Opening Celebration Weekend August 31 – September 2
On Friday August 31, after 18 months of careful post-flood restoration, the mighty Regatta Hotel on Coronation Drive in Toowong will officially reclaim the title of the Grand Lady of the Brisbane River, kicking off a three-day reopening weekend celebration.
Following a very careful $10million restoration program following the devastating January 2011 Floods, this hotel, the site of 138 years of history, will throw open her historic doors and welcome Brisbane to celebrate on her cast iron-laced verandahs and amid her famous brick-worked walls.
The opening weekend will be the first time the hotel has completely opened to the general public all areas – The Front Bar, The Courtyard (new area), The Boatshed and The Cellar Bar, Street Café and Gaming Room. Unveiled will be the seamless merging of a very sensitive heritage restoration of original architect Richard Gailey’s acclaimed craftsmanship, with exciting new design and functionality for The Boatshed and The Courtyard.
The Opening Weekend will feature complimentary tasting plates from Friday evening through to Sunday evening; guided tours of the hotel; a great music lineup; a live broadcast by B105’s Labby, Stav and Abby on Friday morning with The Veronicas playing live, a visit from Kath and Kim and much more. The hotel is producing dated, collector’s edition Regatta Hotel coasters to mark the weekend. Over the weekend a number of special visitors are expected to share in the celebrations. One name indelibly inked into the history annals of The Regatta Hotel is Merle Thornton, the women who on a warm afternoon on March 31, 1965, chained herself to the Public Bar as a stand against women not being allowed in this area of Queensland hotels. In doing so, she forever changed history.
“For almost 140 years Brisbane has met, mingled and created stories at The Regatta Hotel’s historic bars,” said Regatta Hotel Manager, Zoran Stojcevski, who began with the hotel the day after the floods hit and spent the first two weeks of his time covered in Brisbane River mud. “As a seasoned entertainer, The Regatta has had her feet wet more times than a patron has had a spill with the amber; but she wasn’t counting on gumboots and holding her breath as the sun rose over the floodwaters of Brisbane on the morning of January 13, 2011. Now, this lady is set to return; history has been rebuilt, setting the stage for a new era.”
The Regatta Hotel is one of Queensland’s most historic and famous pubs, standing sentinel over the Brisbane River. She is classified by the National Trust of Queensland, was entered in the Queensland Heritage Register in 1992 and is also on the Register of the National Estate of Australian Heritage Commission.
Brisbanites are invited to share in the celebrations and come see what’s new at the Regatta Hotel on opening weekend, and be part of the very start of this brand new chapter in the Hotel’s long and rich history. Regatta Hotel est. 1874: For every generation.
The Regatta - The Restoration
The Front Bar
All bi-fold external doors have been replaced with natural timber versions and the grand, original front-curved entry door has been crafted from scratch, returning its hotel corner to a genuine congruity –mirroring the decorative structure of its upper floors, and finally being true to Gailey’s original design scope. All of the internal walls have been painstakingly stripped back and sealed to reveal the original brickwork laced with exposed original conduit. The sand-blasted original bricks are testament to 140 years of stories and patrons – if these walls could only talk!
The space – now entirely opened up and re-air-conditioned - is flanked with heritage style lighting and the bars dressed with sleek, white subway tiles while natural timbers stud the back of bar and bar tops. Timber skirts and brass foot rails frame the bar-front while a seemingly infinite mantle of chalk boards and feature artwork encase the bar’s line of sight. At the Coronation Drive end of the Front Bar, fine wines and champagnes find their home, while at the other end and at the entrance to the courtyard, a Regatta Choice bar will showcase the best spirits – whiskeys, vodkas, rums, tequilas and more. To the rear of the Heritage Bar (Sylvan Road entry) is the re-located TAB gaming area with a lounge studded by the hotel’s beautiful and operational double-sided marble fireplace. It’s elegant and modern, with the wisdom of years of welcoming customers realized in the original design, the homage’s to history; but in such a modern context – super cool!
The Cellar Bars
The Regatta’s History
In 1874, some 137 years ago, Lawrence Howard Healy built the Regatta Hotel, a modest single story wooden affair; and so began the story of one of Australia’s greatest pubs. In 1882 the license of the hotel was transferred to William Winterford (and there’s a room on Level One named after him). It was constructed at a cost of 4,800 pounds and erected in 1886. The hotel exemplifies the evolution of Queensland’s history and its imposing optimism and exuberance of the times in which it was conceived by celebrated architect of the day, Richard Gailey.
Gailey contributed to the architectural character of Brisbane with his extensive use of cast iron and classical detailing – his signature style stand witness at the Regatta, today. The hotel shares a brethren with Gailey’s other architectural achievements including Brisbane Girls Grammar School, The Empire Hotel (Fortitude Valley), Toowong’s Masonic Hall, Moorlands, the home of the Mayne family (Auchenflower) and Brisbane CBD’s Metro Building and the Baptist City Tabernacle, among others. Naming of the Regatta Hotel would appear to come from the rowing regattas held on the river, recorded as early as the mid 1840’s. The first recorded regattas were held to celebrate Foundation Day, February 13, 1842 and later Separation Day 10th December 1859.
Some interesting moments in time include:
January 1887, saw the first of many floods pass through the hotel, covering the ground floor, Front Bar area and submerging the cellar completely. The devastating floods six years after in February 1893, saw swirling muddy waters invade the second story, and again, a fortnight later, the muddy waters returned, only this time a few inches lower. Four months later, major flooding again was to enter the hotel nearly submerging the ground floor. William Winterford after five years in the old single story hotel and 10 years in his Grand Lady of the River (as she was known by then), succumbed to the economic depression of the day, giving up his license, no doubt to retire to higher ground in 1897.
Major flooding occurred in January of 1974, known locally as the Australia Day weekend floods. Again muddy waters entered the hotel engulfing the cellar and the ground floor. Fourteen lives were lost and some 8,000 households were affected, many homes being totally destroyed. Estimated damage was approximately $200 million in 1974 values. In January 2011, it happened again. The Regatta Hotel was devastated by the flood event that kneecapped South East Queensland, killed 35 people and left a $1billion+ damage bill.
When they were refused their beers and asked to leave, they promptly chained themselves to the foot rail of the bar. The rest, as they say, is history!
The Regatta – A Timeline:
Friday, 24 August 2012
Regatta Hotel set to reclaim title as Grand Lady of the Brisbane River
Source = Regatta Hotel
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