Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Royal George Hotel

We've previously looked at the Empire Hotel on the corner of Ann and Brunswick Sts in the Valley, and there is an even older hotel right across the road. On the south-western corner of Ann St is a site that has had a hotel on it since 1850, nine years before Queensland's separation from New South Wales. It has had a long and chequered history. In its earliest form it was known as the Bush and Commercial Inn, then the licence changed hands and the hotel became known as the Freemasons Arms. It was then rebuilt (or at least renovated) as the Lamb Inn, and in 1863 was renamed the Royal George by its new licensee George Dickens. Dickens became ill, and advertised in July 1864 for a new licensee, describing the hotel thus: "The Royal George Hotel fronting Ann and Brunswick Streets Fortitude Valley. Comprising 18 rooms, out houses, good stabling, spacious yard, and capital cellar. The above is a corner allotment fronting Ann Street being the main road to Breakfast Creek, Eagle Farm, German Station, Bald Hills, Sandgate, and Pine River with a frontage to Brunswick Street leading to Bowen Bridge, Kedron Brook & c. The House is an old established one, and doing a good business, and the proprietor's reason for relinquishing business is on account of ill health in his family ..."
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1888)

The photograph above dates from 1876 according to John Oxley Library. The date in the lower right corner is 1854, which probably indicates the date of the construction of the hotel in this form. By the time this photograph was made a second storey had been added, the property was owned by the Church of England and the licensee was William Ruddle. Ruddle purchased the property from the church in 1885, and engaged prominent architect FDG Stanley to carry out some renovations. Stanley removed and replaced the roof, extended the hotel along the Brunswick St side, constructed a cellar, and added some verandahs around the building. The hotel would remain like this through to the 1960s, and the photograph below was taken in 1939, in which the hotel looks quite prosperous.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #1889)

In 1901, Robin Dods was engaged by Ruddle to design the gabled two-storey building next door on Brunswick St known as Ruddle's Building, and that also remains today.
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Further changes in ownership have followed over the years, and this has also meant more changes to the structure itself. In the sixties, the verandahs were removed (it seemed to be a common theme of that decade - perhaps to do with the introduction of commercial air-conditioning?). My recent photo (above) shows the old girl today. Part of the Valley's thriving night life, it has an outdoor bar area in the Brunswick St Mall which seems to attract a lot of back-packers. Unfortunately though, it doesn't retain the ambiance of yesteryear.

Click here for a Google Map.

tff

Next: Adelaide House

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