The London Hotel | NSW Environment & Heritage

Culture and heritage


The London Hotel

Item details

Name of item: The London Hotel
Other name/s: Golden Eagle Hotel, Circular Saw Hotel, London Tavern
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Primary address: 234 Darling Street, Balmain, NSW 2041
County: Cumberland
Local govt. area: Leichhardt
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
234 Darling StreetBalmainLeichhardt CumberlandPrimary Address

Statement of significance:

The London Hotel, No. 234 Darling Street is of local historic, social, technological and aesthetic significance as an early stone building initially constructed between 1857 and 1859 and converted into a Hotel in c. 1869. The building significantly continues to operate as a hotel and retains evidence of its subsequent additions and phases of development. It occupies an elevated corner site and its face stone and brick façades and details, corner splay, rendered parapet and overall roof form and chimneys make a positive contribution to the Darling and Jane Street streetscapes. With the neighbouring buildings, Nos. 234-238 form a visually prominent group.

Note: This inventory sheet is not intended to be a definitive study of the heritage item, therefore information may not be accurate and complete. The information should be regarded as a general guide. Further research is always recommended as part of the preparation of development proposals for heritage items.
Date significance updated: 14 Jun 11
Note: There are incomplete details for a number of items listed in NSW. The Heritage Division intends to develop or upgrade statements of significance and other information for these items as resources become available.


Builder/Maker: John Hardman 1857-1859, John Booth 1869, Toohey's Ltd 1914 & 1928.
Construction years: 1857-1928
Physical description: Two storey Hotel located on south east corner of Darling and Jane Streets. The building has face stone and face brick facades with corner splay and rendered parapet to Darling Street and part of the Jane Street return. The southern end of the building and southern end of the jane Street façade has a separate hipped roof and chimneys. The parapet has dentilled detail and pediment features over the two façades and splayed corner bearing “London Hotel” in relief lettering. Brick sections abut the main stone structure and addition occupying the corner. The building has timber framed double hung windows with stone and brick lintels and sills and timber and glass doors with side and toplights on the ground floor of the Darling Street façade and corner to Jane Street. A timber and glass service door and sidelight and timber panelled garage doors are located at the southern end of the Jane Street façade. An elevated verandah with modern ceramic tile finish and cast iron lace balustrade on solid rendered base extends across the front of the Darling Street façade. A wide suspended steel framed and clad awning extends over the verandah and around the corner and along part of the Jane Street façade. The building is constructed to the Jane Street boundary. The building is elevated above the Darling Street pedestrian footpath which is also above street level. Steps at the end of Jane Street extend down to the street.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
In very good condition. The rendered parapet is a later addition and extends around the corner and connects the stone and brick facades along Darling Street and northern section of the Jane Street façade. Three buildings are visible along the Jane Street façade. Some previous repairs and patching and alteration of openings is also evident.
Modifications and dates: 1988: Internal alterations (87/897).
2002: Alterations and additions to existing hotel to provide gaming machine room and wheelchair accessible toilet (D/2002/20, CC/2002/432).
Further information: A flag has also been added over the corner splay.
Current use: Hotel
Former use: Hotel


Historical notes: Surgeon William Balmain was granted 550 acres and most of the area now encompassing Balmain in 1800. In 1801 the entire grant was transferred to fellow surgeon John Gilchrist. Gilchrist never actually lived in NSW and advertised the land for sale in 1823. However, the sale was not a success. He gave power of attorney to his Sydney-based agent and merchant, Frank Parbury, who commissioned Surveyor John Armstrong to subdivide part of the land. In 1836 22, 2-4 acres lots mostly about Balmain East were auctioned for sale by Parbury on behalf of the absentee landowner, Gilchrist.
Four lots containing about 38 acres were sold by Gilchrist at the second major sale of the Balmain Estate in August 1837. Included in this land was a 33 foot wide road, later named Adolphus Street. Robert Blake, Sheriff of NSW purchased Lot 1, the area roughly to the east of Adolphus Street to Cameron’s Cove. The remaining 30 acres, Lots 2-4 were purchased by Thomas Hyndes. Hyndes mortgaged Lots 2-4 in early 1840 to John Terry Hughes who in the same year mortgaged it to Adolphus William Young. Young subsequently acquired the land, subdivided and began to sell the various allotments in the late 1840s.
Balmain stonemason, John Hardman purchased Lot P of Section 12 of the 1847 subdivision which extended along Jane Street with narrow frontage to Darling Street and Vincent Lane from Young in 1860. He had already built a stone shop with living quarters above on the corner of Darling and Jane Streets sometime between 1857 and 1859. Hardman operated as a corner dealer there initially, however, was listed as a stonemason there between 1864 and 1870.
By 1869 when he sold to timber merchant John Booth he had built five houses on the land. The five houses included the three terraces, Nos. 2-6 Jane Street. Booth converted Hardman’s stone shop and house to a hotel and probably enlarged it on the eastern side and at the rear. Booth let it to Christopher Bate who opened the “Golden Eagle Hotel” there in 1870. A subsequent licensee changed the name to the “Circular Saw Hotel” in 1872. It became the “London Tavern” in 1874-78.
Booth sold the Darling Street portion of the land with the hotel and No. 232 Darling Street to Elizabeth Isaacs in 1876. She let the building to James Alexander Brodie in 1880. A seven year lease was formalised in 1883 and included the “London Hotel” and bar fittings, bar engine, billiard table and No. 232. Brodie bought the property in 1890 and let the premises to Fred A Allen. A number of other licensees followed. Brodie was an elected alderman of Balmain Council and was Mayor in 1891. He returned to run the Hotel in 1909 and continued until 1914 when he sold to Tooheys Ltd. The brewery renovated the hotel and concealed Hardman’s stone corner building under a new façade. A number of licenses followed. In about 1928 the brewery demolished No. 232 and extended the hotel. It is probable that the rendered parapet and awning were added about this time.
Tooheys retained ownership until 1984. The new owners undertook major renovations in 1988 with works including the removal of the stucco revealing Hardman’s stone corner building and the side and rear additions.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services Growth of Balmain-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Growth of Balmain-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The site and building are of local historic significance as part of an early subdivision and Victorian development in the local area with initial corner stone constructed between 1857 and 1859. The building was converted into a Hotel in c. 1869 and subsequent additions and alterations in 1914, 1928 and 1988 reflect the growth and development of the local area and changing requirements of subsequent owners. The building significantly continues to operate as a Hotel.
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
The site is associated with a number of local land speculators, owners and occupants including John Hardman who constructed a number of dwellings in the area. It is also associated with timber merchant John Booth and Toohey’s Ltd.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is of local aesthetic significance incorporating Victorian period stone shop and resident constructed in 1857-1859 and subsequent stone and brick additions. Despite the various additions to the building the form and character of the original stone shop and early stone additions and elements including simple pattern of openings are clear with later additions also visible in the building. The building occupies an elevated and corner site and makes a positive contribution to the Darling and Jane Street streetscapes. With the neighbouring buildings, Nos. 234-238 form a visually prominent group.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The building is of some social signficance to the local community.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The building retains evidence from all of its development stages which may reveal information about the growth and development and changing requirements of the local area.
SHR Criteria g)
The building is a representative example of a Victorian stone shop and residence constructed in the 1850s which was converted for use as a hotel in the late 1860s.
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

It is recommended that: - the existing scale and character of the building and elements including stone and brick façades and details, rendered parapet, pediments and associated details, roof form and chimneys, suspended awning and simple pattern of openings should be retained and conserved; - the front verandah may also be retained and should remain open. No new additions or enclosures should be added the façade and verandah space; - the face stone and brick facades and details should remain unpainted and surfaces that have previously been painted, such as the timber and metalwork should continue to be painted in appropriate colours; - no new openings should be made to the main facades; - alterations and additions to the roof may be considered, however, should not exceed the height or detract from the building parapet and should retain a sense of the existing roofscape.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental Plan I19223 Dec 13   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Leichhardt Municipality Heritage Study1990 McDonald McPhee Pty Ltd (Craig Burton, Wendy Thorp)  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenMax Solling and Peter Reynolds1997Leichhardt: On the Margins of the City

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1940207

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