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This highly readable book breaks new ground in creating a social history of an Australian pub over more than a century. Reputedly the smallest pub in Sydney, the Lord Wolseley was born in the industrial heart of Ultimo, close to the wool stores and wharves. It has survived under numerous licensees and the gentrification of Ultimo in recent decades. The life and times of the pub, the publicans and the patrons are skilfully documented and evoked with affection, but without descending into nostalgia.
Shirley Fitzgerald has a fine grasp of the Ultimo locality and the lives of the Sydney working class who drank at the Lord Wolseley over decades. She has crafted a history of not just the Lord Wolseley but its patrons as well as other pubs in the local neighbourhood which catered for thirsty drinkers. She has also researched the records of Tooth brewery, the long-time landlord of the pub. There are photos of the patrons and the local neighbourhood. Oral history, in the form of conversations at the pub, takes on significance. Even the cover, with its image of shattered glass, invites attention. Truly a homage to the almost lost culture of ‘just going for a drink at the pub’. The patronage of the current publican in commissioning this history is to be applauded.