For the time being we are operating solely as a bottle shop

RASCAL: Stories from the Cumberland Arms

RASCAL: Stories from the Cumberland Arms

We recently put out a post requesting any local heritage enthusiasts to get in contact with any information they could provide on our building. We received a lot of responses from interested people within the community, as well as those connected to the building (we even had the family of the licensee from 1968 -1989 get in contact!).

As part of our Birthday celebrations we thought that we would compile some of the stories below – for anyone that may be interested in the history of our building. Please see below a collection of stories relating to our building, as well as a more expansive history of the early years by local Heritage Advisor, Benjamin Petkov.

Many thanks to contributors Benjamin Petkov, Julie Stratford, Melbourne Pubs (Instagram page), Celeste Brooks, Bee Earl, Alana Gray, Matthew Webb, Margaret White and Paula Gaspardo.



While there was a hotel on the site since the late 1850s, the current building was constructed at the end of the boom era in the late 1880s, with Victorian Heritage Council listing its completion in 1890. The VHC also notes the building as being of both historical and architectural importance, thanks in part to its “extensive use of face brickwork reflecting the decline in popularity of cement render decoration after the peak of the 1880s building boom.”
MYSTERIOUS DEATH:  In 1884, and probably before construction began on the current building The Age ran a story about a ‘mysterious death’ of a woman, who was found in a clay hole at the back of the pub. Her name was Mrs Wade, she was a widow who ‘formerly kept the Governor Bourke Hotel’ in the city. The paper reported that she had last been seen in Hotham (now North Melbourne), intoxicated, and that ‘on the Tuesday before the body was found, cries for help were heard by residents of Union-street and the Sydney-road.’ Apparently the cries weren’t ‘attended to at the time’ by residents because ‘a woman living near the spot had been for some time in the habit of disturbing the neighbourhood.’

THE BRUNSWICK DROWNING CASE: More light is being thrown on the late mysterious death of the woman found in the clay hole at the rear of the Cumberland Arms Hotel, Brunswick, on the 29th ult. Sergeant Brown having had the deceased's clothes washed, discovered the name of T. Wade on one of her petticoats, and on making inquiry found that the deceased was a widow, and formerly kept the Governor Bourke Hotel, in Little Lonsdale-street. The last place where she was seen was at Hotham, at Mrs Gillon's, in Cardigan-street. She was then intoxicated and left her boxes there. There is no doubt but that on the Tuesday before the body was found, cries for help were heard by residents of Union-street and the Sydney-road, but those cries were not attended to at the time, though remembered subsequently as a woman living near the spot had been for some time in the habit of disturbing the neighbourhood.

The Leader 15 March 1884

ROBBERY AT THE CUMBERLAND ARMS: At the Brunswick police court on Saturday, before Messrs. Clement. Straw and Crook, J.Ps, a man named Richard Harvey, and his wife, Annie, were presented, the first for stealing some bottles of ale and porter from a waggon, and the wife for using obscene language. Edward White, in the employ of the Richmond Brewery, was delivering at Mr. Hoof's Cumberland Arms Hotel, and whilst inside, the male prisoner appropriated some bottles, and was arrested by Sergeant Brown. Whilst on the way to the lock-up, the woman followed and made use of some disgusting language and was also arrested. She was only released in February last after serving a sentence for a similar offence. Sergeant Brown informed the justices that the pair resided in a miserable hovel in Martin's lane. The male prisoner was sentenced to one month with hard labor, and the woman to three months.

The Age, 18 April 1887



Researched and written by Benjamin Petkov

Rascal, at 341 Sydney Road, is located in a structure formerly known as the Cumberland Arms Hotel.

The first instance of a public house operating from the site is recorded in 1857, when one Thomas Little applied for a license. This is recorded in The Argus, on the 30th April, 1857:

Thomas Little, Cumberland Arms, Brunswick. This was an application for a new house, and was opposed on petition by several publicans, who objected to an additional hotel in that locality. There was also a Wesleyan chapel contiguous to the proposed new hotel. - (The Argus, 30th April 1857, pg. 6.)

However, though opposed by neighbouring publicans, Little is supplied the license to operate a public house on the site on the 21st April the following year (The Argus, 21st April 1858, pg 6). On the 9th September, in the interim, his daughter was born in the hotel (16th September 1857, pg 4). 

Thomas Little would pass away some years later, his life chronicled in his obituary, published in the Bacchus Marsh Express:

Thomas Little was born at Hairlaihagg, Canobie, Dumfrieshire, Scotland, on September 27th   1830, consequently he was 63 years of age last September. At an early age he removed with his parents to Carlisle, County of Cumberland, England, and it was from this circumstance that Mr. Little regarded himself as a “Carlisle man” rather than claim the land o’ cakes as his native country. Cumberland is a great wrestling country – the “Cumberland style” is world-renowned, - and in youth Mr. Little was great wrestler… Accordingly early in the year 1855 Mr. and Mrs. Little (there being no family) arrived in Hobson’s Bay, and after  landing took up their residence at North Melbourne. A few months afterwards Mr. Little removed to Brunswick, where, in partnership with Mr. Geo Bencraft, the well-known oat-meal miller, he commenced business in a hay and corn store, in those days a most lucrative occupation, as the waggoners travelling along the Sydney road generally obtained their feed supplies at Brunswick. Eventually dissolving partnership Mr. Little, considering hotelkeeping an even more profitable business, built and entered into possession of the Cumberland Arms hotel, still in existence, and after selling out of that house, he built the massive stone hotel at the end of Brunswick, known as the Edinburgh Castle hotel… - (The Bacchus Marsh Express, 7 April 1894, pg. 3).

This invaluable article shows the origins of the Hotel’s name – the Cumberland Arms hotel, relating to Little’s experience as a wrestler. What is more, it links the Cumberland Arms Hotel to the other well-known local hotel, the Edinburgh Castle.

In the mid-1860s, ownership of the Hotel passed to one Thomas Martin. In 1867, a French vintner living at the Hotel, named Henri Gayet, died following what was explained as ‘disease of the heart’:

SUDDEN DEATH:  A district coroner, Mr. Candler, held an inquest at Brunswick, on Saturday last, on the body of Henri Gayet, a Frenchman, aged about 65. Thomas Martin, landlord of the Cumberland Arms Hotel, Brunswick, stated that the deceased was a vinegrower, and had  been living at his (witness’) hotel during the last two months. The deceased as he were out fishing in the Merri Creek on Friday, and while putting his rod together the deceased fell suddenly back and died. Dr. Talbot, who was called, made a post-mortem examination, ascertaining that the deceased had expired from disease of the heat, which was fatty and enlarged, with the valves ossified to a large extent. The jury returned a verdict in accordance with the medical evidence.

Following the death of Margaret Martin, Thomas’ wife, and the forced liquidation of all possessions and property on Friday the 6th August, 1880, at 2pm in the afternoon (The Age, 6th August 1880, pg. 4), ownership of the Cumberland Arms Hotel passed to one Anne Hoof and her husband.

Hoof is fined on multiple occasions for operating the hotel on a Sunday, and once the ownership of the property passed to one Florence Pickering in the late 1880s, covert Sunday trading continued:

HOTEL PROSECUTION: A case exciting great interest came on for hearing at the Brunswick Court this morning, when Florence Pickering, licensee of the Cumberland Arms Hotel, was proceeded against on a charge of failing to have every door leading to the bar of the hotel locked on a recent Sunday… (The Herald, 22nd June 1888, pg. 3).

However, Florence Pickering was still perceived as a popular public identity. For the Queen’s Birthday in 1892, Pickering held a tug of war competition in the rear courtyard of the Cumberland Hotel. The game went for a total of 1 hour, 10 minutes and 30 seconds, as recorded by the Coburg Leader (The Coburg Leader, 1st June 1892, pg. 3).

The following year, The Coburg Leader published a short history of the Hotel:

Reminiscenes of early days at the Cumberland Arms Hotel, Sydney Road, Brunswick, was shown at the Mopokes Dinner on Wednesday last. The first court of petty sessions was held there; first billiard room, first theatre, first council meeting, and all business transacted in connection with Bunswick, then a shire.  – (The Coburg Leader, 24th June 1893, pg. 2).

On the 25th April 1893, Florence Pickering passed the lease of the Cumberland Arms Hotel to one Jane Bones (The Herald, 25th April 1893, pg. 4). Bones would operate the Hotel from 1893 till in 1896, the was attacked and stabbed on the premises:

Last Saturday, half an hour before midnight as Mrs. Jane Bones, the licensee of the Cumberland Arms Hotel, assisted by her husband, Mr. Harry Bones were closing their hotel, four young men, three of whom are unknown by name, although they can be recognised by sight, and one who is known as “Ratty” came into the hotel and called for four long beers. The landlady served the liquor, but as they kept saying one to the other “Oh you pay. No, you pay,” she took back the beer. One of the four snatched up a full glass and ran into room off the narrow passage running north and into the right of-way from which the side entrance is made to the hotel. Mrs. Bones said “Give me that glass and go out all of you.” The man said, “Who’d put me out; not you, you ___;” then the landlady said “We won’t put you out; but you all go out, it is time to close up the house. Give me that glass) the man having drunk the content). If you do not give me the glass, I’ll summon you for stealing it, and I’ll follow you until I meat a policeman and will give you in charge.” Mrs. Bones then attempted to take the glass, and received a blow … Bones had one a thick velvet jacket with a stiff cuff, the knife blade must have slipped off the smooth velvet and made a clean cut ¼ inch deep in the forearm, just above the wrist. “Ratty” had a short stick in his hand, and Mrs. Bones attempted to take it, but “Ratty” said “I’ll not use it.” The men were still calling for drink, that was refused them. Mr. Bones on being called by his wife and running up the passage received a blow in the eye from someone’s fist. Mrs. Bones and her son Fred then ran through the storeroom and out into the Sydney road for the police. Senior-Constable Nolan and Constable Scholes were called in, but the men had been put out into the right-of-way, where they threw a bottle breaking a pane of glass, and hearing the police coming the men ran to Phoenix street and were lost in Cornwell’s pipe yard in the darkness. The men, it has been stated, are known by sight, but they have kept out of the way during the week… (The Coburg Leader, 11th June 1896, pg. 4).

Following this, and being fined for operating on a Sunday (in keeping with all of the previous publicans)(The Argus, 14th January 1897, pg. 3), Bones transferred the lease of the Cumberland Arms to one Nina Greene. Greene would see the Cumberland Hotel into the 20th Century (The Argus, 28th October 1897, pg. 2). Greene was publican of the hotel when the structure currently occupying at 341 Sydney Road was constructed, as evidenced by The Herald in 1899:

… Our friends the teetotallers may not like the sinking of more capital in the already formidable vested interest in the liquor traffic, but evidently owners think that commercial activity means better trade in the consumption of liquor, and better patronage of the hotels by travellers and visitors, for not only is the Yarra Yarra Family Hotel being re-built, but the old Carriers’ Arms, at the corner of Elizabeth and Little Lonsdale streets, and the still older Cumberland Arms, in Sydney road, Brunswick, have been pulled down, and are being replaced by more suitable buildings… (The Herald, 10th August 1899, pg. 4).


References: in order of how they appear in the document -

  • "ADJOURNED LICENSING SESSION FOR COUNTY OF BOURKE." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957)30 April 1857: 6. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "DISTRICT LICENSING COURT." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957)21 April 1858: 6. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "Family Notices" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954)16 September 1857: 4. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "DEATH OF MR. THOS. LITTLE, J.P." The Bacchus Marsh Express (Vic. : 1866 - 1945)7 April 1894: 3. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "INQUESTS." The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954)22 April 1867: 4. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "Advertising" The Age (Melbourne, Vic. : 1854 - 1954)6 August 1880: 4. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "BRUNSWICK—WEDNESDAY." Mercury and Weekly Courier (Vic. : 1878 - 1903)25 November 1882: 2. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "HOTEL PROSECUTION." The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954)22 June 1888: 3. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "Tug-of-War." The Coburg Leader (Vic. : 1890 - 1913)1 June 1892: 3. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "News and Notes." The Coburg Leader (Vic. : 1890 - 1913)24 June 1893: 2. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "LICENSING COURT." The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954)25 October 1893: 4. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "A Licensee Stabbed." The Coburg Leader (Vic. : 1890 - 1913)11 July 1896: 4. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "LICENSING PROSECUTION." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957)14 January 1897: 3. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "METROPOLITAN LICENSING COURT." The Argus (Melbourne, Vic. : 1848 - 1957)28 October 1897: 5. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.
  • "SIGNS OF THE TIMES." The Herald (Melbourne, Vic. : 1861 - 1954)10 August 1899: 4. Web. 7 Sep 2020 <>.


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We are endeavoring to remain open and servicing our locals, despite COVID presenting significant challenges to our industry and the community.

In order to do so, and for the safety of our staff and patrons we have implemented some temporary changes, which include:

• Offering a reduced dining menu
• Requesting all patrons wear masks in the venue when not seated, social distance (where possible), and sanitize hands.

We will be regularly cleaning the venue to keep everyone as safe as possible.

Please note we may be slightly understaffed at times, and request your patience and understanding.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Team Rascal

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