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Archives Outside - For people who love, use and manage archives

Can you date this photograph? (Hero of Waterloo Hotel, The Rocks)

It’s a well known fact that The Rocks has many hotels/pubs. Although there are elegant 5 Star establishments the ones with the most character are those that are still standing and serving drinks just like they were over a 100 years ago.  One that falls into the latter category is the Hero of Waterloo…and like many Aussie pubs it’s on a corner.

This is such a great image and we would like help in identifying the time period it was taken…so over to you!

Larger version on Flickr

We have many other undated photographs in Photo Investigator and on our Flickr account. If you know the dates or any other interesting facts about these images please let us know.

  • Melissa says:

    It looks like the proprietor’s name just above the front door is “Michael Finnan”. Finding out when he was in charge of the Hero of Waterloo.

    Another feature is the white building 2 doors down from the Hero of Waterloo. Looking at the building on Google maps indicates that the building was built in 1900.

    The gas lamp just above the door leads me to also suspect the photo was taken either during or before 1904 (before the changeover to electricity).

    So, at this early stage, I’m going to suggest approximately between 1900-1904.

    September 6, 2010 at 6:19 am
  • Melissa says:

    There are a couple of articles on trove relating to the Hero of Waterloo. Of particular note is the article dated 25 November 1897 from the SMH (titled “Water Licensing Court”, page 3) indicating that the transfer of publication house had occurred from M.G. Gustavson to Michael Finnan. He was still the licensee in 1899 (as per SMH article titled “Police Courts” – which also contains an interesting account of how Mr Finnan refused admittance to the police and was fined accordingly).

    There are a couple of photos of the hotel on the City of Sydney Image Library. One image of the hotel dated circa 1907 indicates that the licensee at that time was Denis Clancy (although I have not found a licensing notice indicating this).

    September 6, 2010 at 9:15 am
  • pellethepoet says:

    Inspired by beachcomberaustralia’s query over on Flickr, about the discreprency in the number of storeys that the warehouse in the distance has now (5) and had then (7):

    The seven storey warehouse burnt down on the evening of Friday, 20 March, 1903.
    >>> The Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 21 March 1903, pp. 11-12. <<<
    Keep reading, the account goes on beyond the highlighted segment. Seems to have been a spectacular fire. This of course means we've narrowed the date range for the photo: 1900 – 20/3/1903. Much narrower than the State Library of Victoria and City of Sydney Archives circa dates of 1901 and 1910.

    Melissa you were spot on in your initial date estimate!

    September 6, 2010 at 9:31 pm
  • Melissa says:

    Thanks pellethepoet. What an interesting article from 1903. I was wondering why the Bond building had 2 floors less than what it does today ….

    September 6, 2010 at 10:01 pm
  • Anthea Brown says:

    @Melissa that is great detective work seeking out the licensee of the pub! With that info plus the combined efforts of @beachcomberaustralia’s keen eye in spotting the height variation of the warehouse and @pellethepoet’s research into the fire it’s a nice narrow date range of 1900-20/3/1903.

    September 7, 2010 at 9:17 am
  • Iain Stuart says:

    Isn’t this one of the photos taken slightly before the plague inspired demolition in the Rocks? This would date it c1902.


    September 7, 2010 at 9:53 am
  • Rhonda Campbell says:

    Thanks to everyone who commented on the image, both on the blog and Flickr. Not only did we learn about the history of the hotel we also got snippets of the history of the surrounds buildings. We have annotated the date to c.1901.

    September 16, 2010 at 11:31 am