21 November 2022
A new era for the century-old Commonwealth Hotel begins today.
Ipswich Mayor Teresa Harding, Ipswich Central Redevelopment Committee Chairperson Councillor Marnie Doyle, and representatives from Hutchinson Builders and AusHotels turned the first sod on the hotel expansion project.
“The Nicholas Street Precinct is largely about the new – cafes, fast-food stores, bars, restaurants and retail shops – but there is an old gem hidden in this newly developed area, the century-old Commonwealth Hotel,” Mayor Harding said.
“Work has officially begun today on the expansion and in a little over a year, the doors will open to the public again, hopefully in time for Christmas 2023.
“We are very excited to reach this stage as it has been many years in the making. Some painstaking years, much blood, sweat and toil, but we are delighted to be here today to commence the next step of this amazing journey.”
Council recently unveiled the first fly-through video of the Commonwealth Hotel and what it is expected to look like after Hutchinson Builders finish the expansion construction.
“One hundred and twelve years after the local architect Henry Wyman built the hotel, it has been fantastic to see the façade restored with original bricks, floorboards and beautiful stain glass windows,” Mayor Harding said.
“We are proud of this iconic little hotel, with this expansion set to make it bigger, better and a major drawcard for residents and visitors to the city.”
Councillor Doyle said Ipswich City Council is committed to finishing the job at the Commonwealth Hotel and bringing the community back into this wonderful space.
“The Commonwealth Hotel has been meticulously restored by council to preserve its heritage character and the forthcoming extension of the hotel will transform the site into a state-of-the-art dining and entertainment hub,” Cr Doyle said.
“The Commonwealth Hotel, also known as Murphy’s Pub, was built in 1910 and extensive plans for the redevelopment include indoor and outdoor dining, a feature cocktail bar, beer garden and function rooms, while keeping its classic and authentic persona at its core.
“Seeing the first stage finished was fantastic, but this is the icing on the cake and will make it a truly desirable place for the public to go for a drink or catch-up with family and friends and spend quality time in the precinct.”
Council acquired the Commonwealth Hotel in 2014 and began repairs after subsidence and significant cracking in the building’s façade and its partial collapse, which made the building uninhabitable.
To ensure that the building could be repaired, and to prevent further disintegration to the original components, the building was carefully deconstructed with the pieces stored offsite in a council depot to be restored and repaired.
It has slowly been restored to its former glory and returned to life.
The restoration has included 20,000 recycled bricks and 22,000 new bricks. However, it will require the extension to make it viable as a modern-day drinking spot.
Award-winning Hutchinson Builders is taking on that construction contract.
Cr Doyle said the hotel will act as an anchor for the precinct and drive additional interest right across the redeveloped Ipswich Central area.
“AusHotels, which runs the Orion Hotel at Springfield Central, recently signed on as operator of the hotel,” Cr Doyle said.
“We have watched this grand building being brought back to life and with AusHotels coming on board, we are now assured the future of the site has been secured.”
Councillor Doyle said the completion of restoration works was a milestone that celebrates the Commonwealth Hotel as a notable part of the history of Ipswich.
“It will be a blend of the old and the new. We expect a seamless transition from the tavern of old to this new favourite watering hole. Council is committed to preserving the city’s heritage whenever possible,” Cr Doyle said.
“Throughout this project, council’s heritage advisor, a local specialist architect and project engineers worked closely to help ensure that important knowledge about the hotel guided and informed its reconstruction and we are very pleased with the results.
“In my younger years, this pub was a live music venue and I have great memories of it overflowing with excitement and energy and I am delighted it has been restored to its former glory.
“Within the new Nicholas Street Precinct, the Commonwealth Hotel tells a story of our past and will be surrounded by new and advanced buildings that speak to our future.
“The reopened hotel will draw more people to the precinct and bolster future trade. Importantly, it will help reactivate the night-time economy in the Nicholas Street Precinct and complement the precinct’s other new offerings.”