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Don't you just love it when something old becomes new again? For those looking for a 'Live Like A Local' experience, you can't go past The Prince Consort, however, most locals would have known it as The Elephant Arms Hotel, but do you know the history of the building? We didn't and it is actually quite fascinating. Thank you Kath Rose for educating us and telling their story......
For 132 years The Prince Consort has watched over Fortitude Valley, as one of the city’s original heritage pubs. If these walls could talk, they’d tell a cracking tale. But perhaps best they don’t, some secrets are meant to be kept. Back to the name. In 1888 Queen Victoria reigned over the Commonwealth, and the name the Prince Consort refers to her beloved husband Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (um, also her cousin). The Prince Consort died in 1862 so the Queen paid tribute to him by changing the name of the HMS Triumph (a ship in the Royal Navy) to The Prince Consort. The ship brought passengers to Queensland in 1862, 1863 and 1864, sailing from the English ports of Liverpool, Plymouth and Southampton. And there’s the connection!
The original Prince Consort Hotel was built on the current site at 230 Wickham Street and leased to former stonemason turned publican John Daniel Heal around 1863. At the time, Fortitude Valley was in a building boom and Heal snapped up neighbouring properties so he could build a bigger, grander hotel.
To design this vision, in 1887 he called on architect-of-the-moment, Richard Gailey. The new pub was built by William Ferguson for £9,400. It took 12 months to build, and a new era began.
About Gailey. He was busy! During the second half of the 1880s, he designed The Wickham Hotel (1885), the Empire Hotel (1887), the Jubilee Hotel (1887) and the Prince Consort, all in Fortitude Valley, as well as the Regatta Hotel in Toowong in 1886. To this day all these hotels remain standing and operating. Go Gailey.
When The Prince Consort opened in 1888, it boasted one of the largest bars in Brisbane, three parlours, a large dining room, billiard room, kitchen, cellar, six bathrooms and 28 bedrooms as well as four large shops on the ground floor. Running the entire length of the first-floor facade was a reception area, known as the Club Room. This vision splendid of many spaces under the one roof continues today!
John Daniel Heal became the local alderman for Fortitude Valley and Mayor of Brisbane for a time. The hotel was added to the Queensland Heritage Register on 21 October 1992, and has undergone a few ownership changes.
It’s not just 132 years of late-night bar confessions and corridor whispers that make this hotel epic, it was also a preferred meeting place for many a Fitzgerald Inquiry person-of-interest! Let’s just say more than a few brown paper bags were spotted in the day! Now, a new era beckons and under the ownership of Tilley & Wills, the future of The Prince Consort and Friends is inked.
The Prince Consort as it was originally named, has fed, watered, and kept the secrets of all who ventured through since 1888, and now, thanks to new owners Tilley & Wills Hotels, and now it has taken rightful place on Brisbane’s centre stage.
Moving in the modern era, meet The Prince Consort and Friends - La La Land, 400 Rabbits Cantina, The Garden Bar, The Naughty Corner, The Bowie Rooms, The Yorke Suites and Greaser, eight spaces in the heritage hotel, each a different experience.
The ground floor parlour is a nod to the building's rich history, while the Garden Bar outside is an open-air oasis, brimming with botanicals, washed in a palette of pastels and humming with Queensland vibes.
Upstairs via the ornate staircase, La La Land is an eclectic, sumptuous bar with booth seating, VIP private rooms and a crystal chandelier-covered dance floor – think super luxe Supper Club. An antler-suspended hallway leads to the unexpectedly themed Bowie Rooms, private spaces that need to be seen to be understood.
On the top level is The Yorke Suites, a boulevard of spaces for music makers and creatives, and in the cellar and able to survive just about anything, the much-loved Greaser. And in the heart of the hotel is The Naughty Corner – every pub has one, this time it’s official!
Menus range from the gastro-pub-inspired offering of The Prince Consort, to super modern tacos starring seasonal ingredients at 400 Rabbits Cantina, to epic pizzas from the wood-fired oven, to shared tapas plates at La La Land.
Reference: Kath Rose/Kath Rose and Associates (2020) media release - The Elephant has left the building. Introducing The Prince Consort to Brisbane's centre stage [media release] October 2020.