Pinkenba Hotel’s First Proprietress
Scottish immigrant Ellen Bain, who built the original Pinkenba Hotel was granted the license to operate in 1910, was a woman of incredible determination and strength who overcame many obstacles to achieve her dreams.
Her love affair with Pinkenba began when, aged 22, she stepped ashore from the immigrant ship Durham at the Pinkenba wharves in 1881 with her new baby John in her arms.
It was the start of a journey that would see her face personal heartbreak as well as business ups and downs and bitter court battles on her way to becoming one of Pinkenba’s largest land and property owners.
In July 1895 her husband John was granted a liquor license and opened the Myrtle Hotel in Myrtletown just up the road from Pinkenba. This was the start of hard work, joy and pain as Ellen, now a mother of three children watched Ellen (2) and John (5) die within two weeks of each other in 1886.
Three years later, tragedy struck again when Ellen’s father, Stewart Beattie, jumped into the Brisbane River off a jetty near the hotel and drowned.
In 1900, John and Ellen made the first of what would be numerous unsuccessful attempts over 10 years to transfer the Myrtle Hotel license to Pinkenba.
It was “an absurdity”, they said, “that a place of such importance as Pinkenba, Brisbane’s port, should be without hotel accommodation”.
Management of the nearby Pinkenba meatworks plus other locals, including the church and temperance groups, repeatedly opposed the move.
On John’s death in 1904, aged 49, Ellen took over the drawn-out license transfer battle and quickly made her mark with her tenacity and refusal to be intimidated by her mostly male antagonists.
Ellen had moved to strengthen her case for the license transfer, buying four blocks of land where the Pinkenba hotel now sits, adding three more adjoining blocks in 1907 and another two in June 1910.
Over this time Ellen arranged for the Myrtle Hotel to be broken down, transferred and rebuilt on her Pinkenba land.
The license was eventually granted in November, 1910 and being close to the wharves and Pinkenba station, and with an eager clientele from the meatworks, other surrounding businesses and homes, the hotel thrived.