Further to my blog of 5th September, I was fortunate to be contacted by Ellen Hill, Communications Consultant from the Escarpment Group who has just sent me a large amount of information and photos of the Hydro Majestic since its recent renovation, four images of which I have included here. I must say that they exceed all my expectations, and are in keeping with the original specifications of the outrageously over-the-top design of its creator, Mark Foy.
However, for historians such as me, it’s the hotel’s guests who breathe life into its buildings. Its famous visitors have been well documented: opera singers Dame Nellie Melba and Dame Clara Butt; munitions heiress Bertha Krupp, who donated a Bechstein grand piano to the hotel; Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, author of Sherlock Holmes, for whom the Blue Mountains were the inspiration for ‘The Lost World’; and more recently, Russell Crowe who was asked to remove his baseball cap while dining in the Great Dining Hall in 1994; boxer Tommy Burns who set up a training camp at the Hydro Majestic ahead of his world title fight against Jack Johnson in Sydney in 1908, running for miles on mountain tracks in preparation; and, perhaps best known, Australia’s former first Prime Minister, Sir Edmund Barton – he had retired from politics and was then a justice of the High Court – who died of a heart attack at the hotel while holidaying there in 1920.
But there must have been countless other interesting guests over the last century: honeymooners, health enthusiasts, wealthy Sydney businessmen enjoying a lost weekend, and just ordinary people. It’s their stories that I would like to collect, so if you know of any, please let me know!