The present hotel replaced an earlier brick and stone structure in 1883.
The building was designed by Daniel Garlick and built by W. Barker for Mrs Frances Badman. A former licensee of the Earl of Zetland Hotel, she owned it from 1876 to 1899.
Garlick called for tenders on August 3, 1882, and the hotel was completed in September 1883 “to cater for the tastes of the better classes”. It makes florid use of stucco contrasting with bush-hammered squared sandstone masonry, illustrating the designs of Garlick at their ebullient best.
The Newmarket is one of the most developed examples of the Adelaide pub style. It was described as the “nearest approach to a first-class American hotel of any. .. seen in Australia”. The South Australian Register of July 17, 1883, put it as follows: “The old building was a relic of the past primitive days but the new one means luxury and progress. .. The building has three floors, besides cellarage with 48 rooms in all. .. Altogether the hotel is a fine example of the wide gap existing between Adelaide of 1850 and Adelaide of 1883.”
The workmanship, especially in the spiral staircase, is of the first order. Internally, rooms have since been opened and major internal fittings on the ground floor have been lost. Externally, the hotel is remarkably intact, with low-scale additions to North and West terraces. The only major change to the main facades has been the removal of the second-floor balcony.
One owner of the hotel achieved great notoriety. Albert Augustine Edwards or Bert Edwards, “King of the West End”, owned the Newmarket from 1924-31. An illegitimate child whose father is believed to have been Sir Charles Cameron Kingston, Edwards was born on in 1888 in the west end of Adelaide and lived an extraordinarily unconventional life. Labor politician, publican, and alleged pederast, he was also noted for his charitable donations: “He never abandoned his commitment to the depressed community he grew up in.”
Edwards began his rocky but largely successful commercial life in the markets selling ice creams. In 1912 he bought tearooms in Compton Street and in 1914 was elected member of the Adelaide City Council. He was a popular secretary of the West Adelaide Football Club, and in 1915 bought his first hotel, the Duke of Brunswick. Later he operated several city and country hotels as well as the Newmarket.
In 1917 Edwards won the seat of Adelaide in state parliament, and when Labor won government in 1921 he became chief spokesman on prison reform. South Australia’s first probation system was formed as a result. On December 13, 1930, however, he was arrested, later tried for sodomy, and jailed for two-and-a-half years at Yatala Labour Prison.
The Newmarket Hotel figured in the trial, which had similarities with the trial of Oscar Wilde. Edwards could not return to the hotel after his release as a foreclosure order had been served during his imprisonment. This order enabled Arthur Green to purchase the Newmarket on August 20, 1931.
Edwards later returned to the Black Lion and survived other charges brought against him. In 1948, he won back his position on the council, the lord mayor commenting that “he has been elected and we must accept him with our backs to the wall”.
Edwards represented Grey Ward until his death in August 1963. He gave lavish financial support to the Australian Labor Party, and to local charities such as the Catholic Daughters of Charity, the St Vincent de Paul Society, St Luke’s Mission, the Salvation Army Men’s Home and the Baptist Mission in Wright Street. His estate of £46,000 was divided between the Sisters of St Joseph and the Adelaide City Council (for a footballers’ training room), and to give “happiness, education and opportunity of advancement in life to children who have been in an orphanage or a public or private institution for delinquent children”.
His funeral, one of the largest seen in Adelaide, was attended by the Catholic clergy, councillors and representatives of both political parties. A mantle of respectability had fallen over the one-time “King of the West End”. Edwards’ controversial life and notoriety and his considerable philanthropy give additional historical significance to the Newmarket.