The last beer was pulled and the Terminus Hotel closed for business in 1984. Very oddly, given the popularity of the area, it has remained boarded up and apparently abandoned ever since.
For most of this time the building was owned by property moguls, Isaac and Susan Wakil, who had and still have an extensive property portfolio in inner Sydney, featuring many derelict buildings – at least 10 in this inner city suburb Pyrmont alone. The Wakils, now in their 80s with no known heirs, withdrew, overnight, from a very active public and high society life in the early 1990s though they continue to live in Sydney, in the rather exclusive Vaucluse suburb.
While the Wakil’s properties have displayed ‘For Lease’ signs, in reality they didn’t renovate, sell or lease out any of their properties – indeed many of the telephone numbers on the ‘For Lease’ signs have yet to be updated for the additional digit added to Sydney telephone numbers some 20 years ago!
In 2014 the couple, long derided as “land bankers” who profited on tax breaks earned from leaving property vacant, suddenly announced plans to sell off $200 million worth of property and donate the proceeds to charity. To get the ball rolling, they immediately donated $10.8 million to Sydney University’s nursing school. In 2016 the Wakils donated a further A$35m to the nursing school. It was in 2014 that the Terminus Hotel was sold to, private developers, Auswin TWT which held the property, again rather ironically doing nothing to it, until early 2016.
The Federation Style hotel was built in the early 1900s and, until 1911, traded as The Cooper’s Arms Inn. In 1911 it was renamed the Terminus Hotel, in reference to the tramline which terminated on Jones Street, just outside the hotel – before buses replaced the service in the 1950s.
Albeit closed for over thirty years and now heavily overgrown with ivy, the hotel retains many of its original features both inside (which I haven’t seen) and outside, including its red brick façade, parapet skyline detailing, glazed tile dado, Art Nouveau sand-blasted glazing and old signage, making it a popular subject for the amateur photographer. The advertisement for Tooths and Reschs beer on tap, still visible on the exterior of the building facing Harris Street, is a reminder that the brewing company, Tooth and Co, formerly owned the hotel.
An excellent article, including many photographs, on the interior of the hotel in early 2016 can be seen at http://www.commercialrealestate.com.au/news/first-look-inside-the-terminus-hotel-pyrmont-time-capsule/. Also http://www.businessinsider.com.au/a-photographer-has-taken-these-incredible-photos-of-an-australian-pub-left-abandoned-for-30-years-2016-4
From an historical perspective, the Terminus Hotel was one of Sydney’s earliest working-class pubs, popular with workers from the former CSR sugar mill, two power stations, quarries, railyards and wharves in the area. This was, of course, in the days when Pyrmont was an impoverished working class suburb, a far cry from the gentrified locale it is today.
In early 2016 the Terminus hotel was sold to another private developer who is considering a number of uses including reopening it as a hotel/pub – it retains its original license. Rather ironically, after 30 years of whining by the council about the site lying vacant its eventual sale was delayed due to limited interest, given a council heritage listing on the building which severely restricts its redevelopment potential. Only time will tell what happens to the former hotel. In the meantime enjoy this little piece of history in Pyrmont.
Address: 61 Harris Street, Pyrmont