Classified by the National Trust of S.A
Mitcham Village and Edinburgh Hotel & Cellar History
The Edinburgh Hotel is situated in the heart of Mitcham Village on one of South Australia’s original outlying settlements. It was first subdivided by the South Australian Company back in 1840. The suburb of Mitcham was named after “Mitcham“ in Surrey England, the birthplace of the Manager of the South Australian Company, William Giles.
The hotel was built and licensed to carpenter Robert Nesbit, from 1869 to 1874. Nesbit died three years later and was buried with his baby son in Mitcham Cemetery. He had lived in Mitcham since at least 1857 with his wife, Helen Pringle and five children born in Mitcham. A generation later his son, William Nesbit ran the hotel for eight years between 1887-1895, taking over from his mother in law, Sarah, who ran it between 1885-86. Helen’s parents, John and Sarah Pringle arrived in SA in 1867 on the Canterbury. John was a coach smith and he took over from Robert Nesbit as publican in 1874 and ran it until his death in 1879.
The Edinburgh Hotel was by no means the first hotel in the Mitcham Village area, in fact, by 1869 there were six licensed houses in the vicinity, the first being the Black Swan built in 1847, on the south corner of Evans Avenue and Old Belair Road adjacent to the Brown Hill Creek reserve.
Henry Taylor saw an opportunity when the Black Swan closed and opened the imposing two story, Brown Hill Creek Inn in 1850. This closed in 1864 and five years later in 1869, opened again with W. Miller as the licensee and continued until 1909 with Robert J. Miller as Licensee. The Blackwood Inn also opened which later became the Belair Hotel.
Mitcham’s first public transport left from the front of the hotel in the form of Mrs Kinsman’s cart three times a week to Adelaide and back. Her husband, it’s said, left for the gold fields and she used her initiative to support her family. The Edinburgh hotel was the watering hole for many of the quarry-men on their way home. There was a horse and trough out the front for horses to drink while their masters went inside.
Although regrettably many of the early buildings have been demolished, the shape of the original Mitcham Village is still discernable. The first house built in 1840 still stands today in Brown Hill Creek Road as do many of the shops and cottages in adjoining Albert Street. All are classical reminders of the early history of the Victorian era.
Charles Mallen was a brewer who at one time owned the brewery whose office still remains today at the corner of Princes and Unley Roads (opposite the Torrens Arms Hotel). In the early 1970’s ownership of the Edinburgh was in a state of flux between the Mallen family and Reynella winery. Fortunately, the new owners of Reynella made sure the hotel remained an integral part of the district.
In 1914, the North wing of the Edinburgh was built. In 1974, the hotel was operating on a special license between April and December because “Mallens Edinburgh Hotel Pty.Ltd” were looking to demolishing the site to make way for a hotel/motel complex. These plans were quashed when over 1500 objections were lodged with the Mitcham Council. This was initiated by Mrs Trishia Cosh. The Mallens family, then consulted their architect, Mr E.E von Schramek and on the 7th December 1974, the director of the Mallens group which owned a number of other hotels, Geoff Shepherd, told the Licensing court that more than $130 000 would be spent on the hotel and the existing façade would remain. Mr Shepherd said $96 000 would be spent on buildings and alterations, $15 000 on repairs and $20 000 on refurbishing the hotel. A drive in bottle department, cool room and bottle shop would be added to the south side of the hotel (now the Gaming Room). The public bar would be redesigned and the dining room and kitchen upgraded and there would be additional lavatories built. Renovations were completed in 1976 and the architect was Eric van Schramek (of Schramek and Davies), and the builder was Tosolini of Norwood.
In 1976, a presentation was made by Hon.Don Simmons, Minister for the environment. The North, South and East elevations were classified by the National Trust of S.A as a “building of interest”.
The Edinburgh was purchased by Chris Codling and Danny Djurasevich in 1978.
Bevan and Rita Campbell were the managers at that time. Around 1978, the new owners then specially imported two old English gas lights from the UK and attached to the cast iron posts which were similar to the original posts erected infront of the hotel in 1869.
The two ex Scotch College owners have a great affinity for the Mitcham area and have gradually renovated the hotel with great historic sympathy to the local area.
The Victorian Dining Room was renovated in 1991 and the Pavilion was raised, a new kitchen built and Village Bar extended in 1994.
Edinburgh Cellars history
Janet Cunningham was the daughter of Mr and Mrs John Cunningham who arrived in S.A on the 19th December 1849 on “Nesto”. They died when Janet was two years old and she was then raised by James and Janet Gardiner.
James and Janet Gardiner built “The General Store “ on the corner of Albert and High Street Mitcham in 1855.
Janet eventually inherited the property and continued the family business with her dog “Jacko” until her death in 1942. She sold haberdashery and lots of lollies, the aniseed balls, four for a penny, being very popular, with the children.
In 1990 the Mitcham Arts and Crafts shop which had been leasing the building from Margal Inn Pty Ltd was unfortunately attacked by arsons. The owners finally decided to re-develop the shop with much of the local stone and call it Edinburgh Cellars.
The Edinburgh Cellars were officially opened on the 8th of December 1991, by the Mayor of Mitcham, Lyndon Parnell. The Cellars were expanded again three years later and a large Cellar and extended drive through and cool room were added.
1869-74 Robert Nesbit
1879 Alfred Natch
1880 John Hill
1887-95 William Nesbit
1896 John McClucky
1897 Johanna Redman
1899-1900 David Cormack
1901-5 Sidney F.Swan
1906-8 Richard Paddock
1908 Adelaide Weeding
1908 Charles Ware
1910-11 David Sharp
1911 Harold Jones
1916-8 Elizabeth Bourke
1918-9 John Hare
1919-20 Henry Rischmueller
1920-1 E.A and R.W Wickens
1921-4 E.A Wickens
High Street - Mitcham Hotel, 1869 -1874
Photo taken in 1911
Edinburgh Hotel, trough being built, before 1911
Photo taken in 1920
Sketch done in 1973 by Pamela Oborn
Photo taken in 1980
Edinburgh Hotel, beer garden in 1980