In 1863 Charles Baker bought the land on which “The Glen” stands today. He was granted a publicans’ license on December 12, 1865 and Bakers Hotel was officially opened for trade. It is amongst the oldest, continuously trading licensed premises in Queensland. “Bakers Hotel” became “The Eight Mile Plains Hotel” sometime in the early 1870’s.
By 1875 Cobb & Co. coaches stopped daily at “The Eight Mile Plains Hotel” on their way from Brisbane to Southport. Cobb & Co. coaches changed horses every ten miles and because of the permanently flowing Bulimba Creek this hotel became an obvious destination to establish a Change-station. At every change-station, Cobb & Co. built booking offices and stables. The hotel provided hot meals and cold ale for the passengers, while fresh horses were being harnessed.
In 1927, two Scottish sisters Mary-Jane McCamey and Emma O’Sullivan took over the hotel and changed its name to “The Glen”, because the undulating countryside reminded them of the area in Scotland where they were born. Throughout its history, “The Glen” has been owned by a series of siblings or relatives, as can be seen from the repetition of the names on the publicans’ honor board.
In keeping with tradition, the hotel was bought in 1960 by another group of siblings: Brian Fitzgibbons, his younger brother Vince and their sister Imelda Mann. The trio had good training in the industry. Their parents Michael (“Phons”) and Lily Fitzgibbons, bought their first Queensland hotel, “The Kirabelle” (now “The Port O’Call”) in Coolangatta in 1936. Phons and Lily ultimately added “The Southport Hotel”, “The Central Hotel” in Toowoomba and “The Daniell Hotel” in George Street Brisbane to their portfolio.
Brian and his wife Elaine lived at “The Glen” with their nine children. When they first took over, the hotel was badly in need of repair. Renovations changed the face of “The Glen”. It became a compulsory “Pitstop” on the way to the Gold Coast and a Hub of dinner dances, caberets, and discos. Top singers and bands all played here. “The Rumblin’ Tum” was legendary. Johnny O’Keefe, Kamahl, Billy Thorpe, Daddy Cool and the Deltones were just a few of the top names to perform.
By the 1980’s the hotel was again in need of major refurbishment. With the opening of Expo 88 in Brisbane, brothers Brian and Greg Fitzgibbons, sons of Brian and Elaine, transformed the Glen to its original colonial charm. With the rapid development taking place on the south side of Brisbane, “The Glen” is once again evolving to meet the needs of the community that surrounds it.
“The Glen” has many faces: from Charles Baker, the original landlord, to the Scottish sisters who gave the hotel its name, to the Fitzgibbons Family who have held “The Glen” close to their hearts for three generations.
There are many people who have contributed to the hotel’s colourful past, such as Faye Karhula, who retired in 2003 after 40 years behind the bar. “The Glen” is special for many reasons, but none as important as the dedication of it’s staff. This extended family of “The Glen” encompasses each and every person who walks through the doors and enjoys the very best that a truly Queensland hotel has to offer.
Tomorrow – The Glen Family, and tradition will live on……