The first pub to open in Childers, the Grand Hotel, is still serving patrons and is celebrating 130 years since it was built in the Childers main street in 1892.
In the early 1800s, Childers was a small town made up of just 91 people within minimal agricultural work on offer.
During the 1890s things changed and Childers became a booming sugar region, with a new railroad linking the area to Cordalba which saw the population rise to over 4000 people.
It was in this time that the need for entertainment became apparent and, according to current publican Helen Corliss, in response the Grand Hotel was built.
“In 1892, a building was moved from Horton by horse and cart to begin the construction of what we see today,” she said.
“The hotel was built based on German-born architect Anton Hettrich’s designs and it stood out for its elegant look and as the only brick building on the block at the time.
“Around 1897 it was bought by a new owner who got a Bundaberg architect to make it into a two-storey building, which was very grand as it was the only two-storey building in town.
“It was the only survivor on this side of the street after the Childers fire in 1902 and in 1992 it joined the heritage register becoming heritage listed.
“We were very lucky that when the fires came through, this building remained intact, with only a little bit of smoke and water damage when most of the street was completely destroyed.”
History shines through
The pub standing today still showcases many of the original features from its establishment, including the original carriageway which Helen said had many a story to tell.
“Back in the day when ladies couldn’t drink at the bar with their husbands, the carriage would pull up here and drop off the husband and wives,” she said.
“The husbands would walk in and go to the bar and the ladies would stay in the carriage way with the horses and do their needlework and talk to each other.
“Then, when they were done drinking, the carriage would take them out again.
“I think that is unique having that lovely carriageway still there.”
Helen said the pub once looked a little different but they had worked hard to ensure it maintained its heritage charm.
“It used to look a little different as it had some beautiful lacework along the veranda at the time, but I believe the story went that they must have sold it to the government during the war to make bullets or something out of it,” she said.
“We would’ve loved to still have some on the building if we could.
“The hotel has been largely kept in its original state because we think that is very important as we don’t want to destroy what made it so beautiful and unique in the first place and as it is heritage listed we couldn’t do anything to the façade.”
Helen said while the pub had only been in her family for the past 26 years, she looked forward to continuing to maintain the historic building and serve the local community members who make the pub what it is.
“Childers is such a lovely town and it has a fantastic community feel which makes it what it is and makes running this pub so special,” Helen said.
“There are some locals who have been here in the 26 years that the family have owned the pub, including Nancy who is in her 80s and still comes down every week for the raffles and a beer.
“It is people like this who make the pub the place it is, and we like to think of it is as a meeting place for people of any age, those who have just turned 18 right up to those in their 80s.
“There is nothing better than a meal and a beer at the local pub.”
A family affair
Helen said she and her husband had been handed down the pub from his parents in recent years, now taking over as the caretakers.
“We are very much looking forward to continuing to restore and maintain the pub to its former glory,” she said.
“There is a fair bit of work that comes with maintaining a 130 year old pub.
“It certainly looks a lot different now we have taken it over, we have reopened the verandas as well as sandblasting the paint off the brickwork along the front of the building.
“I am hoping that the community appreciate the way the pub looks now as it is an asset to the region.”
The Grand Hotel Childers will be celebrating their milestone birthday in May, with a performance from Chad Morgan, coinciding with the upcoming Childers Heritage Weekend on 14 – 15 May.
“To celebrate, the hotel will have Chad Morgan coming to play as he used to be one of the cane cutters back in the day,” she said.
“So, here’s to another 130 years I hope!”
You can find out more about the Grand Hotel Childers on Facebook.
Other stories: Local AFL players unite to help Gympie team