Distillery plans up in smoke
the height of the re ( the Royal‘s remains THE owner of Mossman’s iconic Royal Hotel admits to mixed feelings about its destruction in a suspicious fire last Thursday night.
Developer Rick Williamson said he was shocked to receive a phone call while in Townsville on business last Thursday night to be told the pub was burning down.
Mr Williamson bought the property in 2009 and had originally planned to knock the pub down and build commercial premises.
But Cairns Regional Council supported community protests about the building’s heritage value and imposed a requirement for the hotel’s face to be incorporated into any development on the site.
The historic Jensen house next to the pub was preserved and relocated to Miallo while asbestos cladding was removed from the pub and efforts made to secure the premises from itinerants who regularly camped there.
Mr Williamson said while his investment had caused some initial frustration due to the heritage restrictions imposed after he bought it, he was in the process of sourcing a boutique distiller to operate out of the Royal Hotel and planned to build commercial premises either side.
“To be honest I haven’t thought about it (the Royal) much for the past six months because I’ve been busy with other business interests but I’d been researching putting a boutique distiller in there,” he said.
“I could’ve kept the face of the old hotel and sold the product from there and use any surplus in my other businesses and built shops on either side of it.”
He said he had no immediate plans for the site now the remains of the hotel have been pulled down due to safety concerns.
Douglas Shire Historical Society president Pam Willis Burden called for any new building on the site to be constructed in the same style as the Royal.
“The loss of the hotel is significant and the council should insist the same style of building be incorporated into any new development to restore the streetscape,” she said.
“They required it when the Court House Hotel in Port Douglas was rebuilt and also for the Rex Theatre in Cairns.”
Mossman Police Detective Sergeant Trevor Perham said the cause of the fire is undetermined but the building was unoccupied at the time and there was no electricity connected so it is being treated as suspicious.
Anyone with information related to the fire is urged to call Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or Mossman Police on 4098 2177.
Up in flfl ames: