Fairfield Railway Hotel

For generations of Sydney pub-goers, a Tooth and Co establishment was the place to go for a good time. At one point, the family company, founded in 1835, owned, ran, or brewed for hundreds of hotels and public houses across NSW. Few of their properties have survived the years unchanged but the recent digitisation of a long-buried archive has brought hundreds of historical photographs to light.

The Australian National University project has given former patrons and architectural enthusiasts the chance to reminisce over their favourite venues.

The publicly listed company’s empire included the renowned Kent Brewery in Broadway as well as breweries in Wagga Wagga, Goulburn, and Newcastle. The photographs, dating back to the early 1900s, were given to the Australian National University when the company was sold to Carlton and United Breweries in 1983.

Dining Room of the Great Northern Hotel, Newcastle 1938

After safeguarding the collection for years in storage, archivists are now digitising the ageing images to preserve them. Some of the recognisable pubs include the Hotel Canterbury, the Australian Hotel in Sydney’s CBD, and the Art Deco-styled Vauxhall Inn in Granville.

The collection also features intriguing details such as the venue sale prices. The Oaks Hotel at Neutral Bay sold for £27,586 in 1938, according to the annotated records.

Archivist Rachel Armstrong has been combing through thousands of pictures for the project. She said the photographs contained rare depictions of Sydney life at the turn of the 20th century.

“The photos from the early 1900s, we haven’t really seen a lot of those before,” she said.

“They will have the publican and locals out the front, so we get to see not just the hotel but the people who worked in the hotel, and those who lived in the town.”

Spanning more than 80 years, the collection also captured the changing styles of architecture.

“Generally the company would take a photo of the hotel each decade and you can see the change in style from the early 1900s through to the 1980s,” Ms Armstrong said.

Design enthusiasts can see the original works of Art Deco-style architects, such as Cyril Ruwald and the firm Rudder & Grout, prior to their modern renovations.

Ms Armstrong said there had already been a significant amount of public interest in the project.

“These photographs speak to so many people, we are constantly contacted by people who have a connection to the pub,” she said.

“[Even today] pubs have this real connection with Australians and many of us have a connection with our local.”

Saloon Bar at The Oaks Hotel, Neutral Bay 1938

The university was continuing to work with specialists to process the images.

Ms Armstrong said the full collection will be available online by the middle of the year.

Source: By Matthew Bamford – https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-02-19/tooth-and-co-photo-collection-captures-sydneys-hotel-history/11965596