In Property by Clyde Mooney

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The McCoy family have ended a 33-year tenure at their Hotel Bennett in Hamilton, divesting to former locals the Turners in a return to home.

The McCoy family have owned pubs in Redfern and around NSW. John and Betty McCoy purchased the Hotel Bennett in 1985 and have operated it with their sons ever since.

Executing only minor structural and design changes over the time, it has retained a reputation for being a genuine suburban ‘local’ in a rapidly changing area.

After dozens of offers to sell over the years, John, now in his 80s, decided the time was right and enlisted Deane Moore to shop the property around off-market.

Dating back to 1865, the pub is the oldest continuous licence in Hamilton, and the last of 11 hotels that once operated in the immediate area in the late 1800s, during the mining boom years.

Originally named the Lame Dog, it was renamed The Agricultural, although better-known at the time as The Tudor, in memory of its original owner, Thomas Tudor. In 1924 then owner P J Bennett changed the name again, to Hotel Bennett.

John McCoy

For over three decades the McCoys have been at the bar, but now pass the mantle to locals in kind.

“The family have agonized over this decision for a long time, but feel that not only is the timing right, but that the new owners, also a family group, will carry on their legacy,” offered Deane Moore, of Moore& Moore Real Estate.

While the price was undisclosed, Moore reports both the vendors and purchasers are happy.

“It’s a good asset, it’s a good pub, they’re good people and it’s a good story.”

Taking over in January, the Turners left the area in June with sale of their thriving Lambton Park Hotel to Riversdale. The move was largely to focus on their up-and-coming Haymarket Hotel in Sydney, but its continued success quickly brought Dan Turner back to the Newcastle market.

“I quite enjoy Newcastle and I’ve sort of settled down here, and as much as I do like going back to Sydney this is what I call home now.

“Almost as soon as we sold the Lambton Park we were on the hunt for something else. It took a little while, but we’re pretty excited to get our hands on the Bennett.”

The Haymarket has rapidly climbed the gaming ranks in the past two years, from a modest place in the 400s to an anticipated Top200 position by end of 2018.

Turner sees blue sky in all departments at the Bennett, planning to capitalise on bar and accommodation, implement improvements to the gaming offering and eventually take over the bistro, currently leased as a Chinese restaurant.

Recognising the heat in the market, he is thankful to have bought again in the Newcastle region –brimming with opportunity amid major infrastructure development and property investment.

“We’re lucky to get our hands on something, with how quickly venues are changing hands, so we’re really excited,” he says.

“It’s tough for the independent guys, trying to beat some of the groups out there, but we’re definitely in it for the long haul and we’ve got a good one, so we’re pumped.”