Lucky Country Hotel

Lucky Country Hotel ~ 237 Hunter Street.

On the corner of Crown and Hunter Streets stands an ornate building of generous proportion that typifies mid 20th-century Newcastle. The façade fortunately and happily continues to lend character to this spacious portion of the east end.

Above: The Lucky Couontry Hotel at 237 Hunter St, Newcastle, NSW in June 2009.

Time Gents, the Australian Pub Project, relates a detailed history, garnered from a 1935 Newcastle Herald:

The Bank Hotel formerly stood in Hunter Street on the site now occupied by the Oxford Hotel… It is uncertain when the name of the hotel was changed to the Oxford Hotel, but many residents will recollect the remodelling of the building, which freehold was recently disposed of to Tooth and Company Ltd. Today, imposing buildings occupy the site which 90 years ago was a barren waste.

The Bank Hotel was built on the site in 1860 and demolished in 1877. One Jesse Ireland built the Oxford Hotel in 1880. When Tooth & Company sold their Newcastle brewery in 1977 the name was changed to the Lucky Country Hotel.

Above: Oxford Hotel building that co-hosted several shops, including MRs P.K. Penney, milliners, A. Bakers, J. Ireland's grovers, and a shop owned by J. M. Galley. Image ~  UoN Cultural Collections

NSW Office of Environment and Heritage describes the site as:

Site occupied by J. Ireland, significant Produce Merchants – 1870-1920. Important townscape element due to configuration of site and exposure to railway and Hunter Streets. The interiors of the three storey rendered brick building are of significance.

Above: Lucky Country Hotel from Crown Street, towards Hunter Street, in 2009. There's a heavy-rail tram in the background.

A lad named Jon told GDayPubs that

Hotel established c1925 as the Oxford Hotel, renamed the Tower Tavern c 1977 and The Lucky Country Hotel c1980’s? The hotel was due to close in mid November but the Police closed the hotel on 30th October fearing a repetition of Star Hotel riot when that hotel was closed. – Jon

Throsby cannot verify any of this recent history even though he was at work the night of the Star Hotel riot and followed it on the news. You see, Throsby is not one for the pubs. Alcohol just makes him giddy, not drunk.

In February 2009, Newcastle Council approved the demolition of the former Lucky Country Hotel and the site’s redevelopment.

The current building will be replaced by a four-storey hotel comprising 50 accommodation rooms, a restaurant, bars, open courtyard and gaming area. The historic facade will be retained and incorporated into the $6 million redevelopment. Newcastle Lord Mayor John Tate says he is pleased to see the developer investing in the inner-city, despite the economic climate.

In Crown Street, June 2009, this lengthy artwork…

Click on the image below to open an interactive panorama. Use mouse or swipe gestures to zoom or pan.

Come April 2011, as artist Trevor Dickinson (of beach tunnels fame) was busily brushing a Newcastle Ocean Baths mural on the Hunter Street boardings, developer Jeff McCloy announced plans to build yet another pub on the venerable site.

Above: Trevor Dickinson works on the Lucky Country mural on 22 April 2011. Photo by Siobhan Curran.

The original façade would survive and enclose two levels as a hotel with 15 rooms on the 3rd level for accommodation. Work completed in 2014, retaining interior brickwork and iron beams, with a courtyard sporting a retractable translucent polycarbonate roof. For those with an insatiable appetite for construction detail, [edit: broken link ] Everbright Roofing Systems describes the project with views of inside the courtyard, where preserved brickwork and iron beams are shown.

Courtyard with clear roofing on original steel girders and bickwork. Image by  Everbright Roofing Systems

The Lucky Hotel was open for business, this time with 29 rooms of accommodation.

Below, street art along Crown Street in 2009

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