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August 15, 2016

Wonder of the west

There’s a forgotten heritage sitting at Number One, North Terrace. Before it moves into the future with a big new development, CityMag decided to dig into The Newmarket Hotel’s history.

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  • Words: Johnny von Einem
  • Picture 1 & 3: Ben McPherson
  • Picture 2 and below: Brendan Homan

Since being built in 1847, The Newmarket Hotel has proudly greeted Port Road traffic from its perch on the corner of North and West Terraces.

While most city punters probably know the building as the pub attached to the HQ Complex, the site has much more cultural significance than the drab grey building suckled to its side suggests.

A decade before The Newmarket laid its foundations (and a good century and a half before those foundations became soaked in drunkenly spilt vodka lemon lime) Colonel William Light began his survey of Adelaide from the plot, naming it Town Acre One.

From that vantage point the Colonel laid out the 1042 town acres that would become North Adelaide and the CBD.

Once The Newmarket was established, it quickly became a favourite of abattoir workers employed at the market across the road, and it’s said (and hotly contested) that the meat processing crew would sidle up to the bar on their lunch breaks and request a very particular measurement of beer that fit their smoko timeframe.

The 140ml pony didn’t quite sate their thirst, whereas the 285ml schooner was apparently a mouthful too far, and so a mid-sized 200ml glass was born and dubbed a butcher.

 “It really reflects that particular period of South Australian history.” – Jim Williams

We have, however, been warned to take this story with a slice of grain-fed salt beef.

The next individual of prominent significance to grace Town Acre One was Albert Augustine (Bert) Edwards, who was an MP and the hotel’s publican from 1924 to 1931.

According to author Patricia Sumerling, who is currently compiling a biography on the man, he was a well-known philanthropist who “would go around the markets and collect all the leftover food and delve it out to the poor in the West End”.

His reign as The Newmarket’s publican ended abruptly, however, due to his arrest and subsequent conviction on the enigmatic and salacious charge of committing an “unnatural act”.

Bert served two and a half years of his five-year term and once released continued his philanthropic services to the Adelaide community, right up until his death in 1963.

Generations later, the nightclub scene would descend upon The Newmarket Hotel, and the shape and scope of the building has never quite been the same.

The ornate frontage still exists, but the beauty of the building is somewhat tempered by having two of its boundaries obscured.

But with the HQ tenancy finishing up late January 2017, the future of The Newmarket Hotel is one of transformation.

Ahead of the new hospital’s arrival over the road, a development has been approved for Town Acre One, and according to the designers at GHD Woodhead, The Newmarket Hotel will be returning to its roots.

“We’ll probably be taking away some of the inappropriate stuff that’s been added to it,” says senior principal architect Jim Williams. “And bringing it back to what it was, then refurbishing the facades, and probably a new, more appropriate fit out for any dining and bar facilities in there.”

“When [The Newmarket Hotel] was built, everyone was thinking the state was really expanding and growing, and it was a good economy, so they spent a lot on the facades, and that was probably an expensive building for its time.

“So it really reflects that particular period of South Australian history, [and] that’s really important to reinforce.”

The proposed plans suggest The Newmarket Hotel will be skirted on its eastern and southern sides by a laneway that will separate it from the rest of the development, exposing its now-hidden borders.

Next door to the hotel, fronting West Terrace, a three-storey podium will sit, containing a high-end food hall, two levels of underground parking, and a floor reserved potentially for medical offices. Behind, set slightly back, two 23-level apartment towers, with a total of 401 residential apartments, will make up the rest of the development.

“These two towers will be the bookends to the Terraces, and leaving the heritage building there on the corner, as the corner marker – as it’s always been,” Jim says.

And so The Newmarket Hotel lives on, ever the cornerstone of the West End.


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