For many years the Palais Royal Hotel stood as an imposing building on the south-west corner of Brisbane and East Streets and was one of Ipswich’s larger hotels. Originally built in 1859, it was to be demolished more than one hundred years later, in 1970, to make way for the Ipswich Tavern.
The Palais Royal Hotel stood opposite the earlier Queen Arms Hotel, which was owned by prominent Ipswich merchant and pioneer, George Thorn, and was Ipswich’s first licensed hotel. The Thorn family’s own residence may actually have existed on the Palais Royal Hotel site prior to the hotel’s initial construction in 1859, but this has yet to be confirmed. Records indicate that the hotel’s first licensee under the actual name Palais Royal Hotel was J. McGill in 1879.
This photograph shows the hotel in 1954, dominating the streetscape. Earlier images show that the building underwent significant changes throughout its life, including the partial closing in of its distinctive wide balconies. This image also shows the addition of a large and impressive neon sign, which would have added significantly to the hotel’s presence in this part of the city. One wonders if this sign was preserved, following the building’s demolition?
With the construction of the Ipswich Tavern, the continuity of the site as a hotel or licensed premises for some 153 years, which is as long as Queensland itself, is itself worthy of historical note.
Brian Randall – Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland