Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Ship Inn


James and Nancy McClymont arrived on the Andromeda in 1823.

James McClymont applied for and was granted an allotment of land in Newcastle in November 1824. This was allotment 136 in Hunter street near Perkins Street.[1] This is very close to the site of William Rouse's hotel which became known as the Newcastle Inn in the 1840's.

As well as allotment 136, James McClymont was also granted land on the Hunter River. Select here to find the location of his estate.

James and Nancy McClymont became innkeepers at the Ship Inn at the foot of Watt Street, Newcastle. A crudely painted picture of a full rigged sailing ship once swung above the floor. In the 1828 census the McClymonts had three children residing with them at Newcastle - John age 4, Sarah age 1 and William age 2 months.

John Armstrong's Map of Newcastle c. 1831 showing the location of the Ship Inn - University of Newcastle
Location of the Ship Inn in Watt Street on John Armstrong's Map of Newcastle c. 1831.

Ann Vane and James Harkins, Patrick Burns were assigned as servants in 1828/29. Charlotte Smith who arrived free was employed as a servant.

Select here to find other Innkeepers at Newcastle around this time.

John Hillier

When James McClymont died in 1829, John Hillier took over as innkeeper.[2] Sir Edward Parry, on a visit to Newcastle to examine Australian Agricultural Company holdings, stabled his horses at John Hillier's Ship Inn in 1830; he described it as a small clean Inn situated near the wharf. There were 3 parlours; 5 bedrooms; 1 kitchen; 1 store room; 4 stall stable and a coach house. John Hillier later moved to Morpeth where he became a store keeper.
Great Northern Hotel, Watt Street Newcastle. Australian Town and Country Journal (Sydney, NSW : 1870 - 1907) Sat 4 Oct 1879
In the 1832 Directory it is stated that James Pawsey kept the inn known as The Ship Inn, although in 1831 and 1832 he was issued a publican's licence for The Australian Inn. James Pawsey had previously been employed as Landing Waiter at Newcastle. The residence of the Tide Waiter can be seen on the map above next door to the Ship Inn.

The Ship Inn was situated on or close to the site of the future Great Northern Hotel.

The New Ship Inn

James Hannell had taken over the licence for the Ship Inn by 1841.

In 1842 the location was changed to a new building; a publican's licence was issued to James Hannell under the sign of the Ship Inn in Perkins Street, Newcastle.[3]

In the years 1844 - 1854 the licence was issued to James Hannell for the Ship Inn situated on the corner of Hunter and Bolton Streets.[4]

In 1844 the Ship Inn was the venue chosen when some of the town's folk held a public meeting to decide on the proper means to express gratitude to Rev. Dr. Lang for his services to the colony and to devise measures to assist in retaining him in the Legislative Council. Those at the meeting included Martin Richardson, William Rouse, J. Way, W. Watson, James McGreavy, George Tully, Job Hudson, and James Hannell.[5]

James Hannell
In December 1846 the Maitland Mercury reported that the licence of the Ship Inn had been transferred to the site of the Union Inn.........we are glad to find Mr. Hannell has removed to a more extensive establishment, as we feel assured that his general urbanity, and his constant attention to the comforts of his customers, will always secure him an ample share of public patronage. [6]

Many years later James Hannell and the Ship Inn were still remembered......Under James Hannell's regime the 'Ship Inn' became the leading hostelry in the town - it was here that the principal social and political events were held; the Oddfellows' Lodge had their Lodge room here; and all local sporting events were arranged and finalised in the Long Room. Many of the older residents of Newcastle will remember the old Inn - it had a frontage of 58 feet to Hunter street, and about 90 feet to Bolton street. It was a substantially-built brick building of two stories, and in its later years contained 23 rooms, together with a billiard room and a brick building at the rear. [7]

Matthew Lister

Matthew Lister was proprietor in 1870. He advertised the re-opening of the Inn after a complete renovation in December 1870. There was a large room fitted up for the convenience of merchants, a large billiard-room, the table of which was one of the finest in the city and the bedrooms had been enlarged and increased. [8]. Matthew Lister died in January 1880 and the licence was taken up by Alderman Thomas Downie of the Royal Hotel at Wickham [9]

Thomas Downie

Thomas Downie was issued with a licence from 1880 to 1884. In 1884 the licence was transferred to Alexander Farthing

A Ride in a Bus - A Story with a Moral mentions the Ship Inn and the omnibuses that ran down Bolton-street in the 1880s

Alexander Farthing

Alexander Farthing held the licence from 1884 to June 1887 when it was transferred to Granville A. Wood formerly of the Belmont Hotel, Lake Macquarie.

Granville A. Wood

G. A. Wood was granted a publican's licence and a billiard's licence in 1887 until January 1888 [10]

The Beginning of the End

The beginning of the end of the old Ship Inn commences today when the furniture, effects, lease, etc., are to be submitted to auction. Its last landlord, Mr. G. A. Wood during the time he has held sway has won the esteem and respect of everybody with whom he has come in contact both as a business man and host; and it is to be regretted that the extremely short time of his occupancy forbade the outlay of capital necessary to render the old Ship the hostelry he would have wished. However with the assistance of his charming partner for life he has succeeded in making their departure a matter for regret. Mr. and Mrs. Wood will return to their place at Lake Macquarie. [11]

The publican's licence and the billiard licence for the Ship Inn was transferred from Granville A. Wood to George Hudson in January 1888, however by July 1888 the Newcastle Herald reported that the old Ship Inn, which for so many years has been a landmark in Newcastle, is about to undergo renovation and alterations, having been purchased for an office by the directors of the Union Bank. Mr. J. R. Rodgers, the contractor, had already started the alterations and improvements. [12]


[1] New South Wales, Australia, Colonial Secretary's Papers, 1788-1825 Series: (NRS 898) Special bundles, 1794-1825 Item: 9/2652 Page: 75

[2] Sydney Gazette 29 December 1829

[3] State Archives NSW; Series: 14401; Item: [4/74]; Reel: 5057. Source Information: New South Wales, Australia, Certificates for Publicans' licences, 1830-1849

[4] State Archives NSW; Series: 14401; Item: [4/76-77]; Reel: 5059 New South Wales, Australia, Certificates for Publicans' licences, 1830-1849, 1853-1899

[5] Maitland Mercury 13 January 1844

[6] Maitland Mercury 12 December 1846

[7] The Voice of the North 10 August 1931 (W.J. Gould, The Pioneers)

[8] Newcastle Chronicle 17 December 1870

[9] Newcastle Morning Herald 28 January 1880

[10] Newcastle Morning Herald 3 June 1887

[11] Newcastle Morning Herald 20 January 1888

[12] Newcastle Morning Herald 11 July 1888