Towards the Commercial Hotel


Towards the Commercial Hotel 35.6cm x 22.9cm

Original Oil on Board by John Vander

Johns Inspiration: “Thirty-Five kilometres west of Newcastle, Morpeth is a unique example of an inland river port town. Morpeth was amongst the greatest of Australian river ports in its heyday more than 150 bullock teams worked the ports hauling wheat, wool, hides and timber to the ships that took it to Sydney or overseas for sale. After the shipping trade declined in the early 1900’s the village deteriorated but many of the buildings remained to fall into disrepair.  The bank closed, the 18 hotels, dwindled to just 2 that still trade today. Today the town is a well-preserved tourist town with the Commercial Hotel one of only 2 remaining in trade as a hotel.  The former courthouse last held court in 1949, shown here in the foreground often saw sailors, bullockies, and locals before the court for drunkenness.   My painting of Swan Street helps you to imagine a time when Morpeth, thronged with people, horse and carts as well as bullock teams.”

The former courthouse shown here in the foreground is located at 123-125 Swan Street the Classical Revival Court House was completed in 1862 and features round-headed windows, channelled stone, pilasters, architrave and pediment. It now serves as a local history museum. The Museums & Galleries of NSW website points out “The fascinating history of the area is represented in the courthouse … together with the gallery of ‘The Morpeth River Boats’ photographs and models. Do you remember ‘OAK’ milkshakes, and Arnott’s biscuits? See how they started in Morpeth along with other industries, such as Arnott’s biscuits, Soul Pattinson and Brambles International Transport.”

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