The Barden Hotels

Extract from "The Propeller" newspaper, 18/3/1937, page 11.

"Currency Lass . . . . built on the site that was later occupied by the house of the railway station master, a few doors up from the present Post Office in Forest Road. It was built two years after the Blue Post Hotel (opposite where Hurstville School stands - the original site of Hurstville town) in 1852 by Mr. James Flood, being a long and low weatherboard building. The first landlord was a German named Scharmann being later taken over by Spencer Barden , (then) Mr. John Pearce and Mr. Martin Byrnes in whose time it was closed.

Just before its demise its name was changed to "Free and Easy" but was shortly after pulled down following resumption for construction of the railway.

One of the chief sporting attractions at the "Currency Lass" was its famous bowling alley, where many a keen game of ninepins was decided. The ball used was about a foot in diameter and was very heavy, bowlers leaning it on their wrists before bowling. One of PeakhurstÕs pioneers, Mr. Harry Hannon, used to be the local champion at the game.

In the rear yard of this old hotel, cock fighting was encouraged extensively in all its fierceness and brutality. large sums of money changed hands over these fights, while any disputes were promptly settled in the yard with Ôfree and easeÕ.

This old hotel was the scene of many a grand ball; cabbage tree hats and gay sashes were the order of the day, music being generally supplied by a lone fiddler.

Horse racing was also encouraged, the track generally being from Bridge Street down Forest Road and finishing at the hotel."

This information was obtained from the reminiscences of elderly people of the district in 1937 for articles celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Illawarra railway line. From "ROCKDALE ITS BEGINNING AND DEVELOPMENT" by Philip Geeves:

"Apropos of hotels, the "Highbury Barn" on Forest Road had now passed into the hands of Frederick Barden and was later kept by Edwin Barden. But this old inn did not keep its monopoly of the passing trade on Arncliffe Hill for, anticipating the influx of settlement, another hotel, aptly named the "Botany View", was opened by John Clune about 1880."

The Echo of 23/10/1890 also mentions Spencer Barden as being the licensee of the "Currency Lass", and also of the "Cottage of Content" at Cooks River in the 1870Õs (the site of which inn being unknown). There is however a Barden Street at Tempe on the north side of Cooks River, and another one at Arncliffe on the south side of Cooks River, and this street would be close to "The Bold Forester Inn" and the "Highbury Barn".

Cottage of Content
L to R Sophie Harriet Barden, Lillian Smith, Lillian Barden

Riverview Hotel

Highbury Barn

Details of some licensees:

The "Bold Forester" was sold on 3/6/1865 to Trewin Sleath for £250, and a description of the property was given at the time by Richardson and Wrench. (Mitchell Library, A4511, p.291)


All that piece of land, containing 4 acres and 16 perches, on the road from Cooks to Georges River, about half a mile beyond the CookÕs River Dam, on which is that well known inn, The Bold Forester, now occupied by Mrs. Barden. The house contains bar, taproom, and five apartments, also large kitchen, five stall stables, piggery, etc.

About three acres of the land are enclosed by a paling fence, portion of which is laid out as an orchard with (fruit) bearing trees, and the residue is a market garden. A beautiful never-failing stream of fresh water runs through this land, which is reputed to be the best in the locality.

From the nature of the soil and its proximity to the city, this property is well-adapted for a market garden, in addition to the present business carried on in the premises. It is also worthy of the attention butchers, pig breeders, fellmonger, or those who require a constant supply of good water in connection with their business."

Acknowledgements | Origins of the Barden Surname | The Earliest Bardens | The Reasons for Migration
The First (Barden) Arrivals | The Bounty Migrants | Down to the Beautiful Valley
Publicans, Butchers, Produce Merchants and Landholders | A Family Business | The Barden Hotels
Items from Newspapers | Australian Men of Mark | Sidney Barden | Joseph Thomas Barden
Cooks River - A History

©2007 Peter Noone