history of the queensberry
A quarter acre allotment on the corner of Swanston Street [then known as Madeline Street] and Queensberry Street, just north of the yards of Mac's Hotel, was purchased by Mr. J. Sim in 1852 with tenders sought for construction of a hotel on the allotment by James Blackburn Jnr in 1853. The first license for the hotel was granted in late 1853 to William Hoppie with trade commencing in 1854.
The original Queensberry Hotel - was made of iron and comprised of 14 rooms, public bar, cellar and horse stabling. It was one of the very first buildings in the area. Little did they know at the time, the Queensberry would become one of the most strategic hotels in Melbourne when years later, the Carlton United Brewery opened next door to the hotel. The brewery would trade at that site from 1864 until 1987.
The current ‘Swanston Bar’ on Swanston Street was originally a separate wood and metal store operated by the landlord, Mr Sims.
in February 1870 the hotel was sold to Mr Patrick Fagan. Mr Fagan operated the hotel for some 20 years until 1890, when permits were granted for the iron building to be demolished and for the current hotel building to commence construction. The new hotel was designed by Tappin, Gilbert & Dennehy and built by Mr Haorey of Faraday Street, Carlton (also the builders of RMIT Storey Hall). The new hotel building comprised 2 separate sections. A shop front at 77 Madeline Street (now the ‘Swanston Bar’) and the Hotel at 79 Madeline Street. The shop survived until the mid 1920’s when the wall was removed & additional single story sections were added to the rear of the hotel.
The hotel remained in the Fagan/Clarke family’s control for 100 years under Patrick who died due to suicide in 1889 with Maurice Fagan taking it on after, followed by other family members, with it being sold in 1966. The Fagan and Clarke names are still displayed on the exterior roof line of the hotel.
While our address is no longer 77 Madeline Street, we haven't moved. Madeline Street became Swanston Street and our address subsequently changed to 593 Swanston Street. The hotel has stayed largely true to its roots with the exterior still very much intact and many original features still in use today. Renovations occurred in 1970 and again in 2018 to the interior of the hotel.
The hotel is family owned and protected by heritage controls, ensuring it is here for many years to come!
1853 - William Hoppie
1856 - E J Prevot
1859 - Lachlan Robertson
1860 - Thomas Emmerson
1862 - Kyle Archibald
1865 - Oriel Lee
1867 - Anne Bultitude
1886 - J Harrigan (wounded in mid 1886 resulting in a lengthy prison term for the offender - a 15 year old boy - Mr Harris)
1870 - Patrick Fagan ( unfortunately died by suicide in the Yarra River in 1889)
1890 - Maurice Fagan
1891 - Michael Harvey
1899 - Mr Hugh Chisholm (while attempting to find a gas leak at the hotel, Mr Chisholm struck a match causing a considerable explosion in June 1899. Parts of the hotel would be rebuilt to repair the damage)
1900 - Bridget Roulet
1901 - Thomas Evans
1902 - Harry Baxter
1903 - William Henry
1904 - Marion Thompson (interesting fact: when visited by Police for a licensing check in 1904, Ms Thompson pulled a revolver out and attacked police - resulting in a battle that lasted some hours. Charges & fines then followed for Ms Thompson & 3 staff of the hotel. In 1905, 2 prison escapees would attempt to hide out at the hotel and upon being confronted by Ms Thompson, she was violently attacked as were many patrons. Ms Thompson fought back and the escapees were arrested and rejailed immediately.)
1931 - Vera Clarke
1938 - Arthur Leslie Clarke
1947 - Vera Clarke
1999 - Toohey's / Lion Nathan
2008 - Present - Anne Barrett Venn & Trav Venn
Sources: Carlton Community History Group, Trove, Melbourne City Council, Carlton United Breweries, The Age, Victorian Heritage Council, Len Weigh & Todd Gawn