History of the Royal Hotel, Ingham

History of the Royal Hotel, Ingham

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.

In October of 1959, Gabri & Pina Quagliotto outright purchased the Royal, after having run the nearby Noorla Hotel for a few years beforehand. By now the old pub was starting to age and look tired, they set about refurbishing the hotel and adding a function centre at the rear of the hotel. While Gabri still owned and operated the local iceworks, Pina ran the hotel with an iron fist, with a focus on high class catering and weddings. There would barely be a weekend where a wedding was not hosted at the Royal.

Over the next six decades, many second and even three generations would celebrate their wedding receptions at the Royal. The function centre would also play host to numerous celebrations – anniversaries, birthday parties, afternoon teas  -the list goes on. It was a family affair, with son’s Alan and Dennis also helping their parents out in the hotel, and over the years, no fewer than five generations of the family have worked in the hotel over the years.

Pina retired in 2006, and today Alan and wife Sharyn still own and operate the hotel today.

In recent years, the hotel has been recognized for its hospitality, having won “Best Wedding Venue – Boutique Hotel” North Queensland Region in the Australian Wedding Awards in 2018, 2019, and 2021. Also in 2021, that recognition went to a national level – taking out the ‘Australian Wedding Venue – Boutique Hotel’ for 2021.

Take a moment to step inside, and enjoy the service of the Grand old Dame of Ingham. You are sure to feel at home!


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