Parkville’s Naughtons Hotel celebrates 150 years as a community institution

Brendan Rees

Naughtons Hotel, a historic landmark in Parkville, is celebrating a milestone 150th anniversary since opening its doors in 1873.

The iconic Royal Parade venue at the corner of Morrah St, which is known for its cosy atmosphere and friendly staff, has been a beloved part of the community for decades, and a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

Originally established as the Port Phillip Agricultural Hotel with a corner bar and stables and a small vegetable garden out the back – as it was a popular route to the local livestock markets at the northern end of the city, Naughton’s has evolved to become an institution.

Today, it has notched up a remarkable 150 years of serving the community, a milestone celebrated on March 14.

“It’s pretty special, I don’t know that there are too many pubs in Melbourne that have been continuously trading for 150 years and we just feel very lucky to be a part of this place; to be the current custodians and to be serving the community,” Naughtons Hotel joint-owner Ryan Moses said.

The hotel has been a favourite for many over the decades, including Carlton Blues fans who remember fondly of the time Carlton great Stephen Kernahan attended the venue and famously belted out Stand By Your Man on the Monday after the 1987 Grand Final.

Mr Moses and his team have been running the hotel since 2016, and overseeing the building’s third major renovation in its history while still retaining its charm and offering a family-friendly environment.

“It’s very much about traditional techniques, so we bake bread, we make our own pasta, we butcher our meat, we make cheese, we do things from scratch; it’s that kind of idea of quality and handmade,” Mr Moses said, adding all fresh produce was sourced from Australian farmers.

Of course, there are beers on tap with a variety of Victorian craft brews, and Carlton Draught for the no-fuss drinker.

The hotel’s current management has re-positioned the building into an upmarket food venue; combining the bar and bottle shop; adding a function space; and transforming the upstairs hotel rooms into five-star luxury accommodation spaces to keep up with the times.

Mr Moses said plans to celebrate the hotel’s 150th anniversary was still being prepared, but a memorable event would likely be held in October in conjunction with the Parkville Association.

Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece, a local patron of the hotel, said “there is something very special about Naughtons”.

“When I think of the quintessential Melbourne pub I think of Naughtons, a charming heritage building, the cosy interior, the modern pub fare, all located among the beautiful surrounds of Royal Parade and Parkville,” he said.

“For 150 years it has been a favourite watering hole for students, academics, medical workers, Parkville locals and all Melburnians, long may it continue. In recent times it has gone through a bit of a refresh, and I am delighted to say it continues to go from strength to strength. Three cheers for Naughtons.”

Mr Reece added, “I can’t think of a venue that captures the Melbourne heritage pub mystique better than Naughtons.”

Naughtons Hotel is recognised as one the oldest hotels in Melbourne. Until 2006, only two families had ever owned the pub.

Charles Reis, the grandson of JB Naughton, who bought the pub in 1924, said he lived in the hotel as a child, and often told people, “that I learnt to pour a beer before I learnt to ride a bike”.

Mr Reis has kept a record of the hotel’s history as well as a collection of photos which he generously shared with Inner City News. •

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