George IV Inn’s convict history on show

Hidden treasure: George IV employee Brian Bronson next to the glass panel which reveals the underground convict hold. Picture: Simon Bennett

Hidden treasure: George IV employee Brian Bronson next to the glass panel which reveals the underground convict hold. Picture: Simon Bennett

Lying beneath the floors of one of Picton’s most iconic locations is a hidden treasure, undiscovered for years.

The storms that swept through Picton last year caused havoc for George IV Inn, which was extensively damaged and eventually sold on to new owners Ross Robinson and Adam Cryer.

However, there was an unexpected upside to the massive renovation effort at the much-loved pub – the discovery of several historic artifacts and, most startling of all, a convict hold.

Mr Robinson said the pub was believed to have served as a temporary prisoner hold in the mid-1800s, around the time of its construction, and there were stories of highwaymen, convicts and more.

“We inherited quite a bit of history from the former owners when we took over,” the co-owner said.

“We’re still working through it but we plan on including a lot of that history in our next stage.”

The convict hold, which can be seen through glass panelling a few steps from the front door, lies through the cellar and is not accessible to the public.

Mr Robinson said the owners intended to install a plaque detailing some of the pub’s long history next to the glass panel.

Mr Cryer said there were plenty of plans to show off the long life of the George in the coming months.

“One of the things recovered during the renovations was an World War II era newspaper which was in really great condition,” he said.

“One of the stories read ‘45 people lost at sea’. That’s something we want to have framed and put on display.”

Other bits and pieces including shackles were recovered as the George was restored to its former glory.

However, one prevailing mystery could not be proven.

“There were a lot of myths about secret tunnels running from underneath the George,” Mr Robinson said.

“I don’t know if they weren’t there or they were bricked over, but we couldn’t find them.”

He said they also plan on featuring some information on the pub’s past owners throughout its history.

Mr Cryer said there had been a great response from the club’s patrons.

He said new visitors were impressed by the history of the establishment, while seasoned pubgoers were thrilled to see it succeeding.

“We had one man come in, a coin collector, who had these King George IV coins,” he said.

“He gave them to us because he thought more people would see them here than tucked away in his store.”

Mr Cryer said the second stage of the George’s development application – featuring further extensions to allow for even more family-friendly dining – had been lodged with Wollondilly Council.