The Great Northern Hotel was built on a site opposite Newcastle terminus train station at 'the top of town' in 1863 and attracted weary travellers from Sydney looking for meals and lodging close to all the main attractions.
During the early to mid-twentieth century Newcastle's CBD was a bustling metropolis savouring wealth from coal and steel industries and local production for everything from electric light bulbs to hosiery.
Workers lined ten-deep on the pavement to catch one of the many trams* or buses queued along Hunter Street for the commute back home to the outer suburbs. On Saturdays the streets were thick with dapper shoppers and day-trippers looking for a way to spend their hard-earned cash.
New plans were developed for the hotel in 1937 by Rudder & Grout Architects and Engineers for brewers Tooth and Co. Rudder & Grout where also responsible for North Sydney Olympic Swimming Pool and the Qantas Building at Chifley Square in Sydney. It was Tooth's biggest hotel in their group at the time. Building was conducted by a local firm, Paynter & Dixon Ltd, and was completed in January 1938. Designed as a fashionable meeting place with no expense spared, all manner of luminaries bedded here including various Prime Ministers.
The hotel in the 1950s.
The east and west wings were raised one level to be the same height as the central wing in the 1950s. You can see the difference in the colour of the brickwork of the central and western wings in the more recent image below.
Its more recent history is one that's repeated up and down the streets of Newcastle's CBD - a grand old dame of a building that's seen much better days. Having suffered decades of neglect as local industries slowed and died off and shoppers discovered all the conveniences of suburban malls, the death knell sounded in 1989 by way of a the earthquake which caused destruction for many buildings in the CBD. It was closed for approximately fifteen years.
Thankfully much of its integrity remained and The Great Northern Hotel
is now listed on the NSW Heritage Register. New owners are undertaking
what looks to be an slow but sympathetic restoration with the
street-level bar and bistro reopened in January.
Source: faroutbrusselsprout blogspot