The Harp of Erin


Harp of Erin Inn

Built 100 acres granted to Michael Flanagan in 1831  to service the overseers and military working on the road down Mt Victoria Pass ion the corner of Cox river Road and the Great Western Highway to co-incide with the opening of the Mt Victoria Pass  and is the oldest remaining brick building west of Mount Victoria.   


The Inn was first licensed in 13th February 1832 to Michael Flanagan who had worked for Govenor King’s family at South Creek. However, soon after opening it had its licensed revoked and Andrew Gardiner then took up the license in 1836 who renamed it the Plough Inn. It was then bought by George Jarvis. By 1861 George Jarvis  was a very successful storekeeper, landholder and mortgagee for 9 hotels as well as the Harp of Erin

Michael Flanagan had been working on Harriet King's property, (whose husband was the son of Gov King who was the 3rd Governor of New South Wales)

The property was down at Castlereagh and the Flanagan's  were held in in high regard  by the King Family and with the authorities. 

 It appears that once the new building over the road -Rose Inn was completed, then Michael decided that he would pursue his fortune a little further out west, and the property then changed hands to Andrew Gardiner.   The Collits were well connected from Castlereagh  and maintained good patronage. 

According to P.M.G. records, at its closure in 1975, this was the oldest Post Office in continual operation in Australia.

It was first established in 1857 by George Jarvis who was paid twelve pounds per annum as Postmaster.  On his death in September 1867 he was succeeded by his widow Elizabeth. 
In April, 1870 she became Mrs. William Lewington and he was appointed Postmaster in May 1870.The 'money order' system had been extended to Little Hartley prior to 1868, and in that year 274 orders, worth 1325 pounds and 2 shillings were issued.
Because of ill health, the Lewingtons gave up the Post Office.  In September 1882 Dunlop and Lindsay, store keepers of Lithgow, opened a branch at Little Hartley, putting in Mr. F.H. Archer as manager. 
He was appointed Postmaster in October 1882.
The stores next owner, Mr. Henry Williams, became Postmaster on December 5th 1882. A telephone office was opened in September of 1898 and a 'public' telephone was installed in 1912 in which year Henry Williams drew an annual Postmaster's salary of thirty pounds.
By the 1880's, as a Post Office and General Store, the shop had a large local and passing trade.  It remained in the Williams family until its closure in 1975.
Descendants of the family tell of a childhood spent amount rolls of silk, top hats, dingo traps and the pervading odors of bacon and cheese.  Teamsters with 'leaking' barrels of beer would call in to stock up before their arduous journey 'up the pass'.
typical bullock team travelling the roads.
Regular trading hours were unknown in those days and Henry often took 100 pounds before breakfast.
There are still residents of Hartley that recall visiting the store in their early years.
The original store building was wattle and daub, and stood only 6 feet high. It was replaced after the closure of the shale mines at Hartley Vale.

The present structure, dating to about 1860, is built of Australian cedar and was brought from Hartley Vale where it was known as Balmains Store.

Attached to the Harp of Erin, is a building   which was constructed in the late 1820'sand  it has been completely re-built on its present site.





Williams Store & Harp Of Erin are classified in the National Trust Register and on the National Heritage Commission data base.


The large sandstone flooring to the entry of the Harp of Erin.

The Harp of Erin  was built in several stages.  The initial construction was wattle and daub and has long been removed. It was then constructed of handmade, sun-dried clay bricks and lime-rendered to protect against erosion.  One brick structure consists of small rooms with a verandah connecting it to a larger brick structure of four rooms.  The verandah has been filled in to put all rooms under the one roof. The timber throughout is Australian cedar and many of the windows still hold the original hand made glass.

One of the rooms have remarkable floors of cedar which are12 inches wide.

 George Jarvis died on 13th September 1867 and 3 years later  Elizabeth  married William Lewington in 1870. George Jarvis died on 13th September 1867 and Elizabeth  married  3 years later to William Lewington in 1870 but then  William Lewington  died in 1883


Elizabeth then moved in with his bother George P Lewington into the Old Rose Inn which by this stage had been closed as an inn for the last 10 years. Elizabeth Lewington sold the “Harp” in 1883 to  Henry Williams upon the death of her husband William.


Henry Williams operated the old inn as a General Store and Post Office until it closed in 1975. The Williams  had moved their Balmain Store from Hartley Vale when the shale mines closed and rebuilt  it on the site of the Harp of Erin replacing the earlier wattle and daub part of the structure. (Henry Williams the storekeeper lost it to Henry Williams the tailor of Lithgow  in a card game???-Romancing the Inns

Today some of the original shingles still remain under the corrugated iron roof and the building operates as a delightful gallery  in the original Harp of Erin Inn buildings and a real estate office in the Williams Store.

In 1879 a timber building  located at Hartley Vale was relocated onto the western end of the Inn and opened as a store. 

Cnr Gt Western Highway and Coxs River Rd, Little Hartley