Cricketers’ Arms Hotel

Cricketers’ Arms Hotel

The Crickeers Arms Hotel was located on the south-eastern corner of Crown and Corrimal Streets, Wollongong.  The hotel was named after three local cricketers - John Patrick Galvin, Thomas Galvin and James Rixon.  The image above was taken during the time (1878-1880) that J P Galvin was licencee as his name is above the door as the proprietor.

Licencees

  • James Rixon (8 Dec 1859-1861)
  • George Organ (1861-1876)
  • William Simpson (1876- 1 Apr 1876)
  • John Galvin 91 Apr 1876 - 3 Mar 1881)
  • William Bowman Cheadle (3 Mar 1881-8 Sep 1884)
  • Edward B Bendon (8 Sep 1884-16 May 1885)
  • John Roxby (16 May 1884-20 Apr 1886)
  • Peter Roxby (20 Apr 1886-20 Jun 1895)
  • James A Scott (1895)
  • Edward Flannery (1895- 28 Nov 1896
  • Charles N Hannaford (28 Nov 1896 -14 Aug 1905)
  • William Stewart (1905)
  • Peter Thomas  Manning (Apr 1906-21 Mar 1910)

The licence was reviewed on 19 March 1908 at a sitting of the Local Options Hearing before Judge Fitzhardinge who decided that it should terminate two years from 21 March 1908.  Several other local hotel licences were also terminated as part of a campaign to reduce the number of hotel licences throughout NSW.  After the hotel ceased trading, the building was used as a boarding house and other commercial activities.  It was boarded up and empty for some years prior to demolition in 1943.

Landlords

On 1 November 1858, George Organ (28 Jun 1812 – 12 Dec 1889) purchased an allotment on the corner of Crown and Corrimal Streets on which he built the Cricketers’ Arms Hotel.  [source: Organ, MK and Hardy, R, Pioneers of the Illawarra - a history of the family of Elias Organ in Wollongong, 1839-1869, University of Wollongong Printery, 1984, 128p.] The first licencee was his son-in-law, James Rixon (1832-1892) who married Emily Organ. George Organ retained ownership of the property but leased it to various licencees. On his death, the property passed to his wife, Maria Morgan (1813-1898) and on her death, it passed to their daughter, Emily. 

George Organ was an astute businessman and building contractor who acquired land at Bulli as well as allotments in Wollongong.  His wife,Maria, donated the land for the Bulli Hospital.  

Emily Organ was born 20 June 1835 in Gloucestershire and emigrated with her parents and brother, William Henry (1834-1899) on the Bussorah Merchant which arrived in Sydney on 3 September 1839. She married James Rixon on on 10 March 1853 at Wollongong. Rixon was a building contractor and worked initially with his father-in-law.  He helped build the railway from Mt Keira mine as well as bridges throughout the district.  James and Emily later moved to Murrurundi and Quirindi districts where he contracted building bridges and other infrastructure.  James died at Murrurundi in 1912 while visiting his son who ran the Murrurundi Times.

Emily married John Williams at Gulgong in 1914.  They lived in Campbell Street, Woonona and Emily owned land around Bulli Hospital, in Farrell Road Bulli and elsewhere.  She died on 17 September 1918 aged 83 at Woonona.  'The Cricketers’ Arms premises, Lower Crown-street, were offered for auction on Wednesday by F Bevan and Son. The bidding, however, did not reach the reserve.' [Illawarra Mercury 13 Jun 1919]  The premises went to auction again in February 1922. [Illawarra Mercury 10 Feb 1922].  At this time, or prior to the demolition of the building, the site was purchased by William Dwyer and Sons to expand their neighbouring car yard business.

AN OLD LANDMARK. In Course of Demolition

The demolition of the old premises at the corner of Crown and Corrimal-sts., Wollongong, known as the Cricketers' Arms Hotel, removes a landmark in the history of the town and will recall many memories to old residents.  In a letter to a Wollongong friend, Mr. Tom Rixon, stated that the building was erected over a hundred years ago.  The premises were conducted, by Mr. James Rixon about the year 1850, and he gave them the name of The Cricketers' Arms.  Mr. James Rixon with the late Messrs. Jack and Tom Galvin were three prominent cricketers of the day.  

James Rixon was the. son of Benjamin Rixon, and was one of triplets born on the Hawkesbury River in 1806.  It is believed that these were the first set of white triplets born in Australia.  Benjamin Rixon was presented with a purse of 100 sovereigns in Wollongong over 100 years ago.  James Rixon did not conduct the hotel for any lengthy period and he was succeeded by his wife's father, the late Mr. Geo. Organ.  The latter was 'mine host' for some 14 years.  He had come to the Wollongong district from England about the year 1835.

Benjamin Rixon gained a reputation as a tracker and was responsible for saving many lives.  On one occasion, he discovered a man named Charles Quinn who was lost for ten days in the wild country between Bulli Pass and Appin.  Rixon's Pass, Woonona, was named after Benjamin Rixon.  Five members of the late Jas. Rixon's family are still living, their average age being 76 years.  Two of them reached, the ripe age of 84 years.  These interesting facts concerning the Rixon family have caused us to transgress from our original intention of writing something regarding 'The Cricketers' Arms.'

A resident of Wollongong of long standing informs us that he first knew the hotel when it was conducted by the late Mr. J. P. Galvin, who later purchased the Brighton Hotel, situated near the harbour, and which was demolished several years ago.  Mr. Galvin was followed by the late Mr. Cheadle and was married to a daughter of the late Mr. Phillip Mackel, then postmaster in the town.  

Mr. Roxby succeeded Mr. Cheadle and, according to our informant, it was during his occupancy that the hotel experienced its busiest time.  Mr. Roxby was a great sporting man, and every Saturday, especially pay Saturdays, as the town at that time depended almost entirely on the mines, there were two alleys for playing hard ball and quoit pitches were also available.  On the 'Green,' now the showground, many a match was played of Yorkshire bowls. This game was different from that played on the bowling greens.  The idea was to see who could bowl a stone ball, a little bigger than a cricket ball, the greatest distance.  At this time there were nearly always racehorses in the hotel stables.  

Mr. Roxby was followed in quick succession by Mr. Burke and Mr. Charles Hannaford.  The latter occupied the premises for many years.  He conducted them in an up-to-date manner and gained a reputation in that direction.  He was also a keen sporting man, and the hotel was well patronised by the sporting men of the town.  On one occasion there was a serious fire in the stables and some horses, amongst them two valuable racehorses, were destroyed.  Some of the horses were owned by a Mr. Suma.  Mr. P. Manning succeeded Mr. Hannaford; and he, in turn, by Mr. Stewart.  While the latter was the licensee the premises were closed down by the Licenses Reduction Board.  Since then they have been used as a boarding establishment.

(Illawarra Mercury 10 December 1943 p6)

 

The demolition of the Cricketers’ Arms was undertaken to allow the expansion of the motor dealers, W Dwyer and Co.  The Dwyer family began as a coachbuilding business in the 1880s from a workshop on Crown Street east of Corrimal Street. As cars became more popular, the company built car and truck bodies on pre-assembled chassis.  Over time, the company became a major retailer of motor vehicles and operated a petrol station in Crown Street adjacent to the workshop.  Members of the family also operated car-related businesses elsewhere in Wollongong.  In order to allow the business to expand and to bring together the various sections, the family began purchasing the land around their workshop and show room.

The excavation of the Crown and Corrimal Streets corner by Biosis revealed foundations of the Cricketers’ Arms Hotel including the sandstone cellar.  Other remains on the site included the foundations of residential dwellings at the rear and side of the hotel, a substantial brick lined well and pits used as toilets.  These remains are testimony of life before piped water and sewerage became available in the 1920s.

The excavation also uncovered a wealth of artefacts including bottles, coins, pipes and household refuse which provide evidence of social and economic evidence of life when the site was occupied prior to 1943.  In many ways, it is fortunate that the site was used by Dwyers for so long as a car display yard.  This left the old foundations undisturbed.  It is fortunate also that the multi-storey residential development of the site will not need to destroy the archaeological remains.  They have been filled in and await rediscovery in the future.

John Shipp

22 April 2015

Cricketers' Arms Hotel foundations 2015 Cellar of former Cricketers' Arms Hotel excavated by Biosis archaeologists