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John Oxley Library

Queensland Places - Thursday Island - Hotel Metropole

By JOL Admin | 24 August 2015

For many years, the Hotel Metropole, formerly situated at No 1 Douglas Street, Thursday Island was a prominent landmark in the town, as well as being a popular venue for locals and visitors.

Hotel Metropole, Thursday Island, 1897

Hotel Metropole, Thursday Island, 1897

This advertisement, dating from 1897, shows both internal and external views of the hotel, then managed by Mr. D. Swiss-Davies. It is described here as well as in other advertisements of the time as “the most palatial hotel in Thursday Island”, with high quality accommodation and an excellent dining room. As well, newspaper reports describe both the Metropole and the Grand Hotels on Thursday Island as being two of the best hotels to be found in the north Queensland region.

As well as being a popular local hotel, the Metropole also played host to many dignitaries visiting the Torres Strait region. For instance, in 1913, a welcoming dinner for the Australian Fleet was held in the Hotel Metropole. In the advertisement, we can see one of the dining room tables formally set for such an occasion as this. Also, the piano visible to the right of the image, no doubt would have provided the music and entertainment.

The Saranealis family’s premises were located next to the Hotel Metropole around the time of this advertisement, and from this address they operated as pearl merchants as well as being manufacturing jewellers. Their premises, together with the adjoining Hotel Metropole, were both destroyed by fire during the period of the Second World War and it appears that the site remained vacant for some time after this. A January, 1950 newspaper report described the location of the hotel along the following lines, “one corner of the town’s main intersection is the foundation ruins of the burnt out Metropole Hotel - the cellar is still there, brimful of slime covered water”. In 1968, the National Bank moved to new premises, described as being in a building located on the site of the old Hotel Metropole.

Hotel Metropole, 1 Douglas Street, Thursday Island

Hotel Metropole, 1 Douglas Street, Thursday Island

This photograph, taken in around 1917, shows the hotel largely unchanged from its appearance in the above advertisement, still dominating the local streetscape. The hotel continued to trade successfully until the early 1940s, when, as previously outlined, it was lost in a major fire.

Brian Randall - Queensland Places Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


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