The Caxton as one of Brisbane’s oldest licensed premises, dating back to its original construction in 1864, has contributed in many ways over the following decades to the local history of Brisbane.
The Hotel was built for William Warman in 1864 and was located opposite to its present position (next to Gambaro’s takeaway). The name ‘Caxton’ was chosen by Warman, a compositor amongst other things, in memory of the first English printer, William Caxton. The Hotel was transferred in 1873 to John Hendry, who promptly changed the Hotel’s name to the “Elephant and Castle”. This name change was short lived however, and only after two years of ownership, Hendry passed the Hotel onto William Brown who returned the original name of ‘Caxton’. Over the following period from 1875 to 1900, the Hotel underwent various changes, including 12 different owners, a devastating fire and complete reconstruction.
In 1884 The Caxton Hotel literally ‘went up in flames’ with a shop fire that consumed the entire building beyond repair. The then owner, Simon McLennan, made the fortuitous decision to rebuild – on the opposite side of the street (The Caxton’s present location). Hotel’s previous 20 years of service transferred into the building of a new, modern construction. The new Hotel was of a two story, red brick design, with clean and airy inside parlours and sitting rooms.
The experiences and traditions established from The Caxton has kept and maintained a tradition as a family owned and operated Hotel. From George Fred Pott, a native Kent-English seafearing man who raised his young family over a period of nine years (the longest owned period of the Hotel before the 1900’s), to the Drumm family (1949 – 1997) and to the current owners, The Farquhar Family (1997 – the end of time).
In 1949 Jim Drumm rented the Caxton Hotel on a weekly basis from the Castlemaine Brewery, who not only owned the Caxton, but numerous other Hotels in and around Brisbane. Jim’s son, Michael, carried on the family tradition and took over operations and the Hotel’s lease in 1979, later purchasing the Hotel outright (1990).
During this period, the Hotel was refurbished, converting the then accommodation into valued bars and function rooms. The Farquhar Family, who have a long and established tradition of operating Hotel’s doing so in Brisbane and elsewhere since 1950, purchased The Caxton Hotel in 1997. Structurally, they converted, refurbished and added to the existing Hotel, to produce The Caxton as we know it today. Not with standing a single wall of the 1884 structure still remains steadfast inside the Hotel.
Other than a lasting tradition of family unity, The Caxton Hotel also maintains a reputation as a true ‘sportspersons’ Hotel. From the early days of operation, the Hotel with its owners’ individual influences, has brought a multitude of sporting activities and attributes to patrons. George Fred Pott (owner/operator 1889 – 1896), a lover of aquatic sports, transferred that love through the Hotel by way of the Mercantile Rowing Club. In the 1900’s, the Hotel ran and operated boxing matches, whilst in the past 21 years The Caxton has developed a tradition with Rugby League.
The Caxton has found particular notoriety in recent history with the State of Origin Rugby League matches, providing fans of the sport with a party atmosphere in the true Queenslander spirit. The Caxton was recognised in years past for its contribution to history through the National Centenary of Federation Celebrations with the annual “Running of the Buses”. What started as a few patrons waving and cheering on their team's bus as it made its way to the stadium. This event has not run in recent years, but the Caxton Hotel is as famous as ever for being recognised as the place to be on origin night.