Brisbane Hotel, 1880s (Tasmaniana Library, SLT)
The Brisbane Hotel, Launceston, was built by Joseph Barrett in 1824, and called the Elphin Arms. The building had many owners. It became a girls' school, then a hotel again, the Robin Hood and Little John under licensee John Dowling (1852–54). JW Simmonds (1858–86) enlarged it and named it the Brisbane Hotel, and Auguste Deleuse (1889–99) built an imposing facade.
Francis Cognet, born in France, became the licensee in 1899, at which stage the Brisbane had seventy rooms 'and is perhaps the best appointed establishment of its kind in the northern portion of the island', with an excellent cuisine. The Quigley family improved it further, creating an air of opulence and quality which attracted royalty, vice-royalty and celebrities. The Prince of Wales stayed at the Brisbane in 1920, and other guests included Dame Nellie Melba, Noel Coward and touring Test cricketers.
The hotel closed in the 1960s, and the Old Brisbane Arcade was subsequently developed behind its fine facade.
Further reading: The Cyclopedia of Tasmania 2, Hobart, 1900; Examiner, 26 January 1993; D Radford, A–Z of Launceston's colonial public house licensees 1824–1900, Launceston, 2003.