Murderous Assault at Barretts Hotel - 1879

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Three loiterers rushed upon the holiday makers – at the same time flourishing in the air heavy pick-handles, with which they began a 'most atrocious and murderous attack’…in a moment, ‘blood was flowing from many wounds’…an ear was ‘dreadfully smashed’ and a scalp wound ‘divided an artery'.

The Star, 26 December, 1879.


This site has housed a hotel continuously since 1865. The first one was known as the Harp of Erin, then as the Borough Hotel from 1870 and, after its purchase by John Barrett in 1878, as the Barrett's Family Hotel. Barrett lost his publican's license in 1880 for two years after failing to stop a riot between the Protestant Alliance Friendly Society marchers, and the predominantly Catholic hotel patrons.

During this period W.B. Armson was commissioned to design a new building for the hotel which later became known as The Excelsior.  Armson designed Barrett's hotel in the style of an Italian palazzo, an architectural form made famous by Sir Charles Barry's designs for two London clubs, the Travellers' (1829-1830) and the Reform Club (1837-1838).

  • Image: Zoe Roland

Building information

The Excelsior Hotel 120 Manchester Street Architect: William Barnett Armson, Date: 1881 (circa) – 1882 Historic Place Category 1