The Royal Hotel’s life began as a two-storey hotel on the corner of William and Wellington Streets in 1882. It was designed by Irish patriot and former convict, Joseph Noonan (or Nunan).
There was a shortage of hotel accommodation in Perth at the time and the hotel thrived.
In 1894, with James C. Foster as proprietor, The Royal Hotel went through a major redevelopment and was transformed into a grand Victorian Second Empire style building.
Western Australian born architect Henry Trigg designed the transformation, having also designed well-known landmarks, including the Subiaco Hotel, Trinity Church and Trigg Chambers.
A newspaper describing the hotel in 1894:
“The ground floor contains a splendid saloon with a very handsome bar. A counter of elaborate design and the mirrored shelving, together with the enriched ceiling and cathedral glass in the front windows, produce a fine effect. A black-and-white marbled tiled vestibule gives access to a dining room of fair size, well lighted, and a stair-case leads to the first floor, which is made private by screen doors leading to the front entrance.”
Over 138 years, The Royal has witnessed its fair share of wacky occurrences. Raucous patrons like Frank Dixon setting off crackers at the bar, blowing away a man’s eyebrows and whiskers in 1914. And crimes like William Parker stealing a corkscrew and a pewter pot in 1894. There have been countless deaths – murders, mishaps, and poisonings.
Of course, there were many good times too. The Royal Hotel was the meeting place and epicentre of Perth. It was a local for many, and people came in from different parts of Australia to stay in the rooms upstairs or have a drink in the corner pub.
In 1912, the Royal Hotel was described as one of the finest hotels in the state. W. H. Jones ran a bottle shop and advertised on the rail system and by horse and cart to the door of suburban addresses.
The Royal Hotel was sold to the Swan Brewery Company Ltd in 1925. And later, by the University of Western Australia during the 60s.
The whole site became known as Raine Square. In 2018, Raine Square was redeveloped into a shopping centre and commercial space.
After more than a century, The Royal Hotel continues to be a landmark on the corner of William and Wellington.