next door is the entry to the Woolworths.
The General Jackson Hotel today as a Fruit and Vegetable store

The earliest record I can find of the General Jackson Hotel is in November 1860. John Jackson and his wife Mary Ann Jackson (along with their surviving four children) travelled from Liverpool, England in the 1850’s. Julia, their first daughter was born in England in 1851, and their next daughter Mary Ann Jackson is born in 1854 in Collingwood. In 1860, John Jackson is the landlord of the General Jackson Hotel as recorded in the Sands & McDougall Directories and a reference in the Argus.

“Although the hotel was opened in 1861 the details of the building – the red bricks, the cornice mouldings executed entirely in brick (for reasons of economy); the flat window heads; the semi-circular brick arches – all indicate that this building came considerably later that, most likely in the early years after 1900 during the Edwardian period. A concession to the growing Art Nouveau movement is made in the form of heavy plaster decoration crudely stuck on over the windows and doorways on the ground floor.” (Hotels in Fitzroy up to 1906, Nicola A Piccolo, 1971).

The pub is a site used for gatherings, particularly politicians such as E Langton (Jul 1861), William Watkins (Dec 1862) and Mr Don (Oct 1864) and also was the meeting house for the society “Court Sherwood Forest No.8004” of which John was a Brother.

On 13 Mar 1864, John passed away. In the year following his widow has a dispute with the then Proprietor Basil Horwood about her lease, but remains in the property and is recorded in the 1865 Sands & McDougall Directories. It wasn’t only Mrs Jackson that faced disputes following John’s death, there is also a court case referencing the disputed ownership of a chair, claimed to have been provided by John to the Court Sherwood Forest.

What happens with Mrs Mary Anne Jackson after this date is uncertain, her three daughters are all recorded as marrying in the mining town of Reefton, South Island, New Zealand between 1874 and 1876. However records suggest that she passed away in Fitzroy on 16 January 1880.

The General Jackson Hotel as it was in the Heritage Study photos

It is also a bit sketchy as to the transfer of the ownership of the Hotel and when it changed names, I am yet to claw through the rate books. It was some time between 1865 and 1870 -1875 when John Prendergast owned the ‘Sydney Hotel’. The hotel then changes hands a number of times (and I am sure there are some I am not aware of), those I know of are:

  • William Jones purchases the Hotel through a broker Francis W Tucker in 1876
  • Jas. J. Cotter is registered in 1880 (Sands & McDougall)
  • Frederick Crumbaugh transferred the licence to Charles Martin in 1881.
  • William Gardner transferred the license to Margaret Hopkins in 1882
  • John McInerney is recorded as being ‘late of the Sydney Hotel’ in the notices published in 1883 about his insolvency.
  • C Paser is registered in 1885 (Sands & McDougall)
  • Miss Ellen O’Connor ‘mislaid’ her licence in 1886 and the Court awarded her a replacement in December.
  • Mrs E O’Connor then transferred the licence to Mrs Elizabeth Dennis in 1887.
  • Mrs Mary Young is recorded in 1890 (Sands & McDougall)
  • Some stability is restored with Mathew Allen and his wife Ellen running the Sydney Hotel from approximately 1891 (Ellen gives birth to a Boy), 1895 (Sands & McDougall), 1900 (Sands & McDougall) and 1904, where the license is transferred by Mathew to his wife Ellen. Mathew at this time was applying for a licence for the Birmingham Hotel on the corner of Smith and Johnston Sts.
  • The licence transferred from Hugh Douglas to Edward Douglas on 1909.
  • The licence again transferred in August 1949 from Graham Smith to Ivon John & Helen Field.

Research into each of these licensees has not occurred as yet.

The following is sourced from Jill Robertson, Fitzroy Historical Society, January 2006 newsletter – the full text is available by the link.

The plan states: ‘Sydney Hotel Smith Sheet Fitzroy. Proposed alterations for Mrs M E Smith. Architect H John Ahern, l2 Ryeburne Ave Hawthorn.’ Unfortunately there is no date. The alterations included a new fire escape, a clothes line on the flat roof and a laundry.

The hotel had a large underground cellar, a ground floor, and two storeys. The ground floor included a 29 foot long bar, a lounge, a women’s parlour, a fireplace and toilets for men and women. The first floor appeared to be the domain of women, for it had two bedrooms, (one with its own fireplace), a dining room with a fireplace, a kitchen, a cupboard for use by lodgers, and a woman’s toilet and bath. The second floor was reserved for men and had four bedrooms and a bathroom and toilet for men. However, it also included a laundry and an area on the roof which the plan labelled ‘Flat roof and drying area’. Evidently this was where the new clothes line was to be installed.

Plans for the alterations at Sydney Hotel – unfortunately these are not dated.

While I don’t know the exact dates, these look to be in the 1940s – there is record of John Ahern living at 12 Ryburne Avenue in 1952. There is also a record of Graham Smith being the licensee of the Sydney Hotel in 1949. Graham Smith transferred the licence to Ivon John Field and Helen Field on 24 Aug 1949.

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