The Steam Packet Hotel has always been one of the leading hotels in the city and had a strong association with the thriving nineteenth century port of Williamstown. It is currently one the oldest licensed venues in Victoria.
The two-storey building was built in 1863 to replace an 1839 original building called the Ship Inn. On 7th January 1839, James Fawns took out a license for the Ship Inn which became Williamstown’s first hotel. In the mid 1940’s, the Ship Inn was serving as a boarding house and a bakery run by Mr Jennings. It was then in 1850 that Mr Jennings took out a license for the building, originally wanting to call it the Governor Arthur after the paddle steamer which provided a passenger and goods service between Melbourne and Williamstown. Rumour has it that Jennings changed his mind as another Governor Arthur was quite unpopular in Victoria at the time therefore keeping the original name.
In 1861, a fire destroyed several shops and the Old Ship Inn. Two years later in 1863, the new building was completed and the current Steam Packet Hotel was born.