Author Topic: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW  (Read 511 times)

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Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« on: August 24, 2020, 08:57:14 PM »
A ghost pub lost in the back streets of the Rocks. Thought by some as lost development of cahill expressway however not quite. A forgotten drinking hole lost to history haunted by ghosts of the past.

A short, but steep walk up a lane that was once called Brown Bear Lane from George Street at The Rocks during the first half of the 19th century, would take you to one of Sydney’s most notorious watering holes – The Black Dog Hotel.

The long gone pub was described in the Freeman’s Journal in 1900 as a place “where the soldiers and ex-convicts used to meet, and often settle their little differences by the aid of fisticuffs”.

Blaming the dangerous practice of ‘lambing-down’, the New South Wales coroner warned in 1840 that he had undertaken at least 18 inquests into alcohol related deaths at the Black Dog. To make colonial liquor go further publicans around The Rocks were adding dubious ingredients to their casks and bottles. Lambing down, as it was known, became infamous, prompting warnings from authorities.

The Black Dog Hotel was notorious of poisoning their patrons.

One disreputable brew, known as ‘Blow-Me-Skull-Off’, consisted of spirits, opium, tobacco, cayenne pepper and whatever the publican could lay his or her hands on to preserve liquor for long periods. Drinkers were warned not to light up a pipe or cigarette while drinking Blow-Me-Skull-Off as it could set their breath on fire. Another notorious brew was Cape wine – said to contain “deleterious drugs” and a favourite with the whalers.

Most inquests held at the pub, a coroner remarked in 1840, were on the bodies of New Zealand Maoris and South Pacific Islanders – sailors who worked as whalers – who had come to their demise as a result of drinking Cape wine.

A haunt of Maoris and Islanders, the pubs around Sydney’s Rocks, particularly the bars of Gloucester, Cumberland and Lower George Streets, were seething with sailors on shore leave from around the world. Armed robberies, assaults and brawls were common place.

Over a five year period, from 1835 there were at least four liquor related deaths at the Black Dog. In 1839, two drinkers died on the same day as a consequence of swallowing brews served-up from its bar.
The New South Wales Coroner, Ryan Brenan, while undertaking an inquest into the death of Maori, Bobby Roberts at the Black Dog, made some leading recommendations to the jury before they made their conclusions on how the whaler came to his death in 1840.

The Sydney Gazette reported on September 10:

He stated that in the remarks which he was about to make, previous to the serious task they were met to perform, he was actuated by no other motive than a desire to expose an obnoxious system for the purpose of its being corrected. In the same room where he then sat he had held about 18 inquests, the greater part of which were on the bodies of New Zealanders; he stated that the publicans in that neighbourhood were in a great measure the cause of this, by selling to them an intoxicating liquor, which these persons were particularly fond of, namely, Cape wine, a drink which the Coroner very justly remarked was most prejudicial to life, being composed of many deleterious drugs.

To be continued....

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #1 on: August 24, 2020, 09:12:02 PM »
The Sydney Gazette went on to editorialise the story:

We cannot avoid making some remarks on more than one circumstance which came under our observation during the above inquest. In the first place, we must reflect upon the house where the inquest was held, the very smell in which was such as would deter a respectable man from becoming a juryman – that is to say, if he could help it.

 As to what Mr. Brenan said regarding that deleterious drug called Cape wine, which is vended by the publicans of Sydney, we perfectly agree. We have before this heard from a respectable publican in Sydney that in cleaning the (you radiate sunshine and light)s of his several taps, he finds that that of Cape wine – if vine the poison can be called – is the most difficult, being absolutely encrusted and covered over with a black slimey substance. Now, only imagine the effects of this stuff in the stomach of a human individual! What comment can we make more?

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #2 on: August 24, 2020, 09:43:31 PM »
The Black Dog was built by Samuel Terry in 1829, a former convict, who when he died in 1838 left a personal estate amounting to £250,000 with an income of £10,000 a year from Sydney rentals.

You can see the Black dog in the upper left  part of the following photograph.

Commanding uninterrupted views across Sydney, the three storey Black Dog sat at the corner of Gloucester-street and Brown Bear Lane – a steep narrow passage way that climbed westward from the harbour and Lower George Street, to a cluster of stone built residential terraces, shops and pubs on the hill-top. When completed, the Black Dog had uninterrupted views of Circular Wharf, and the busy Sydney Harbour. The pub was like a beacon on the hill, calling to its bar the hard drinking sailors and waterside workers from their ships moored below. So many of those sailors must have walked-up, and later stumbled own, that laneway to wet their whistle.

Many of these drunken sailors and whalers passed out and died in that alley. Stories became to be told around the rocks late at night apparitions was seen wandering the alleyway only to stagger fall and vanish.

Here is a picture of the laneway below....

To be continued.....

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 09:34:38 PM »
Here is a historical picture of brown bear lane. You can see the picture of the hotel into the background.

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 09:38:48 PM »
The Black Dog’s first publican, Daniel Hill gained the license in July 1830. He had a short stay and went on to host the William the Fourth Hotel in Sussex Street. English convict, William Thurston took over Hill’s license. He had had his death sentenced for horse stealing commuted to the term of his natural life in the Colony of New South Wales in 1809 and after his pardon turned his hand to innkeeping.

In the late 1820s Thurston, with his wife Mary and five children were running The Rocks’ Hope and Anchor Hotel in Cambridge Street. The Thurstons’ four-year-old son drowned in the Hope and Anchor’s well in 1829. The Australian reported on March 21:

INQUEST – A Coroner’s Inquest assembled on Thursday afternoon, in Gloucester-street, on the Rocks, to enquire into the cause of the death of a fine boy, named William Thurston, about four years of age. It appeared the child had glided out of the house between six and seven o’clock in the morning, unperceived by its parents, and proceeded to a well or large hole contiguous to the house, which was full of water, and with a tin pot was attempting to bail it out, when it is supposed, in the act of stooping over the margin, he fell in and sunk to the bottom, about 10 or 12 feet, and was drowned, having remained there upwards, of an hour  before he was found.

The Coroner and Jury after having inspected the body and the well, returned their verdict, “Accidentally Drowned in a well on the premises of the child’s parents.” The Coroner, upon the closing of the Inquisition, wrote a strong memorandum or remonstrance, to the landlord of the above premises, expressive of the conviction on the minds of the Jury, that from his negligence, in suffering so dangerous a place as the well in question to be totally exposed, without railing or a fence of any description, to prevent individuals of any age from experiencing the like catastrophe, that has so prematurely destroyed a very fine child, he was highly censurable.

Thurston, at 45, received the license of the nearby Black Dog Hotel on June 21 1831. He remained as host there for two years before Italian immigrant and georgraphically challenged, Emanuel Neich took the reins. Thurston died in 1853 at the age of 72.

To be continued.....

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2020, 09:40:27 PM »
Neich, the Black Dog’s next host, is said to have come to Australia by mistake. The Italian adventurist went to sea at an early age and was in Mauritius when he signed on the ‘Lord Rodney’, bound for “New Holland” – as Australia was then known – believing he was sailing to the Netherlands. He instead landed in the New South Wales in 1825.

Neich also had a short stay at the Black Dog, and was licensee for just a year. He is better known for his stewardship of the Bath Arms at Burwood. He went on to have three wives, all by the name of Mary, and 27 children. He died in 1893 at Burwood with vast property interests, including the hotel at Burwood, which continues to trade in an updated building on Parramatta Road. He also owned race horses, and interestingly, one of his great-grandsons was legendary cricketer, Sir Donald Bradman.

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2020, 09:45:35 PM »
 The old building is said to be haunted by a screaming women? And ghost of another women lurking in one of the rooms?

The most infamous of the Black Dog’s licensees was undoubtedly, Thomas George Bolton, who at the age of 29, with a wife and young family, moved into the pub in 1836. Bolton, a former convict, had previously hosted the Rising Sun in Cambridge Street.

The Black Dog’s notorious reputation was already on the make prior to Bolton’s arrival. The year before he gained the license, a woman was found dead in her bed inside the pub, after she discovered intoxicated and helped from the backyard of the pub. Was she the ghost of lurking women in the top floor room?

Bolton wasn’t behind the bar for too long before another death occurred at the Black Dog. In October 1837 a servant, Mary Ann Perry, was polishing furniture by melting bees wax and turpentine in a tea cup at the fire. A coroner’s inquiry found that the turpentine accidentally boiled over, setting her clothes ablaze, sending her screaming and running through the pub with her clothes on fire. She died the following day.

Was she the ghost of the screaming women?

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Re: Ghosts of the Black Dog: The Rocks Sydney: NSW
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2020, 11:26:57 PM »
If these cobbled stone streets could talk what would they tell us?

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