Continue your journey along the Hinchinbrook Way Historical Walk, follow the links at the bottom of the page for more nearby locations or keep an eye out for QR codes!
Gracing the northern side of Lannercost Street, and witness to many important community decisions, celebrations and public events, lies the grand old dame, the Royal Hotel. It was the vision of hotelier couple, James and Mary Shewcroft who, in 1883, moved south from Cardwell to invest in the Lower Herbert Valley. The popular publican described Ingham as an opportunity too good to miss. ‘Money was literally shovelled into the district;’ adding “I don’t complain, I received a fair share of it’.
With a wrap-around veranda and easy access from the street, the hotel was large and well-furnished. Bench seats provided outdoor seating under the veranda and a hitching rail for the horses. A separate kitchen, stables, yardman's room, and chaff house were located at the rear. Weary travellers could kip for the night knowing their horse and buggies were secure.
The Shewcrofts ran the hotel for 19 years until in 1902 James died unexpectedly on a steamer as he travelled to Brisbane for specialist medical advice. His family were left well provided for as Shewcroft’s personal wealth was valued at £3100, ($446,782.01) and the realty, including the Royal Hotel, valued at £6600 ($951,213.32). This was a fortune in those days. The family kept the hotel until 1913 after which, they sold it to William Little. He ran for three years before he on sold it again to Mrs Davis from the Railway Refreshment Rooms, at Ravenswood Junction.
By the early 1920’s the Royal Hotel was forty years old and described as, “one of the oldest structural landmarks in Ingham”. However, it was time for a change and the Hotel was to be 'effaced from the public eye”.
New proprietors Messrs. Gollogly, Mulhall and Syrmies, engaged Townsville Architect Mr. J. G. Rooney who drew plans and specifications and placed tender notices for builders to demolish and rebuild the hotel. Local builder R. E. Vause secured the tender for £14,950 ($ 1,224,228.57). The new hotel was to include a bar, dining and refreshment rooms with retail shops on the ground floor with multiple rooms of accommodation upstairs. The new Royal Hotel resonated architectural modernity of the 1920s with its modern façade, minimalist decorative elements and rendered brick parapet. The retail space was leased out to the Irish born Duffy Brothers who ran a Mercer’s and Clothing store in the same shop for forty years.
In 1939, the Royal Hotel was purchased by Theresa Mullins. She was an astute businesswoman who catered to all her clientele. She ran the hotel throughout the 1940s and served drinks to all who came through the doors, including both Australian and American Allied servicemen during the World War Two. In 1953, she travelled to England and Ireland with her three daughters for a two-year sojourn. On her return she ran the hotel for a further four years before she sold it to the Quagliotto family. By then she had run the hotel for nearly twenty years.
Since then, the Quagliotto family have become the longest owner proprietors of the Royal Hotel running it now for over sixty years.
Take a moment to step inside, and enjoy the service of the Grand old Dame of Ingham. You are sure to feel at home!
Images provided by the Ingham Family History Photographic Collection.