The Port Dock Brewery Hotel History

The Dock Hotel entered South Australian hotel history on June 19, 1855, when its licence was proclaimed, along with 15 other new hotels in the rapidly developing colony. Port Adelaide already was a thriving port and refreshments were in great demand. The current original Port Dock Brewery Hotel, built c1882, was the second Dock Hotel on this site, replacing the original Dock Hotel, first licensed in 1855.

Port Dock Brewery Hotel on right 1929

The Port Adelaide News of January that year describing the plans for its replacement, told of a two storey building with a Dry Creek stone frontage, 15 rooms, “a commodious bar… a bar parlour… a dining room… a fine balcony…”. The same elements can be found in the old pub today, standing as it did over a century ago in Todd Street, history intact.

After more than 50 years as a licensed premises, a dreadful and undeserved fate befell the Port Dock. A local preacher and temperance crusader, the Reverend J Kirby, launched a vehement crusade against the number of pubs in the Port. The authorities gave way to his wailings on the wages of sin, and on February 12 in 1909 the headline in the “Register” foretold the sad tale: FIFTEEN FEWER HOTELS FOR PORT ADELAIDE DISTRICT

Reverend J. Kirby

Within days voting papers were printed and the people of the Port were asked to nominate which 15 of the 45 pubs in the district should be deprived of their liquor licence. In spite of heady debate, fervent support for the Port Dock, and the vote of some dedicated dock workers to increase the number of pubs, the Port Dock lost its ticket.

In the intervening years, it has been a boarding house, a stevedores office and even a bordello. Then, in 1986, the appalling injustice of 1909 was reversed. The Port Dock was again licensed. The hotel was restored and a small sophisticated brewery added and to this day the people of the Port, together with visitors from the wider world, again have the opportunity to be a part of history at the Port Dock.