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Alfred Toogood, Publican, Sydney, New South Wales

By Museums Victoria    |   Wednesday, 1 January 2020

Alfred Toogood of Sydney issued penny tokens in 1855. He was listed as the publican at the Rainbow Tavern between 1855 and 1867. For the first listing his address was 76 Pitt Street. In the following year and for the majority of this period his address was the corner of Pitt and King Streets. In 1866 his address was given as 104 King Street, with stores at 52 York Street. Both the Sands Directory of Sydney for 1867, and Samson's National Directory of New South Wales, showed the tavern's address for 1867 - 1868 to be 223 Pitt Street.

Alfred Toogood - Publican
Alfred Toogood - 1 penny

Toogood was evidently a well regarded member of his community. In 1857 he was nominated as a candidate for the Cook ward of the Sydney Council. In an advertisement (The Sydney Morning Herald, Wednesday 29 April 1857, p. 1) supporting his candidacy, a supporter wrote:

Electors of Cook Ward - Vote for Alfred Toogood. Be not deceived - he has no intention of leaving the colony - his property here is too large to be left unprotected.

During 1861, Toogood placed a number of advertisements in The Sydney Morning Herald. It appears that the Rainbow Tavern was an entertainment venue, as well as offering accommodation and meals. Toogood regularly advertised the performers and their acts in the Herald, alongside. On 6 April 1861, 6 advertisements, one below the other, described forthcoming acts and entertainments.

As these advertisements do not give the address of the 'Grand Concert Hall', it is not possible to be certain that the Toogood in question was Alfred, or that it was located at the corner of Pitt and King Streets, with the Rainbow Tavern. The entries in Sands' Sydney directories for 1861 and 1863 (the directory was not published in 1862) list Alfred as the only Toogood in Sydney, and the Rainbow Tavern as his only address. The lack of any evidence against the Rainbow Tavern being the site of the 'Grand Concert Hall' suggests that they were the same place.

On 9 May 1861, Toogood placed an advertisement headed "TO LET, THE RAINBOW TAVERN," which described the current state of the business, and looked at its history. The text states that the Rainbow Tavern had been in operation for 26 years (since 1845), and that it was currently 'doing upwards of 800 [pounds] per month'. Previous lessors were named as having been offered substantial sums to buy out their leases in 1857 and 1859. Toogood was listed as the publican at the Rainbow in both these years, so it would seem that being named in the directory is more an indicator of ownership than day-to-day management of the business.

The advertisement dwelt on the tavern's most important trade, food and drink. 'The coffee and luncheon rooms are attended daily by hundreds...The Bar and other branches of the business will speak for themselves, by the weekly accounts which are properly kept.' It also referred to the 'The Wine Vaults, which are built underneath the street, at enormous cost, were built expressly for the maturing of wines...from my own experience in the wine trade, will ripen and bring forward wines fit for use in less than one-half the time than what is allowed in any wine vaults in London,' with proper handling.

It seems that the large trade in luncheons mentioned above was indeed lucrative, as the following day (10 May, 1861) Toogood advertised for "Tenders...required for settee fittings for an extra luncheon room. Apply A. Toogood." Immediately below that was another advertisement in which he invited 'TENDERS...for general repairs of house in York-street,' indicating that he was (or believed he was) in a position to undertake a number of capital investment projects at once.

Toogood died in May 1867 at his Rainbow Tavern. The tavern was sold to champion scullers Punch & McGrath.

Toogood's tokens were struck by W.J. Taylor of London.

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