The Kentish Arms Hotel, in common with many other hotels in Adelaide, was rebuilt in the boom period of the early 1880s. The site is part of John Barton Hack’s subdivision of 1839, which is still characterised by small cottages on the original narrow allotments. The scale and style of this second hotel on the site demonstrates the increased desirability of this area, and the ongoing importance of corner hotels and shops to residential communities of the 19th century.
The site was purchased in 1848 by John Collard Cocker, who opened a hotel soon afterwards. For more than 70 years the hotel was linked to the Cocker family, until it was sold in1920.
Cocker, born in Hollingborn, Kent, in 1815, played cricket from a young age, appearing in English matches at prominent grounds such as Lords and gaining a considerable reputation as a bowler. When he arrived in South Australia he formed the Kent and Sussex Cricket Club. Cocker’s enthusiasm for the game was not restricted by his duties as a publican, the nearby flat expanse of Mann Terrace proving an ideal cricket pitch. His reputation for sponsoring and inspiring interest in the game was so great that he was entrusted with the preparation of the first wicket at the Adelaide Oval, subsequent to a lease being granted in 1872 to the newly formed South Australian Cricket Association. Cocker remained a prominent figure in South Australian cricket until his death in 1885.
The hotel was rebuilt in 1881 to the design of architects Hamilton and Campbell. Constructed of squared sandstone with stuccoed dressings, it is distinctive feature of Stanley Street, and departs from the more typical bluestone and stucco combination. The masonry arcade is unusual in Adelaide, giving substance to the building when a cast-iron column-supported balcony could have been used. The combination of delicate cast-iron and robust stuccoed detail, although quite typical, is used here in more structural form. The hotel remains in a good condition, its high quality evident because of the architect's attention to detail and the durability of its external finishes.