Mv006 : Hotel Imperial | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Mv006 : Hotel Imperial

Item details

Name of item: Mv006 : Hotel Imperial
Other name/s: Hotel Imperial De La Paix
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Commercial
Category: Hotel
Primary address: 1-15 Station Street, Mount Victoria, NSW 2786
Parish: Hartley
County: Cook
Local govt. area: Blue Mountains
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
1-15 Station StreetMount VictoriaBlue Mountains HartleyCookPrimary Address
Great Western HighwayMount VictoriaBlue Mountains   Alternate Address

Statement of significance:

The Hotel Imperial is significant for a variety of reasons. It is the only hotel in the Blue Mountains to have traded continuously under its own name. The Hotel has played host to famous guests in the past and has been an important venue for local residents and visitors to Mt Victoria alike for over one hundred and twenty years. The building has associations with historically significant individuals including James Joynton Smith, members of the Tabrett family and William Lees.

The hotel is a very important visual landmark at the intersection of Great Western Highway and Station Street and has strong historical associations with Memorial Park to its west and the park to its north. The hotel, which has retained a large amount of intact external and internal fabric, is notable for its size and distinctive architectural expression.
Date significance updated: 12 Feb 02
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Construction years: 1878-
Physical description: The Hotel Imperial is a two storey building with an irregular massing reflecting the planning of its interior. The majority of the building has two floors, the walls of which are covered with cement render externally and which feature crenellated parapets above decorative horizontal mouldings. Decorative piers rise above the main western parapet. Verandahs along parts of the southern, northern and western facades of the building are framed in timber, with heavy posts, valances that have been fretted into the form of a tudor arch, and simple vertical balustrading. Verandah roofs have a simple hipped profile and are covered with corrugated iron. French doors with fanlights open onto the verandahs, while windows are generally comprised of timber framed double hung sashes.

A single storey wing is located on the corner of the Great Western Highway and Station Street. Finishes and detailing are similar to the rest of the building. A cantilevered awning extends across its southern and part of its western facades.

Internally a relatively large amount of early twentieth century has survived in an intact condition. This includes public spaces used as dining rooms and bars, timber joinery items, leadlight windows, fireplaces, chimney pieces and lavatory fitments and fixtures.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
The open space on the eastern side of the building near the Great Western Highway contains remnants of walls and footings, and may have archaeological potential.
Date condition updated:11 Apr 02
Modifications and dates: Sections of first floor verandahs have been enclosed.
Current use: Hotel
Former use: Hotel


Historical notes: The Imperial Hotel stands on part of the land that was granted to Mary Finn. It was aqcuired by William Piddington and his partners and subdivided. The block that now includes the hotel was purchased by John Leeming in 1877. A small hut which served as a school house was demolished, and a hotel built on the site the following year that was called the Imperial Hotel. The first licensee was a man called McMahon. The establishment was sufficiently respectible to accommodate Vice Regal visitors in 1889 when Lord Carrington and the earl and Countess of Onslow stayed there during a visit to the Blue Mountains. In 1891 the license of the hotel was taken by John Francis Tabrett, who had migrated to New South Wales with his wife and family in the 1870s. The Tabrett family lived for a time in Hartley before moving to Mt Victoria, and lived across the road in the house at 26 Station Street (now the Bay Tree Tea Rooms). The family left Mt Victoria after a number of years to settle in Katoomba, where they attained a high level of prominence.

The license to the hotel passed from John Tabrett to Arthur Peacock. Shortly after a serious fire destroyed part of the premises, and it was rebuilt (Silvey, pp.31-32).

In 1912 Thomas Gillespie and James Steel sold the hotel and the land to its north (which was apparently used as the vegetable garden for the establishment), as well as the land that now comprises the Memorial Park to James Joynton-Smith (LTO 2248-120). James Smith was born in London on 4 October 1858, the eldest of twelve children born to James and Jane Smith. He started working at age 12 and eventually ended up in the employ of the Peninsula and Oriental Lines. This enabled him to reach New Zealand in 1874, where he flourished running a hotel in Wellington. On his return to England in 1886 Smith gambled heavily and lost his fortune, so returned to Wellington. He subsequently arrived in Sydney around 1890, and between 1892 and 1896 managed a hotel in Clarence Street. After divorcing his wife Smith married into a family of experienced hoteliers in 1893; by 1896 he had become well known by the name of Joynton Smith and in that year he took up the lease of the Imperial Arcade Hotel, which was to form the basis of his future wealth. In 1901 he became a Justice of the Peace and leased the Brighton Racecourse at Rockdale, then leased the course at Forest Lodge before purchasing it in 1911. Joynton Smith also opened a racecourse at Victoria Park (Zetland) in 1908. As well, Joynton Smith prospered as a result of his ventures in the Blue Mountains, where for many years he proved to be the region's dominant venture. He is perhaps best known for his association with the Carrington Hotel in Katoomba. Other ventures in which he was involved included publication of Smith's Weekly, The Daily Guardian and the Sunday Guardian newspapers. He backed Sydney's first radio station and was president of the NSW Rugby League between 1910 and 1928.

In the public realm Joynton Smith was nominated to the Legislative Council in March 1912 and, although not active within it, retired as late as 1934. He was an independent alderman with the Sydney Municipal Council between 1916 and 1918 and Lord Mayor for the term 1917-18. In 1910 he founded a charity to support South Sydney Hospital, was a director of Sydney Hospital between 1911 and 1932, a director of the Queen Victoria House for Consumptives at Wentworth Falls, and the first president of the Picton Lakes T B Soldiers' and Sailors' Settlement. Joynton Smith died on 10 October1948 (ADB Volume 11)

After acquiring the property at Mt Victoria Joynton Smith mortgaged it to the City Bank of Sydney on 12 January 1912, then to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia on 31 May 1917 and finally to James Yates of Newtown on 21 November 1924. In March 1925 he sold all of the property to William Joseph Lees (LTO 2248-120). William Lees had arrived in Mt Victoria around 1913. He took over the Royal Hotel (now the Victoria and Albert guesthouse) which he completely rebuilt and, after acquiring the Imperial Hotel was able to dominate the local tourist industry. Lees established a golf course and ran a coach service to Jenolan Caves for the enjoyment of his guests (Silvey, p.32 and 34).

Lees also mortgaged the property to a succession of individuals and companies, and from April 1925 tied the hotel to Resch’s Limited, which was transferred to Tooth & Co Limited after the take over of Resch's in 1929. In July 1945 Lees sold the hotel and other property to Francis Joseph Sommers. Five years later Sommers sold the parkland across from the hotel to a company called Mountain Mist Hotels Pty Limited, then in August 1955 sold the hotel and the land to its north to Edgar Howard Benjamin Allen (LTO 2248-120 and 7095-187). Allen retained the hotel for about twenty years, living next to the Imperial in a cottage included within the grounds, and building the motel that stands to its north. He also donated land so that a Guide Hall could be built (Silvey, p.32).

During 1975 the hotel was sold to Kenneth and Kathleen Doust, who lived in Bathurst, where Kenneth Doust practised as a medical doctor. Three years later the Memorial Park ceased to have any links with the hotel industry after title to it was transferred from Mountain Mist Hotels Pty Limited to the Council of the City of Blue Mountains during 1978. The Imperial Hotel was sold to Joseph and Ruth Griffin during 1980, then to a company called Tanir Holdings Pty Limited at the end of 1984 or the beginning of 1985 (LTO 9615-249).

In the late 1980s the hotel was purchased by Carol Turner, who undertook to arrest the decline which the premises had been experiencing. In 1991 it was sold again, and was refurbished under the direction of its licensee, Ann Welstead (Silvey, p.32).

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Commerce-Activities relating to buying, selling and exchanging goods and services (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-
9. Phases of Life-Marking the phases of life Persons-Activities of, and associations with, identifiable individuals, families and communal groups (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
The Hotel Imperial is the only hotel in the Blue Mountains to have traded continuously under its own name., and has been trading continually since 1878. The building has strong historical associations with Memorial Park to its west and the park to its north.

The Hotel has played host to famous guests in the past. It also has associations with the historically prominent figure of James Joynton Smith, who is prominent at a state level, and with individuals of local significance, including the Tabrett family and William Lees.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
The building is a very important visual landmark at the intersection of Great Western Highway and Station Street.

The hotel is notable for its size and distinctive architectural expression, which has a layer of "medieval" decorative detail imposed over a conventional late nineteenth/early twentieth century building form.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The Imperial Hotel has been an important venue for local residents and visitors to Mt Victoria alike for over one hundred and twenty years.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The open space on the eastern side of the building near the Great western Highway contains remnats of walls and footings, and may have archaeological potential.
Integrity/Intactness: The external form and major ground floor spaces are generally intact, retaining a great deal of fabric from the early twentieth century.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanLocal Environmental Plan2005MV00607 Oct 05 122 
Heritage study MV006   

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
Blue Mountains Heritage Study1983MV006Croft & Associates Pty Ltd & Meredith Walker  Yes
Building & other works/relics Blue Mountain Heritage Study Review1992MV006Lester Tropman & Associates  No
Technical Audit BM Heritage Register2008MV006Blue Mountains City CouncilCity Planning Branch No

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
Written 1985Certificate of Title, Register Book Volume 9615 Folio 249
Written 1956Certificate of Title, Register Book Volume 7095 Folio 187
Written 1912Certificate of Title, Register Book Volume 2248 Folio 120
WrittenGeoffrey Serle (editor)1988Australian Dictionary of Biography Volume 11
WrittenGwen Silvey1996Happy Days

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 1172077

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