Stoker’s Hotel

Hotels were a significant part of early coal mining townships. Apart from their obvious aspect of a place to consume liquor, hotels provided facilities for visitor accommodation, stabling of horses, a venue for travelling salesmen to hawk their wares, a space for social gatherings, political meetings, and much more.

In 1865 John Stoker arrived in Lambton from the NSW goldfields and opened the “Gold Miners’ Arms” hotel, on the north east corner of Elder and Grainger Streets. As well as being one of the first hotels in Lambton, it attained significance in the community due to a substantial addition made in 1869 and reported in the paper

“Mr. Stoker himself is going to extend his premises by building an assembly room sufficiently large to contain 500 people. Such an edifice is very much wanted here, as there is not at present any place in the township (chapels excepted) able to contain 150 persons.”

The new large upstairs hall was used regularly for public meetings of all kinds, such as the nominations for the first council election in 1871, and a coronial inquest into the death of two men at Lambton colliery in 1878.  The hall was variously known as “Stoker’s Hall”, “Stoker’s Long Room”, and eventually as “Druids Hall” because the United Ancient Order of Druids used it as their regular meeting place.

In 1871 John Stoker changed the hotel’s name to the “Gold Miners’ Home”, a largely irrelevant change, for such was the association between pub and publican that everyone referred to the place as “Stoker’s Hotel” even years after Stoker ceased to run the hotel in 1885.

There were a dozen different licensees over the next 30 years including Stoker’s son Edward for a short time. The final licensee, George Malbon, took over in 1915 and changed the name to the “Central Hotel”. Malbon operated the hotel until 1921 when it was closed by the Licences Reduction Board, and the building was subsequently demolished in 1926.

Stoker’s Hotel 1884-1885. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

Stoker’s Hotel 1884-1885. Photo by Ralph Snowball. University of Newcastle, Cultural Collections.

The photo above is not dated in the University of Newcastle Cultural Collections site, but is probably in the period 1884 to 1885, as Ralph Snowball only started his photographic career in 1884, and John Stoker ceased to be the licensee in 1885.

The site of Stoker’s Hotel in 2016, north east corner of Elder and Grainger Streets.

The site of Stoker’s Hotel in 2016, north east corner of Elder and Grainger Streets.


The article above was first published in the November 2016 edition of the Lambton Local.

Additional information

Newspaper articles

Article Date Event DateNotes
30 Dec 1865First newspaper reference to the Gold Miners' Arms hotel - "On application a license for bagatelle, was granted to John Stoker, landlord of the Gold Miners' Arms, Lambton."
20 Mar 1869First newspaper reference to "Stoker's Hotel"
15 Jun 1869"Mr. Stoker himself is going to extend his premises by building an assembly room sufficiently large to contain 500 people. Such an edifice is very much wanted here, as there is not at present any place in the township (chapels excepted,) able to contain 150 persons."
17 Jul 1869 Mr. Stoker, of the Gold miner's Hotel, is about commencing a large concert-room, forty by twenty-four feet, to be fitted up with a stage, and other necessaries
27 Nov 1869First newspaper reference to the "Druids' Hall".
24 Jun 1871First newspaper reference to the "Gold Miners' Home" hotel. "TO LET in the rising township of Lambton, a Shop and Dwelling-house, with stabling, opposite the Gold Miners' Home. Apply to JOSEPH HUNTER on the premises."
1 Jul 1871First newspaper reference to "Stoker's long room".
18 Jul 1871
15 Jul 1871
Public meeting held in Mr. Stoker's long room, to nominate people for election to the first Lambton Council.
9 Dec 1873First newspaper reference to "Stoker's Hall".
5 May 1875Adding five extra bedrooms for accommodation.
10 Oct 1878Coronial inquest held at Stoker's Hotel into the death of Thomas Syemour and Robert Brown in Lambton Colliery's Mosquito Pit.
27 Nov 1885
25 Nov 1885
The license of the Gold Miners' Home Hotel, Lambton, transferred from John Stoker to William Ralph.
10 Dec 1903The "Gold Miners' Home" hotel is still referred to as "Stoker's Hotel" even 18 years after John Stoker ceased to be the licensee in 1885.
8 Oct 1907
6 Oct 1907
Death of John Stoker, aged 75.
3 Jul 1914License was transferred from Charles Nelson to George Malbon.
21 Jan 1916G. Malbon changes the name of the hotel from "Gold Miners' Home Hotel" to the "Central Hotel".
24 Jun 1916Reduction in licensing fee for the Central Hotel.
17 Jan 1921Central Hotel up before the Licenses Reduction Board.
20 May 1921Central Hotel to be delicensed and compensation paid - £1100 to owner, £360 licensee; total, £1460.
28 Sep 1921
26 Sep 1921
George Malbar [Malbon], the former licensee of the Central Hotel dies aged 63.
10 May 1926Gold Miners' Arms hotel demolished.

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