**Australian pubs can have odd names, the term \Friend in Hand refers to a horse under reins\.**
John Harding was the licensee for about ten years. A golfer who later shot three holes-in-one, and a spearfisherman with his own dive boat, but took holidays on the Great Barrier Reef and The Coral Sea.
All during an era when the inner Sydney city suburb of Glebe was home to fruit barrowmen and waterside workers – a few forced to be petty criminals in order to make gambling ends meet. Stolen goods were often sold out of the back of a car outside. Lobsters were raffled in the bar, along with frozen chooks on Friday pay day. An SP bookie operated in the lane almost next door off Cowper Street with a ‘cockatoo’ on watch.
One night, after a busy weekend, thieves forced-open the doors downstairs and took off with the safe believing it contained heaps more cash than a usual.
The takings that weekend were **not in the safe** downstairs but **under John’s mattress **upstairs. He knew his patrons well.
Next week the police found the \blown-open safe\ in the sand hills near Kurnell and returned it. The safe had only contained twenty pounds ($40) worth of pennies and half-pennies. The thieves were so pissed off they left the copper coins and bolted.
Picture shows John inspecting the returned safe and coins, some bent by the blast. The crooks must have felt pretty silly. It was rumoured \Safecracker Bob\ was ‘in’ on the job.
APRIL 5: email from current owners of Friend in Hand Hotel (58 Cowper St Glebe NSW) re the above story:
Thanks for the story
I’ll try and find a place on the wall