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Leyburn hotel marks 150th

AT THE START: The view of the Royal Hotel in the late 1800s. The building was completed for James Murray in 1863. The bricks were formed from clay found on the banks of Canal Creek.
AT THE START: The view of the Royal Hotel in the late 1800s. The building was completed for James Murray in 1863. The bricks were formed from clay found on the banks of Canal Creek.

INTEMPERANCE killed the first publican of the longstanding Royal Hotel in Leyburn just six months after the bar opened back in 1863.

According to local folklore James Murray bought the land for the hotel in the late 1850s, just a few years after the site for the Leyburn township was surveyed in 1852.

He then had the hotel built in 1863 to take advantage of the gold rush, which swept through the area until 1872.

But what really sells this place is the history; it is a pub with a lot of visual appeal and it's stood the test of time.

Unfortunately, though, Mr Murray was not around to see his pub become a popular establishment.

He died within six months of the hotel opening from "intemperance", a Victorian-sounding ailment, which in effect means he succumbed to the effects of excessive consumption of alcohol.

However his short-lived reign behind the bar was not indicative of the future of the Royal. The brick building in McIntyre St survived the test of time, unlike its five competitors, which burnt down or closed down in the years leading up to the turn of the century.

This month the Royal Hotel celebrates 150 years of continuous service, earning it a place in the Queensland record books.

And licensees Shane Webcke and Craig Cumerford are both confident the popular watering hotel has the credentials to continue for decades to come.

Mr Cumerford, who has 30 years of experience operating rural and regional hotels, said the Leyburn pub was well positioned to build on its existing customer base.

"There are 400,000 people living with an hour-and-a-half of this pub," Mr Cumerford said.

"If you look at a region from Toowoomba, Highfields, Dalby, Gatton, Inglewood, Warwick, Texas, Millmerran and all the places in between, there is a significant population base we can draw from.

"So we are well positioned to attract the great number of people, who are willing to drive for that small country town experience."

Mr Cumerford said the appeal of the Royal Hotel was its quality facilities combined with its rural location.

"We have taken out the poker machines and the TAB, extended the cover over the beer garden and put in a kids' room," Mr Cumerford said.

"The bottom line is we want this to be a family pub with a focus on great food and service.

"But what really sells this place is the history; it is a pub with a lot of visual appeal and it's stood the test of time.

"So, yes, I think it will be here for a long time to come."

TODAY: The Royal Hotel is still standing on McIntyre St, Leyburn after 150 years.
TODAY: The Royal Hotel is still standing on McIntyre St, Leyburn after 150 years. Contributed
EARLIER ON: In 1933 the shingled roof had been replaced by corrugated iron and a store and petrol pump had been added.
EARLIER ON: In 1933 the shingled roof had been replaced by corrugated iron and a store and petrol pump had been added.
LOOKING BACK: In 1962 the facade was replaced by the older style verandas. The Kowitz brothers, who owned the hotel, also had the sawmill at the time and carried out this work. The National Bank Agency was also part of the complex at this time.
LOOKING BACK: In 1962 the facade was replaced by the older style verandas. The Kowitz brothers, who owned the hotel, also had the sawmill at the time and carried out this work. The National Bank Agency was also part of the complex at this time.

Topics:  history hotel


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