Imperial Hotel, Ravenswood, Queensland

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Date: [unknown] [unknown]
Location: Ravenswood, Queensland, Australiamap
Surnames/tags: Delaney Queensland Australia
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Ravenswood One Place Study

The Imperial Hotel, Ravenswood. Where time stood still.

The Imperial Hotel, in the gold mining town of Ravenswood, Queensland, is a rare, well preserved, example of a building, almost exactly the same as it was built, over 110 years ago, and was listed on the Queensland Heritage Register on the 21st of October 1992.

The first Imperial Hotel was built of wood in 1901, in Macrossan Street, fronting Buchanan's Creek, with 18 bedrooms, by James Delaney, and burned down six months later, at 3.45 a.m on Thursday the 18th of April, as well as adjoining shops, including the bakery, grocery and drapery.

There was a major fire in the center of town that year, which destroyed many buildings, because of a lack of available water. The Bell Tower was across the road from the Ravenswood Hotel, and beside Elphinstone Creek, which was the only building in that block which didn't burn.

The Staircase.

In 1902, James Delaney then built a new magnificent, Edwardian era, structure, of brick and wood, in bold German Renaissance style, with sixteen bedrooms, 5 twin, 3 single and 8 doubles, with brass beds, and wash basins on stands in each. The 340,000 red bricks were made in Ravenswood, by A. L. Wilson and John Moran, however it is believed that the cream bricks were transported from Townsville. It was designed by Eaton, Bates and Polin, architects, and built by Mr George Murray at a cost of £4,166. ( This converts to $608, 486.74c in 2021.)[1] The building had a laneway at the rear, and has elaborate second story verandahs on two sides. Built as a symentrical two stories in a U-shaped plan constructed of bricks laid in English Bond pattern, and decorated with bands of cream bricks. The iron roof is concealed with a high parapet with an arched central pediment and six spires. The front upper verandah has panels of cast iron balustrading. The verandah on the side elevation is not connected to this and has only an upper section with dowel balustrading. There are two front entrances, one to the bar, with bat-wing doors, and one to the central hallway. On the upper floor, French doors open out from bedrooms onto the verandahs. The building retains almost all of its original fabric and the interior layout is typical of nineteenth century hotels. It is exceptionally intact down to furniture, fittings and minor items of hotel equipment. The ground floor contains the bars, dining room and furniture and fittings, a billiard room and table, kitchen, store rooms and office. A narrow, open court yard extends between the two wings of the building with ground floor toilets at the rear of the kitchen wing. Bedrooms are located on the first floor along with bathroom and toilet facilities. Two flights of elegantly carved Cedar stairs lead up to where the building contains much of its original furniture and fittings.

The Hallway.

Two large Cedar Doors with frosted glass panels and glass handles, open to the Dining Room, which is full of old silverware, domed meat trays, teapots and white starched tablecloths on antique tables and chairs.

The Red Cedar Bar was constructed in a circular plan with a large ornate divider, based on the front of the hotel, with arches and stained glass inserts, was imported from England, and the lead light from France, by Rooney Brothers of Townsville. The bar still has it's ceramic bar taps, although not operational, and beer engines.

Matthew Rooney drowned with his wife and daughter, in 1911, when the S.S Yongala sank during a cyclone.

The Billiard Room contains an antique 12' x 6' table "Table 166" made by Heron and Smith, dated 1895, and making it one of the oldest in Queensland. The table, unused for fifty years was magnificently reburbished in 2005 by "Match play Billiards" in Townsville. Eddie Charlton played there in 2002, for the 100 years celebration, and Walter Lindrum reputedly won the Australian Championship on it 50 years earlier.

The Billiard Room.

Jim Delaney was one of a ten man syndicate, formed to reopen the old Donnybrook mine, later named Brookville. With his success he built the Imperial Hotel.

After James Delaney's death in 1903, the Imperial was run by a manager, while the children were young, then James's wife, Annie, and then by Tess and Jo. Tess was a piano player, and entertained the patrons, while Jo did the cooking. The Imperial stayed in the family until the 1990's when Maisie, the last surviving, of James's four daughters, and the only one to marry, died in 1994.

James and Annie are reported to have been seen, haunting the hallways of their magnificent establishment.??

Room 11 Known as Spook Central., reportedly the site of numerous hauntings.

A miner come rolling down those stairs one day, white as a ghost, and he would not go back up the stairs.

Room 13. Because of superstition, Room 13 was renumbered as 12A, and was also the site of many hauntings, and white faced guests.

One of the chefs came out of the kitchen and looked through where the old ladies parlour used to be, which is now a cool room, and swore black and blue he saw a young lady in period dress.


  1. Eric W. Nye, Pounds Sterling to Dollars: Historical Conversion of Currency, accessed Saturday, October 30, 2021,conversion

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