The Rising Sun Inn first operated in 1846. The building has a diverse history, having been used as an inn, a private residence and even a motorcycle factory. Today the Rising Sun Inn is a boutique restaurant and bar in the heart of Kensington.
William Beck left the Kensington Arms, which had opened in 1840, to take the new Rising Sun Inn in 1846. It was the third inn to be opened in Kensington. (The second inn, the Freemason’s Arms had closed about three years previously). He is believed to be the ‘black African’ who kept the only grog shanty in Kensington in the early 1840’s. The Rising Sun was later referred to as ‘Black Becks’.
In 1850 Beck began a regular cart service for passengers to Adelaide and his wife ran the inn. His cart was a one-horse, open spring dray carrying 6 passengers on each trip, with little comfort for one shilling each per journey. His service became very popular and many other drivers soon began to offer similar transport. Within a few years the Council found it necessary to appoint a special constable to organise the ‘cab rank’ and maintain order!
The Beck family was associated with the inn for its first twenty years. Harry Ingham who held the license in 1851 was the only intrusion. In the first Assessment for Kensington, 1853, the Rising Sun is described as “a public house of 9 rooms, wooden stable, sheds and garden”. Sarah Ann Beck, presumably Williams wife or widow obtained the license and ownership.
In the Assessment for 1858, the inn is shown as ”a public house of brick, 7 rooms, bar, kitchen, stables, sheds and garden”. A cellar is first mentioned in the 1864 Assessment. There were also stockyards on the property. In 1867 the inn passed to Alexander Beck and John Hambidge , a prominent Kensington resident, held the licence for part of 1868. Watercolours by Hambidge’s 4 artist daughters are held by the Art Gallery of S.A.
The Rising Sun was a popular stopping place for teamsters who worked between Adelaide and Crafers bringing string-bark poles down to the Plains for Roof shingles, fencing and scaffolding.
Edwin T. Smith (later Sir), a brewer of Kent Town, bought the property and the licence passed to Benjamin Morey, a Kensington resident. Samuel Heanes, who had established the boot shop by the bridge in Bridge St. in 1850, later married Morey’s daughter. Morey served as local councillor in 1863-64 & Samuel Heanes served from 1871-83. Smith immediately began additions to the inn, the most noticeable part being the area at the front enclosed within the shaped parapet wall. Morey held the licence until October 1878 & was followed by William Hamlin Fairley & John Paul Dunk in 1879, then Henry White Newlyn in 1880. Smith was a man of great taste and flair which was backed by considerable acumen. The inn was fitted with cedar joinery, which won great admiration.
When his new 2-storey hotel, on the corner of High Street, was completed, Smith transferred the name, the licence and Henry White Newlyn. The name ‘Rising Sun’ continued its connection with Kensington until 1919.
Following the transfer of license from the Rising Sun Inn to the Rising Sun Hotel in 1882, the inn was converted into three tenancies with Smith retaining ownership until 1913, when after more than thirty years of residential use, it was purchased by R P Tilbrook. It then functioned as a motorcycle factory from 1950-1972 where, evidently, the only South Australian produced motor-cycles were built.
The building lay derelict between 1972 and 1983.
It has been operating as a boutique restaurant and bar since 1983.