Free Settler or Felon
Convict and Colonial History

The Miners' Arms


An article in the Sydney Morning Herald on 5 September 1947 states - The oldest building still standing in Newcastle is Northumberland House in Morgan Street near the Strand Theatre. It is one of the taverns of old Newcastle and has been inhabited for 120 years. In 1827 portion of the present building was an inn known as the Crooked Billet, afterwards known as the Miners' Arms. Later it was used as a temporary Customs house but reverted late in the sixties of last century to its original role, being known then as the Shipwrights' Arms. After the 1870s it was called the London Tavern and bore that name until early in the present century.

According to an article written in 1947 by W. J. Goold, president of the Newcastle Historical Society, the Crooked Billet in Market Square was licensed under the sign of the Miners' Arms in William Page 's time as publican. William Page was granted a publican's license in June 1844 [1] The licence was transferred to James Farquharson in March 1845 [2]

James Farquharson

In December 1845 the Inn was the scene of a scuffle that was to result in one of the town's constables - Constable Rinker being arrested for perjury. Rinker had stated in Court that he had been assaulted at the Inn by William Hudson and Thomas Smith, who was the Landlord of the Inn kept by James Farquharson. Those who were present (Farquharson, Hudson, Smith, Rainsford, Simpson and others) when the altercation took place charged Rinker with perjury and he was taken into custody, although late admitted to bail. [3]

James Farquharson was granted a licence for the Miner's Arms again in 1846 and 1847. In 1848 the hotel was referred to as Farquharson's hotel.

William Page

In November 1848 when the Inn was offered for sale William Page was once again proprietor. The Miners' Arms Inn was described at the time as being situated in the very centre of the most preferable part of the city for business and admirably adapted for an inn, store, or residence being in the main thoroughfare and proximate to all the public buildings and wharfs. The city of Newcastle is progressing rapidly, and indeed such is its prosperity, that the lucky purchaser may safely depend upon realising a handsome fortune in a very few years.

For sale was : 'All that allotment of land in Newcastle No. 100 of section, on which is erected all that spacious brick built house known as the Miners Arms Inn, containing seven rooms on the ground floor, two rooms up stairs large cellars, detached kitchen, stables, coach house, and many other conveniences. Bounded on the east by 92 links on the west side of Newcomen street bearing south 7 degrees west on the south by a line dividing it from allotment no 99 bearing west 7 degrees north 1 chain and 95 links; on the west by 92 links of the east boundary line of the market place bearing north 7 degrees east on the north by a line dividing it from allotments No 102 and 101 bearing east 76 degrees south 1 chain and 95 links to Newcomen Street [4].

The Inn sold together with the 'Stockton Arms' for £520 in 1848 Mrs. Page was still the landlady in June 1849 [5]

Coach Service

A daily Coach service run by Samuel Smith of Maitland departed from the Miners Arms in the 1840s and 1850s.

Charles Bolton - Custom House

The building was used as a Customs House under the control of Major Charles Bolton who owned the premises. Major Bolton had under him a clerk by the name of Henry Parkes, who later became Premier of New South Wales.[6]

John Petersen - Shipwrights' Arms

The building reverted to its original role, that of an Inn in the 1860's, under the sign of the Shipwrights' Arms, the license being held by Peter Smith in 1866 - 1869 [7]

Peter Smith died in March 1869 [8]

His wife carried on with the business however re-married to John Petersen 1869 - 1870. After a mis-understanding about conditions of lease, Charles Bolton as owner of the premises later charged the Petersens with failing to quit possession of the premises, which they were later forced to do by law. [9]

In August 1870 John Petersen transferred his licence for the Shipwrights' Arms in the Market Square to a new building on the corner of Market and Hunter Streets. [10] Samuel Somerville was publican when this building (the new Shipwrights' Arms) was destroyed by fire in 1884 - Sydney Mail 9 February 1884

In 1880 Petersen took up the license for the Market Wharf Inn. [11]

James Timmony - London Tavern

James Timmony re-opened the old Shipwrights Arms premises under the sign of the London Tavern in October 1870 as a family hotel. It had been thoroughly renovated and fitted up in every department. Patrons could find good and clean beds and a good table at moderate charges; there was a stable on the premises.[12]

The London Tavern was de-licenced and conducted as a boarding house known as Northumberland House. The building was still standing in 1947 however plans were underway to build a three storey hostel for Catholic Women. [10]


[1] Maitland Mercury 22 June 1844

[2] Maitland Mercury 15 March 1845

[3] Maitland Mercury 27 December 1845

[4] Maitland Mercury 25 November 1848

[5] Maitland Mercury 2 June 1849

[6] The Newcastle Sun 9 July 1946

[7] Newcastle Chronicle 1 December 1866

[8] Newcastle Chronicle 16 March 1869

[9] Newcastle Chronicle 23 July 1870

[10] Newcastle Chronicle 11 August 1870

[11] Newcastle Morning Herald 20 October 1880

[12] Newcastle Chronicle 11 October 1870

[13] SR NSW Archive Reel: 1583; Series: 12992; Description: Registers of Memorials for Land 1825-1842