History of the Bull n Bush

John Pye’s Inn – “The Lamb & The Lark”

On 30 December 1796 a convict named John Pye was granted 20 acres of land in the Toongabbie District. With a further 30 acres granted in 1802, he set about becoming a pioneer in the district, a model citizen, successful farmer and innkeeper. In 1810 Governor Macquarie described Pye as an ‘industrious settler’ whose farm (was) ‘well cultivated in most excellent order with good offices, and comfortable decent dwelling here’.

Fortunately for John Pye, the route of the new road from Parramatta to Windsor crossed the road to Seven Hills on part of his land, cutting off a small triangle in the north-western corner of the property. This plot of land being on the meeting of two of the colonies major thoroughfares offered an ideal position for establishing an inn.

The intersection became known as “Pye’s Corner” and within a few years an inn known as the “Lamb and Lark” had been established. It was a small timber cottage with a veranda at the front offering welcome hospitality to travellers.

John Pye died on 25 September 1830 aged 63 and left the Lamb and Lark to his son John Pye Junior. 1845 saw John Pye Junior lease the inn to John Williams and Andrew Nash. Nash was a well-known Parramatta publican and entrepreneur who also held the licenses for the famous “Woolpack Inn” and the “Hawkesbury Inn”. John Williams, who later became Parramatta’s first Mayor was also associated with the Woolpack Inn.

When John Pye Junior died in 31 December 1845 he left the Lamb and Lark to his son John Pye III with his elder daughter Mary Elizabeth, to receive income from the property for life. John Pye III subsequently died on 24 June 1853 at the age of 22, interstate, without children, so the entire estate passed in 1858 to his elder sister and her husband Samuel Jenner.

Mary Elizabeth and Samuel Jenner mortgaged the property in 1854 with they and their children continuing to receive rent from the property. In 1884 the surviving children sold their life interest to Daniel Horwood, who had become mortgagee

The Royal Hotel Baulkham Hills – 1885

Daniel Horwood was a wheelwright and blacksmith by trade who had purchased the mortgage over the “Lamb and Lark” property in 1867. Horwood renamed it “The Cricketers” some time during the 1870’s and in 1885 he demolished the old building and erected a grand hotel on the site at a cost of 2000.

The new building was a magnificent two storey Victorian structure with a ground floor veranda and a first floor balcony reaching all the way around the building. He named it the “Royal Hotel”. Daniel Horwood and his wife occupied and operated the Hotel using the surrounding land as an orchard. Contemporary photographs of the time describe a busy social scene, one in which the “Royal Hotel” played a significant role.

Castle Hill was still essentially a rural area, however the traffic on the roads passing the Hotel was growing busy, particularly from the Hills farmers and orchardists taking their goods to markets, the river or the railroad. Most of the traffic was still horse-drawn and this underpinned the financial success of the Hotel and its owner. Not only was the Hotel perfectly situated to offer a break from a long slow journey, but Daniel Horwood and his brother were blacksmiths and wheelwrights so were able to offer repairs and maintenance to the travellers.

In 1888 the Hotel was leased to a man named O’Malley, who was the first of a number of tenants who ran the establishment right up until 1914 when the property was sold.

The New Century

In 1910 the tramway from Parramatta was extended to Castle Hill. This introduced a new class of clientele for the Hotel, namely daily carriers and commuters, who could be persuaded to visit the “Royal Hotel” after alighting at the Baulkham Hills tram terminus in Castle Hill Road.

The Hills was growing in population at such a rate that the construction of a private railway promising rapid rail transport from Castle Hill and Dural to Parramatta for people and produce was begun. The first stage of the railway went only as far as Carlingford and after failing to make a profit, closed in 1899 so road transport remained the primary means of moving people and produce.

On 15 December 1914, Daniel Horwood sold the “Royal Hotel” and the land around it to local storekeeper Charles Brown for 2850, who raised 1800 of the purchase price through a mortgage with Tooth & Co. Limited, signed on the same day. The following day both parties signed a lease agreement with Samuel Edward Wallington, who paid Brown 800 for the lease and agreed to deliver a weekly rental of 169. Under the agreement, the leasee agreed to pay excess water rates and maintain the interior in good order, painting and papering every three years, or more often if required. The leasor agreed to be responsible for the exterior, insurance, rates and taxes.

With Tooth’s permission, the lease of the Hotel changed hands in 1917 when William Ernest Bucklee paid Wallington 1100 to assume responsibility for it.

Soon after the exchange, with the mortgage of 1800 still owing and an additional debt of 148, 13 shillings, Charles Brown was forced to convey the property to Tooth & Co. Limited. Tooth’s continued to lease out the premises to a succession of Publicans.

A New Era – The Bull & Bush Hotel

As business begun to improve after the 1930’s depression, Tooth & Co. demolished the “Royal Baulkham Hills Hotel” and commissioned well-known Hotel architect Cyril C. Ruwald to design a more fashionable alternative, to be known as the “Bull & Bush Inn”. The building was designed with driveway access from both Windsor and Seven Hills Roads pointing the way to the automobile age. The builder was Alex Maston Limited.

All reference to the “old fashioned” Victorian building was gone. The new structure featured Tudor panelling, a low hanging roof with attic windows, reminiscent of on ‘olde’ English country pub.

Orcharding was still the predominant activity in Baulkham Hills at this time, however Windsor Road had by now become a popular route for touring cars setting out on weekend drives. Although the Castle Hill Tramway had enjoyed a brief life as a full scale railway (with its existing route upgraded in 1923 with an extension to Rogans Hill completed in 1924) this was closed in 1932. With most of the railway track at the same level as the road, it had become more dangerous as the traffic increased.

On 28th February 1941, possibly to accommodate a larger carpark as the Hotel become more popular, Tooth’s acquired an additional piece of land adjoining the Hotel site, fronting Windsor Road. Whilst the population of Baulkham Hills doubled between wars, increasing from 5113 in 1921 to 10646 in 1947, it still remained small in comparison with other local government areas and retained its rural character. Although local business contributed, the Hotel still relied on passing trade from the major roads as its main source of clientele.

1955 saw the existing bars made into a saloon bar with a single storey public bar and bottle department added. The Drive-in Bottleshop was constructed in 1972 with major refurbishment being carried out in 1988. On October 1st, 1991 a fire broke out in the public bar causing serious damage to the first floor of the original 1937 building. The Hotel was reconstructed and finally reopened for business on 19th of June 1992.

From 1997 to 1999 sees renovations to various parts of the Hotel, including the addition of a new dining room and upgrading of the Windsor Road elevation.

The New Millennium

November 2002 sees the Bottleshop become one of the largest Independent Walk In & Drive Through Liquor Barns in the Sydney Metropolitan Area.

An extensive renovation of the Hotel took place in late 2004. A complete makeover of the newly extended Beer Garden, along with a new amusement area built adjacent to the Bottleshop.

For people heading northwest, the “Bull & Bush Inn” remains a significant local landmark and is still a favoured “watering hole” for locals and travellers, as it has been since the first hotel opened its doors on the site in 1821, over one hundred and eighty five years ago.