about harold park hotel
The Harold Park Hotel was built in 1888 and opened as the 'Centennial Hotel', before changing its name to the 'Lillie Bridge Hotel' in 1903 because of the Lillie Bridge Showgrounds opposite the site of the current race track formerly known as Forest Lodge.
The Lillie Bridge grounds, owned and operated by Sir James Joyton Smith were home to the 'underbelly of the time' and boasted colourful identities amongst side shows, prize fights, professional foot races and greyhound racing. Australia's first mechanical hare was used at Harold Park in 1927, and all Sydney greyhound racing was held here until Wentworth Park became the home of the dishlickers in 1939.
The Grounds were leased and then sold, to the NSW Trotting Club in 1911 and known as 'Epping' until 1929. Due to the confusion of the name and the well known Sydney suburb, they were renamed 'Harold Park' after the imported 'Childe Harold' - one of the great progenitors of the stock in the early night trotting days. The Paceway was sold two years ago and will be developed into luxury apartments.
The original hotel, a magnificent three-story structure, was destroyed by fire in 1959. During the '60s' and '70s' the hotel was known as a place where one could be heard. Politics in the Pub, Poets in the Pub were regular events. It was Sydney's Home of Comedy for most the '80s' and '90s'. Extensive renovations were undertaken early this century and the current building reopened in 2007.
The Hotel was purchased in 2010 by Australia's first 5th generation Publican, William Ryan.