THE front bar of the Golden Fleece Hotel in Scone dates back to 1842 and over the years it became an icon in the districts history as a beautiful art deco hotel, then expanded when Glenbawn Dam was being built in the 1950’s accommodating many workers on the Dam.
See plenty of photos below.
Today marks a new development in the life of the Hotel as current owners Bart and Gail say their goodbyes and hand over the keys to the new owners who have plans to renovate the hotel, while preserving the beautiful historic architecture and ensuring it remains an iconic part of Scone’s history.
Last night I caught up with Harry Wynn who is now 83 and has been drinking at the Golden Fleece since he was 16 and his mate Mick McBain who is 80, but a relative newcomer, having moved to Scone in 1962.
Together they told me a few stories about the history of the Golden Fleece, but most stories veered well off topic and I’m not sure I could verify any of them.
“The beers been good here for 50 years and the scotch is not bad either,” said Harry.
“Tonight there’s more people in here than we’ve seen in a while, but when the dam was being built in the 50’s this place was chocka every day of the week, you couldn’t move in here,” he said.
“And I know this town is in drought now, but I’ve seen three foot of water come right through here in the 1970’s,” he said.
“It’s been a good pub for Scone too, sponsored a lot teams, the Scone Football Club and you know they have won the most premierships of any club in New South Wales,” said Harry.
“Yeah, followed by South Sydney, but they’re second to here,” said Mick.
“If Scone won a grand final, everyone would be here and when they won in ’66 they ran out of glasses, so we didn’t wash them between drinks, we just kept getting them refilled,” said Harry.
“And they sponsor other teams too over the years, the hickey, basketball lots of things,” he said.
“And my son, Sean McBain, when he was 9, in 1979 he won the Clayton’s Cup and played with Les and Noel Cleal and they had a photo of him up here,” said Mick.
“The pub has been a bit posh at times, but there’s been times when it’s been a bit shit too,” laughed Harry.
“This used to be the place to get married,” he said.
“Brides would come from everywhere,” he said.
“The big dining room was where they’d have the reception and it would be packed with people and dance bands,” he said.
“The old girls would be in the kitchen and they’d cook up plenty of food for everyone, I don’t know how they did it in the tiny kitchen they had,” he said.
“Everyone went to the hotels for their reception in those days, that was before any of the Clubs in town were built,” said Harry.
“There was that time they found a bloke dead in the cellar,” said Mick.
“Yeah, that was in the early 80’s and he’d been down their working and that’s where they found him,” said Harry.
“It’s had six or seven owners I can think of, but Bart has had it for the last 20 years,” said Harry.
“They say they are going to renovate it and they brought the Westpac next door so they’ll probably use that too,” he said.
“I reckon this will be back open in May for the races,” he said.
“They say they are going to update the pub and the clientele, I don’t know what that means for us old blokes,” laughed Harry.
“I don’t know where I’m going to go for a drink tomorrow,” Harry Wynn said.
Bart and Gail Cummings Say Goodbye
After owning the Golden Fleece for 20 years, Bart has decided it is time to retire.
“We’ll go back to Singleton first and we’ll travel around a bit and then find somewhere on the coast,” said Bart.
“The new owners are going to close it down and refurbish for six months and reopen in May for the Scone Cup,” he said.
“In a way I am sad, we have so many good friends here over 20 years and they are like our little family,” Bart Cummings said.
Gail was more emotional about the change and was busy saying tearful goodbyes to people, promising to come back regularly, while tying up the loose ends of 20 years and wanting to leave the Hotel in good shape.
“We have just made so many friends here and it is hard to leave, but it’s time for a new chapter,” said Gail.
“They are like family and I got a beautiful framed photo of the pub and this cute little card, that is just like the dog I just got,” she said.
“This place holds a lot of memories for a lot of people,” Gail Cummings said.
Ellie Brown has worked at the Golden Fleece for the past four years and will be starting at the Belmore soon.
She said she has loved listening to the stories of people who drink there and hearing about the history of the pub.
“We have people come back here who were married here in the 60’s and brides used to travel from everywhere to have their photos taken here,” said Ellie.
“We were looking through the old invoices and there’s one from the 12th of September 1968, they had 10 kegs of beer, 22 wines and food and it all came to $319.18,” she said.
“A schooner of beer was 42cents, you wouldn’t even get a sip for that now,” she smiled.
“It has been lovely working here, Gail and Bart are just beautiful people and I’ll miss them,” Ellie said.
Michael Burke from MacCallum Inglis said the new owner is looking forward to the renovations and bringing more accommodation into the town’s centre.
“The overview is accommodation, dining, there’ll be a pizza and Italian restaurant which will be fantastic,” said Michael Burke.
“The front bar will keep going as the front bar and he has plans for 38 rooms and rooms with ensuites,” he said.
“It’s a real opportunity to put a significant footprint here in Kelly Street for accommodation, because we don’t have anything right in the centre and do it on a medium to up market scale.
“He’s purchased the Westpac Bank next door and at the moment it is an investment property because it is under lease and he might integrate it in with accommodation here over time.
“He wants to do this all in period architecture, he’s engaging period architects and he wants the art deco style of the Fleece to remain.
“He’s said it will always remain the iconic Golden Fleece, that’s his plan.
“His intention is for the rooms to be open by May, but that will be subject to all of the works he has to do and whether it happens we’ll see, but that’s his intention.
“It’s such a tough time for everyone at the moment, due to the drought and also due to the uncertainty that faces the main street, about what’s going to happen with business in the main street.
“It shows there is outside capital coming into the mains street.
“He can see there is an upward curve happening in Scone and it’s worth mentioning that the reason he has come to Scone is because he owns two warbirds and that’s how he was introduced to Kelly Street in Scone,” he said.
“It’s exciting that the Golden Fleece is being done up, it’s good for Scone and good for the main street,” Michael Burke said.
Photos of the Golden Fleece before the renovations:
There are lots of features which show the age of the hotel, from deco style bakelite switches, rare hexagonal door knobs, detailed tiles in the fireplaces and pressed tin throughout.
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