Bands mourn death of Oxford Tavern

By Matthew Jones
Updated November 6 2012 - 12:35am, first published July 22 2010 - 11:16am
Local musicians and bands gathered at the Oxford Tavern yesterday in a show of solidarity and sadness that the live music pub has closed. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON
Local musicians and bands gathered at the Oxford Tavern yesterday in a show of solidarity and sadness that the live music pub has closed. Picture: KEN ROBERTSON

The Oxford Tavern’s promoters have been directed to cancel all future gigs after the Wollongong hotel’s management advised the venue had been closed for good.Darren McDermott, of Atomic Drop Entertainment, said he was in the process of contacting at least 100 bands that had gigs booked at the pub over the next three months.Mr McDermott said he received a call on Tuesday night directing him, initially, to cancel events only for this week.

  • VOTE IN POLL: Are you sad to see the end of the Oxford Tavern? When friends told him the hotel had been boarded up, he attempted - unsuccessfully - to contact the Kosseris family which was managing the tavern.‘‘The manager just wouldn’t take my phone calls, wouldn’t return texts, so I didn’t know what was going on,’’ Mr McDermott said yesterday. ‘‘I only just finally got her to send me a text back this morning. She just wrote back and said: ‘yes, cancel everything, not reopening’.’’Disappointed pub patrons and live music fans are planning a wake for the Oxford.The hotel, which opened in 1845 as Elliots Family Hotel, shut on Tuesday after the receivers in control of the Belmorgan company that owns the site terminated the lease to tavern operator First Financial Pty Ltd.First Financial took over the business in December 2008 when former tavern owner, Wollongong City Plaza Pty Ltd, was placed into the hands of receivers McGrathNicol.The reasons for the lease being terminated remained unclear yesterday, with McGrathNicol telling the Mercury it was unable to comment.Wollongong City Plaza, which had a liquidator appointed in May last year, still owns the hotel site and building.The Oxford Tavern, the nearby former Dwyers car yard site and Salvation Army headquarters all are part of the site proposed for the $160 million Gravity retail, entertainment and hotel complex.The NSW Department of Planning has not yet approved that project.Anthony Kosseris, the hotel’s licensee, was a former director of Wollongong City Plaza, one of a number of Belmorgan companies in receivership or liquidation.Mr Kosseris and First Financial director Emanuel Cassimatis did not return the Mercury’s calls yesterday.At least a dozen bands had been booked to play the Oxford this month, with more than 100 booked to play between now and October.The venue’s unexpected demise has sent shockwaves through the city’s music community.On the social network site Facebook, a tribute page, dubbed ‘‘R.I.P. Oxford Tavern’’, attracted more than 625 members in less than 24 hours.Mourners also set up a Facebook event, ‘‘Wake for the Oxford Tavern’’, and plan to gather over the weekend to farewell the popular watering hole. More than 130 people logged that they would attend the event, with a similar number responding that they might attend.Jason Fenwick, one of the event organisers, warned that Wollongong’s live music scene would take a ‘‘massive hit’’ because of the closure. ‘‘So many up and coming bands that would have got their chance to cut their teeth, have now lost that opportunity,’’ he said.
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