The Commercial Hotel, High Street, Northcote

Registration Number
Type of Object
Edition 1 of 5
Northcote Hysterical Society
Archival pigment print on rag paper
When Made
Public Description: 

The photograph, The Commercial Hotel, High Street, Northcote , is from a series of black and white photographs from the exhibition David Wadelton presents, The Northcote Hysterical Society which was shown at the Bundoora Homestead Art Gallery in 2015. These images, beautifully photographed and reproduced by David, are a wonderful look back at the seventies in and around the northern Melbourne suburb of Northcote.

In December 1854 a liquor licence was issued for a hotel in High Street Northcote, to be named the Shannon Hotel. For the next forty years it operated under a variety of publicans, with Denis Hayes being the most prominent. Times were tough for the hotel in the late 1850s with both Denis Hayes and Henry Drowley becoming insolvent whilst running the hotel. By the 1890s the hotel was in a poor state of repair and the Northcote Council condemned the building, forcing its demolition. The hotel was reborn in 1894 as the Commercial Hotel. The exterior of the building remains much as it was in 1894.

In 1923 the hotel came to the notice of the local magistrates when publican Ellen Jones was charged with "...having persons on the premises during prohibited hours." Constable Dunn reported that he saw ten men leaving the rear of the hotel after hours. Shortly afterwards another twenty five men were seen leaving. Dunn entered the hotel and saw empty beer glasses and Jones and her daughters clearing up. There were no men in the hotel when the police entered and Jones denied serving alcohol after hours. The magistrate dismissed the case.

In 2005 the hotel changed its name to the Northcote Social Club.

David Wadelton is a local Northcote resident, painter and photographer. Since the early 1980s he has exhibited extensively throughout Australia with regular solo exhibitions at Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne. He has participated in numerous group exhibitions from Vision In Disbelief, the 4th Biennale of Sydney in 1982, to Melbourne Now at the National Gallery of Victoria in 2013. A survey exhibition of Wadelton’s paintings and photographs, David Wadelton: Icons of Suburbia, was presented by McClelland Sculpture Park + Gallery in 2011. Wadelton has embraced social media in his practice, establishing The Northcote Hysterical Society in 2008, which now has thousands of members. He is represented in many state and national collections, including the Australian National Gallery, and the National Gallery of Victoria. In addition to his career as a visual artist, Wadelton has made significant contributions to the field of experimental music in Australia.

The Commercial Hotel, High Street, Northcote © David Wadelton

Makers Statement: 
Here you will find photos I took of Northcote and environs in the 1970s and early 80s, all in glorious black and white. I moved to Northcote in 1975, attracted by the cheap rent and proximity to the city and public transport. At first I rented a house in Clarke Street, then above a shop in High Street. We bought a house and I'm still here! Wadelton says ‘of the many thousands of negatives I have from the 1970s, the ones I chose to print back then in my home darkroom (with a few exceptions) now seem the least interesting. So many of the negatives that interest me now went right through to the keeper back then. But I kept the negatives and that’s the key.’