Friday, August 31, 2012

Eden's Pubs of the Past - The Crown & Anchor:

Shortly after Benjamin Boyd had set his sights on the southern shores of Twofold Bay for his self named settlement, the government township of Eden also saw progress with the founding of its first licensed premises. Following William Hirst's purchase of allotments at the first land sales in 1843, he set about constructing a Regency style building to accommodate the Crown & Anchor Inn.

It was James Rixon who took up the lease on the  new premises, advertising in December 1844 " inform the public that...application will be made at the next licensing day for a publican's license, in the mean time parties visiting the Bay will be accomodated [sic] with lodging, &c..."

Born in Sydney in 1806, the second son of convict parents, James married Elizabeth Hoare in 1833, moving to the Twofold Bay district to work for the three Scottish Imlay brothers before striking out on his own account to enter the shore based whaling & inn keeping businesses.

James Rixon was the first licensee of the Crown & Anchor.

However, with the Seahorse Inn the lynch pin of Boyd's hamlet, the entrepreneur was evidently keen to retain a monopoly on the local inn keeping trade, convincing the magistrates at Broulee to reject Rixon's application & forcing him to make the lengthy journey to Sydney to obtain his certificate. Finally securing a publican's license for the Crown & Anchor in March 1845, the Broulee bench apparently relented, opting to renew Rixon's Crown & Anchor's license the following year. Renewals became significantly more straightforward when the Eden Court of Petty Sessions was established in December 1846, & from that time on Rixon & other local publicans were able to secure their consents locally. Justices of the Peace William Walker Junior & Oswald W. Brierly approved Rixon's certificate for the Crown & Anchor in April 1847, with James Roberts of Eden & Syms Covington of Pambula named as sureties.

By this time, however, property owners William Hirst & his brother George, trading as William Hirst & Co, were in serious financial straits, & in the wake of their financial collapse, the way was clear for Rixon to purchase the property outright, securing ownership of the building in 1848.

1855 lithograph by Elizabeth Hudspeth, showing the Crown & Anchor towards the top of the hill on the left.

Continuing to operate the Crown & Anchor until 1861, Rixon's hotel quickly became a venue of choice for all manner of public activities, including meetings, dinners & presentations. In August 1855, residents gathered to present a purse of seventy sovereigns to Customs Officer Stewart Mowle "...on the occasion of his departure from the district...", while in January the following year, Commissioner of Crown Lands & Police Magistrate Arthur W. Manning was guest of honour at a farewell dinner prior to his removal to the Darling Downs & Moreton Districts. March 1856 saw political hopeful Daniel Egan meet with around fifty Eden electors to discuss representation of the Monaro & a month later he was honoured with a public dinner to mark his election.

Described in 1855 as "...situated in Imlay Street in the town of Eden [&] known as the Crown & Anchor...", the premises was located "...100 yards from the nearest licensed house..." with the certificate described as "...old..." while an 1857 letter to the Sydney Morning Herald claimed that the Crown & Anchor provided " good the best hotel Sydney can boast of." Advertising during 1860 promoted the location of the venue "On the summit of the slope from the wharf..."

Eden from the Lookout, 1900, showing the Crown & Anchor towards the top of the hill to the left.

James & his wife Elizabeth gained a reputation locally for their benevolence, & in 1858 this was recognised by residents who gathered at the Crown & Anchor to present Mrs Rixon with "...a handsome silver tea service..." for her "...uniform kindness & general philanthropy...". The accompanying address noted that " times of trouble, & in the hour of sickness, we have always found you ready to give your assistance..."

As one of Eden's hotels already established at the onset of the Kiandra gold rush of late 1859, the Crown & Anchor was well placed to take advantage of the dramatic increase in local traffic, & recognising the opportunities, Rixon moved quickly to improve the facilities, in June 1860 undertaking "...extensive additions to his hostelry, which, when completed, will render the Crown & Anchor worthy of its name..."

Looking across Ross's Bay from the Lookout towards Eden. The Crown & Anchor can be clearly seen next the the "Half House".

By 1862, however, James & Elizabeth had moved to Bega to take over the Family Hotel & Mr. T. Matthews was ensconced in the Crown & Anchor. When the steam ship City of Sydney was wrecked near Green Cape that year, it was that hotel that provided accommodation for survivors after their gruelling six odd hour row from the site, a passenger on that fateful voyage noting that "...the shipwrecked people were hospitably received at Mr. T. Matthews' Crown & Anchor Hotel, Eden..."

Daniel Goldsmith had taken over as licensee by 1863, remaining in charge until the Eden Bench cancelled his license in July 1865, after which the Crown & Anchor doesn't appear to have been relicensed.

Now operating as a bed and breakfast facility, the building has also been used, over the years, as a telegraph office, bank & private residence.

The Crown & Anchor is today the oldest remaining building in Eden.
 © Angela George. 


  • A Paper on the Identify of the Crown & Anchor, July 1983 - Documents Discovered at 239 Imlay Street.
  • Balfe, R. R. (comp.), Shipping in Ports of the Bega Valley Shire Region 1803 - 1846, October 1995.
  • AONSW, Bench Books Bega Court of Petty Sessions.
  • Bega District News
  • Brisbane Courier
  • Certificates Authorising the Granting of Liquor licenses, 1855-56.
  • Clarke, Patricia, A Colonial Woman - The Life & Times of Mary Braidwood Mowle, Eden Killer Whale Museum, 3rd edition, 2000.
  • Cornell, John Bernard (comp.) Local History Notes, n.p., n.d.
  • AONSW, Bench Books Eden Court of Petty Sessions
  • Empire
  • Gardner, Lyndsay, Eden-Monaro to 1850 - A Regional History, unpublished thesis, University College, Canberra, ACT.
  • Illawarra Mercury
  • McKenzie, J. A. S., The Twofold Bay Story, Eden Killer Whale Museum, 1991.
  • Melbourne Argus
  • NSW Births, Deaths & Marriage records.
  • NSW Colonial Secretary's Publican's License Certificates
  • NSW Government Gazette
  • Perkins, J. A. Index to J. A. Perkins Papers, Monaro District Items 1823 - 1858, vols. 1, 2, Manly, NSW
  • Perkins Papers, NLA
  • Ryan, Kenneth Bruce, Towns & Settlements of the South Coast, NSW, PhD, Australian National University, 1965.
  • Shipping Gazette
  • Sydney Morning Herald
  • Twofold Bay & Maneroo Telegraph

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