Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Pubs of Balmain

Some of the feedback I've received from the readers of our Balmain blog is that people would like to know more about some of the pubs in Balmain. So, come next year, I'll be writting a number of pieces introducing you to some of the local watering holes and their history. The Balmain Association's book "Called to the Bar" will be providing me with much of the information and I'd recommend anyone who is interested in this subject, to pop down to Brays Books on Darling St Balmain and pick up a copy.

The first pub I'd like to talk about is the Marquis of Waterford, Balmain or better known as the Waterford Arms Hotel, Balmain. No longer a working pub (now a private residence) the wide sandstone building was built in 1841. Located at number 50 Darling Street, Balmain East, the Waterford Arms was originally called "Cathemore" (Fort on the Hill) and was Balmain's first bakery, the original open wood fire oven still exists.
In 1846, four years after the first pub in Balmain (the Balmain Hotel) opened, an eccentric man named Charles James Bullivant who converted the building into a licensed pub. Bullivant, a former army officer, had been discharged from service for drawing an unflattering caricature of Governor Macquarie on the wall of the guardroom. He was said to be obsessed with his own death and, from a young age, had his own coffin made up and carried it around with him. When he did eventually pass at an elderly age, he left instructions for his son to bury him in an unconsecrated tomb in his backyard with the inscription "The first day of darkness, the last of danger and distress."

The Waterford Arms, Balmain was fourth oldest pub in Balmain and was only a licensed premises for 5 years before Bullivant sold the property to Joshua Frey Josephson who then sold it to Balmain's first mayor, John Booth in 1969. The property has remained a private residence ever since but in it's heyday it would have been a lively place to be. The trams stopped in front of the pub while next door Oddfellows Community Hall would have been a scene of much debate and merry-making!

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