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Old Billiard Saloon Makeover

Story: Linda Read | Photo: Peter Murray
Apr 05, 2020
Old Billiard Saloon Makeover
Almost 100 years ago, a grand new billiard saloon was opened in Rainbow Street, Sandgate. Today, after decades of lying under thick layers of paint and housing numerous tenants, the charming art nouveau building is set to become a new landmark, with a recent refurbishment bringing it spectacularly back to life.

Under the careful watch of new owner Ricky Ricardo, the building near the Sandgate train station has been restored as closely as possible to its original design and character – with a few necessary modern twists, including a private walled outdoor courtyard space.

Sandblasting the bright blue paint, which covered the entire building, revealed the original red bricks. One of the most impressive features was also discovered – the art nouveau reddish-brown tiles and floral feature tiles on the shopfront.

It’s been a labour of love for Ricky, a former fashion agent with a passion for old architecture, who describes Sandgate as “the most beautiful suburb in Brisbane”.

Supplying historical detail to the project was Sandgate Historical Society and Museum president Pam Verney, whose grandfather Charlie Verney built the building in 1922. Pam, who describes the restoration as “very exciting”, grew up in the house across the road (now the bait and tackle shop) and her father was one of the managers at the billiard hall.

“It was very much a men’s place,” Pam said.

“In the front part of the billiard room there was a milk bar. So at interval from the picture theatre across the road, the clients would come across and buy milkshakes and whatnot. I used to go and serve in the café.”

While Ricky said he was “slightly crazy” to have taken on such an intricate project, he said he hoped the interest it created would spark others to undertake similar projects and draw more people to the area.

He said while the ‘new’ venue would lend itself perfectly to a boutique wine bar or microbrewery, the future tenants were unknown as yet.

“I don’t want to say what it will end up [as], because I don’t know,” he said.

“As long as it is someone who appreciates it.”