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.
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 article above was first published in the November 2016 edition of the Lambton Local.
- The section on the Gold Miners’ Arms Hotel in my Lambton Hotels page, including a full list of licensees.
- Blog entry on Stoker’s Hotel (May 2016)
- Gravesite of John Stoker in Sandgate cemetery
- Gravesite of Edward John Stoker in Sandgate cemetery
Les Evans, having done family history research into the Stoker family, suggests that Snowball’s photo shows John and Mary Stoker, seven children, a daughter-in-law and grandchild, left to right …
- Jane Ann or Hannah
- Hannah or Jane Ann
- Edward John
- Mary Eliza (daughter)
- John Stoker
- Mary Eliza (wife)
- Thomas’ child
- Thomas’ wife
|Article Date Event Date||Notes|
|30 Dec 1865||First 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 1869||First 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 1869||First newspaper reference to the "Druids' Hall".|
|24 Jun 1871||First 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 1871||First 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 1873||First newspaper reference to "Stoker's Hall".|
|5 May 1875||Adding five extra bedrooms for accommodation.|
|10 Oct 1878||Coronial 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 1903||The "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 1914||License was transferred from Charles Nelson to George Malbon.|
|21 Jan 1916||G. Malbon changes the name of the hotel from "Gold Miners' Home Hotel" to the "Central Hotel".|
|24 Jun 1916||Reduction in licensing fee for the Central Hotel.|
|17 Jan 1921||Central Hotel up before the Licenses Reduction Board.|
|18 Jan 1921||At the license renewal hearing "Sergeant Harrison stated the building was composed of weatherboards, very old, but in a fair state of repair. Of the seven bedrooms, four were for the public use. Practically no catering was done for travellers."|
|20 May 1921||Central 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 1926||Gold Miners' Arms hotel demolished.|
Congratulations on your research and website on the hotels in Lambton; it makes my attempt at tracing my family via Scope and BDM look very shallow and inadequate.
Without any evidence I have claimed for my “history” the couple with child in Snowball’s photo of the Stoker family as William, Mary Anne and Frederick Ralph. I would appreciate any confirmation or repudiation of this.
Being from the West with no knowledge of Newcastle/Lambton I have found your website extremely interesting.
Regards, Ian Ralph
I can neither confirm or repudiate your theory. Identifying the subjects in old photos is almost impossible unless the photographer recorded details that have been preserved.
Further research indicates William Baker held the Licence to the Gold Miners Hotel in 1892, and maybe from 1890 when William Ralph died. Mary Ann Ralph in 1891 was granted the Licence for what had been the Albion and she changed its name to Ralph’s Family Hotel .
Eliza Abell was granted the Licence of Ralph’s Family Hotel (not Stokers) in 1895 and then granted 6 months absence from the hotel to go to WA in 1896.
I’m a bit late on this thread.
I believe you will find Elijah Abell who took on the licence of the Ralph’s family hotel in 1895 and 1896. Elijah also sat on the Wallsend council.
The license of the “Ralph’s Family Hotel”, in Watt St Newcastle was held by Elijah Abell from 1895 to January 1899.
Elijah nominated for Wallsend council in 1884 and was appointed an alderman without an election, as there were only three nominees for the three vacancies. He was then elected unopposed as Mayor at the council meeting on 11 Feb 1884.
My great-grandfather William Ralph was licencee of the Northumberland Hotel in December 1880 and he later took over the licence of the Gold Miners Hotel (also known as Stokers Hotel) in 1885 which he held until his death in 1890 when the licence was taken on by his widow Mary Ann and after she remarried to Eliza Abell; the licence was held by Eliza untill he joined the Ambulance Corp in Sth Africa. I don’t know anything further but Mary Ann’s brother (George Garratt) married a Hannah Stoker.
Hello Ian, I am also a great granddaughter of William Ralph and his wife Mary Ann née Garratt., through their son George Edward Ralph & his wife Elizabeth Jane Allinson.They were involved in Mining as well as the Hotel business in Newcastle. George Edward Ralph ran a business in Railway Street Merewether. Hope to hear from you. Cheers Jennifer