Tuesday, 20 February 2018

The Curse of the Crown and Anchor Hotel

The Curse of the Crown and Anchor Hotel



Never before had there been a hotel in the South Australian colony so well known as a place of sin and debauchery as the Crown and Anchor Hotel in Adelaide’s east end.

Right from its humble beginnings in 1853, through to its present incarnation, it has attracted Adelaide’s down trodden, the unusual and the misfits, but most would not have it any other way!

The hotel has always been a popular venue, but has had a tumultuous past, with the majority of its publicans between 1853 and 1953 being charged by police for illegal after-hours sales of alcohol, or illegal gambling.

The hotel also has a long history of death, with many fatal accidents happening in the street outside the hotel, or to its residents, as they were out visiting other locations in Adelaide. This earned the hotel reputation of being cursed during the 1890’s.

The Crown and Anchor was built in 1853, and later rebuilt in 1880. The hotel has a long and sordid history of being an illegal gambling den, but in recent times it is best known as a live music venue, with the colloquial moniker “The Cranka”.

The following is just a few of the notable deaths associated with the hotel;

 In 1871, the hotels landlady was arrested for stealing another woman’s silk dress. In 1887, an inquest was heard inside the hotel concerning the death of James Dooley, who had been run over by a horse cart on the street outside. Dooley suffered a broken leg, broken hip, smashed jaw and smashed skull, it was assumed the cart, laden with 4 ton of wood, and rolled over his body and crushed him. There was indication Dooley may have been murdered, but without sufficient evidence, his death was declared an accident.

Mr McLaren died in the hotel on the 4th of October 1885 after a long illness.

In 1894, Barney Miller, a Victorian staying in Adelaide for two months, drank himself to death in the Crown and Anchor. He was found in his dead in his bed, and later a Doctor declared he had died from heart failure by excessive drinking!

Death visited the hotel again in in 1900 when Charles Siggers passed away in a private hospital nearby, and his wake was held the hotel, with his funeral cortege leaving the pub for West Terrace Cemetery on 8th of October 1900.

 In 1903, live in resident at the Hotel, Marion Mackay was struck by a fire truck in King William street dying the next day from her extensive injuries.

In 1908, a painter named Robert Peters was found dead in a shed on the premises by owner Mrs Calnan. Later that same year, Mrs Calnan’s husband, John, passed away upstairs in the hotel at the age of 38, they had only been married for two years.

In 1927, another publican passed away in the hotel. George Owens died at the age of 53 from a heart attack, leaving behind his wife and three children to run the business.


Researched and written by Allen Tiller.

© 2018 Allen Tiller


Selected Bibliography:

1894 'SUDDEN DEATH IN AN HOTEL.', The Advertiser (Adelaide, SA : 1889 - 1931), 10 July, p. 7. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article25730227

1934 'TOOK BARREL FROM HOTEL YARD', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 17 October, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article128411035

1941 'FINES IMPOSED ON EIGHT MEN', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 21 April, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article131965630


1946 'FINES FOR HOTEL OFFENCES', News (Adelaide, SA : 1923 - 1954), 1 July, p. 3. , viewed 02 Jan 2018, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article130850532