The Grand Old Duke was built in 1856 and was Battery Point’s third hotel. The area already had two pubs at the time – the Prince of Wales (est. 1846) and the Shipwrights Arms (est. 1846) but there was demand for more. The suburb’s population was steadily increasing and there were plenty of thirsty workers from the numerous shipyards along the Battery Point foreshore (Salamanca).
Prentis originally applied to license his pub as the Patent Slip Hotel but discovered the name was already taken. He settled on the Duke of York instead. Prentis died shortly after in 1859 and his wife, Ann, took over the operation of the hotel. Working as a publican was one of the few occupations available to women at the time and Ann remained the licensee until her death in 1877.
After Ann’s death, the pub had a series of different landlords and its name was changed to the Exhibition Hotel in 1892. Just three years later it was forced to close down – the pub’s license had lapsed after the publican failed to apply for its annual renewal. When he later re-applied, the Licensing Court deemed there were too many pubs in the area and the Exhibition Hotel was no longer required.
The building subsequently served for many years as a boarding house. In more recent times it has been refurbished to provide four star luxury accommodation in the centre of Battery Point.
The Grand Old Duke survives in excellent condition and remains a fine example of Georgian style corner hotels.