Brisbane’s Ship Inn: Sisters’ mystery £6,000 windfall

ship inn brisbane ship inn facebook page

The Ship Inn, Southbank, Brisbane. Picture: Ship Inn Facebook Page

elsie barmaid ship inn Brisbane 1953

IT was free drinks on the barmaid at a southside hotel today. Miss Elsie Stephens was told by the ‘Brisbane Telegraph’ that a ticket, bought in her name, had won first prize in an inters-State consultation. She doesn’t know anything about it, but everyone congratulated her just the same.

SISTERS Lizzie , Millie and Elsie Stephens, of Torrens Street, Annerley, are trying to solve a £6,000 mystery.

The “Brisbane Telegraph” received word today that first prize in an inter-State consultation was won by ticket No. 24295.

It was bought in the name “Sisters”, c/- Miss Elsie Stephens, Torrens Street, Annerley.

When a reporter told the sisters the news today, they were astonished — particularly, as they know nothing about the ticket.

They suspect that their married sister, Mrs. A. O’Drane, of North Bondi, Sydney, has bought the ticket in Elsie’s name.

Lizzie and Millie, both old age pensioners, were at home when the reporter arrived. They were lying down “with a touch of the flu,” they said.

“That’s livened me up considerably,” Lizzie said when they were told the news. “I think I could go down and mow the lawn.”

Elsie, a barmaid at the Ship Inn Hotel, Stanley Street, just could not believe it.

The news quickly spread round the bar, and Elsie provided free drinks all round as the patrons showered congratulations on her.

“I’ll marry you when you retire,” one man shouted.

“But don’t think it’s for your money.”

But Elsie said she would not retire for anything, not even a share in £6,000.

The three sisters are now anxiously awaiting word from their married sister.

– Brisbane Telegraph Thursday 26 April 1951.

ship inn Brisbane 1980

The Ship Inn Hotel, Brisbane prior to restoration in 1980. Picture: Supplied

THE Ship Inn, where Elsie Stephens served her thirsty wharfies and railway workers in the 1950s, is located on Southbank Brisbane.

Originally known as the Railway Hotel, The Ship Inn was built on a block of land purchased by Daniel Donivan in 1864.

The Railway Hotel was opened in 1866, and within a year was closed. It remained unlicensed until 1879 when William Munro leased the hotel from Peter and Margret Gaffey and opened the newly licensed hotel under the sign, The Ship Inn.

The Ship Inn was popular with wharfies and railway workers from around Southbank Brisbane and later became popular with American sailors in the second World War.

In 1967 Kevin Nunan became The Ship Inn’s licensee and provided a marked change by having live music in the hotel’s lounge on Friday nights.

After 100 years, The Ship Inn was forced to close its doors in 1979. It would not reopen for another eight years, after major renovations were done in the lead up to the 1988 World Expo when it traded as a night club.

In 2000, Griffith University bought The Ship Inn, and in 2003 the educational institution announced its redevelopment, along with the building for a new post-graduate studies centre next door.

What was once a rowdy sailor’s drinking den has been transformed into a civilised gastro pub complete with a separate and impressive function and convention facility catering for up to 200 guests.

This iconic South Bank Hotel, constructed in 1864, has developed a reputation as a popular eatery, and boasts a classic pub style menu.

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Categories: Barmaids, Brisbane hotels, Queensland hotels

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