Suspicious Fire Guts Historic Sydney Venue Causing ‘Significant Damage’
Some people will tell you it was the end of the historic Abercrombie Hotel two years ago when developers shut down the popular live music hangout, home of Sydney indie institution Purple Sneakers, while they embarked on a billion dollar redevelopment on the site.
But a suspicious fire that ripped through the pub last night really could spell the end to the pub, which recently reopened as a gastro disco diner.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, emergency services were called to the pub about 2.40am this morning and found the entire ground floor ablaze. Firefighters on the scene eventually got the fire under control but the ground floor was left with significant damage from the flames.
The upper levels of the pub were also damaged badly, with extensive smoke and water damage gutting the former local music stronghold.
Police have set up a crime scene and are treating the fire as suspicious, with a NSW Police spokeswoman saying that investigators are looking into the possibility the fire was connected to yesterday’s outbreak of bikie-related shootings.
Police who were on the scene recovered numerous gas bottles, fuel containers and a sledgehammer from the burnt out pub. THey are urging anyone who saw the fire or any strange activity near the hotel this morning to call Redfern Police or Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
The fire at the Abercrombie Hotel comes at a time of nationwide turmoil with live music venues, particularly in Melbourne including the East Brunswick Club which said goodbye last month, The Arthouse, and The Public Bar. Also in the last two years Brisbane has lost The Troubadour, Sydney has lost Low Bar, Tone Bar, the Gaelic, The Hopetoun, and of course, Abercrombie Hotel.
The original tenants of the pub were kicked out in 2009 after developers sought to build a gallery, park, and shops next to the pub. A separate development application was also lodged to build a massive 11 – 15 storey commercial building that would dwarf the heritage listed hotel.
”The hotel will close to facilitate construction of these proposed adjoining structures and streetscape improvements, and to allow for its refurbishment,” said the develop at the time. “Future uses of the Abercrombie Hotel may include a cafe, retail space or continuation as licensed premises.”
But the pub opened a year later with a Scottish theme serving a gastro-pub menu after an extensive refurbishment by high-profile publicans Jaime Wirth and James Miller, who also run old-school pubs Flinders, Carrington and Forresters.
It is unclear at this point how the fire will affect the development or the future of the Abercrombie Hotel.
On 23rd February 2010, the SLAM rally saw 20,000 people march through Melbourne to the tune of AC/DC’s definitive ‘Long Way to the Top’, in protest against the Victorian Government’s misguided policy link between live music and violence. Out on the streets of our city, we showed our support and love for a truly great live music community. The SLAM rally was the largest cultural protest in Australia’s history. Now all of Australia has the opportunity to participate in a national event that celebrates our local musicians in our small venues.
Thursday 23rd February 2012, is National SLAM Day and a huge number of gigs are being held around the country to support local artists and venues. You can see a ful gig guide here of the day here. To celebrate our friends at SLAM have got together some of Australia's best musicians and asked them through a series of speech bubble photos what live music in small venues means to them.
Check out their answers on the following pages, and on Thursday help support the industry by getting out and experiencing the spontaneous excitement and intimacy you only get at a small venue. Watch this slideshow »