The Friend in Hand, in the quiet back streets of Glebe, is also unique in that it retains the quaint name it was given over 150 years ago, when pubs with the label Dog and Duck, Plough, Steam Engine, Crooked Billet, Old Blue Pot, Labour in Vain Hotel, Bush Tavern, Black Dog, and Sprig of Shillelagh were the norm around the streets of Sydney.
Built as a timber inn by Michael Delohenty, the Friend in Hand was licensed to trade on July 1 1857 after the publican transferred his license of the Albert Inn, on what is today Broadway. He and his wife Honora had been at the helm of the Albert Inn, on what was then known as Parramatta Street, since 1854.
Michael hosted the Friend in Hand Inn for 15 years before his death in 1872. His widow Honora took over as host for many years after her husband’s death.
Tooth and Company bought the old inn around 1921, and plans for a new hotel, prepared by architect R.M. Joy, were submitted to Council in 1936 and the new building was completed in 1937.
While the Friend in Hand was rebuilt, customers’ thirsts were kept at bay with a “temporary bar”. As the new brick hotel neared completion, a huge storm hit Sydney in December 1936, dumping record rain on Sydney. The Sydney Morning Herald reported: “Some of the streets in city and suburbs were awash, from gutter to gutter during the deluge. At the Friend-in-Hand Hotel, Glebe, the barman and his customers had to meet an unusual occasion. Rain penetrated the temporary bar, but, rather than forsake their haven, especially after a curtailed sports programme, they took off their shoes and socks, put up their umbrellas, and continued to take the refreshment they felt they so needed.”
When completed the hotel became one of many Sydney hotels built in the inter-war Functionalist Style at the time, with its Art Deco overtones.
58 Cowper St, Glebe NSW 2037