2200 pa­trons bid farewell to Al­bion

Wangaratta Chronicle - - Front Page - BY SI­MONE KERWIN sker­[email protected]­me­dia.com.au

un­der-agers who were try­ing their best to get in – but didn’t – be­cause they knew it was their last chance.

“Peo­ple were talk­ing about times they’d had at the pub when they were younger, it was a very nos­tal­gic evening, and there were even a few tears shed while peo­ple re­called their mem­o­ries.

“Lots of peo­ple met their part­ners there - I met my part­ner in there - and over the years we’ve had a few mar­riage pro­pos­als at the pub, all sorts of stuff.

“Ev­ery­one’s got a story of a night they went out with friends, maybe the mis­chief they got up to.

“Lots of older peo­ple were telling me sto­ries about be­ing in there when they were 16 or 17 and there was no photo ID so it was eas­ier to get en­try, and there was lots of dis­cus­sion about Alice Knee­bone and Jim Kir­wan.”

Mr Wil­son, who has worked at the Al­bion since 1989, said his mother had also worked at the venue.

“I’ve spent two thirds of my life in that place, and I was just so glad the last night went off with­out a hitch and ev­ery­one had a great time,” he said.

“It’s a sad time, but I’m re­ally happy ev­ery­one en­joyed it so much.

“The most im­por­tant thing is that ev­ery­one got to feel a part of it, and have one last re­ally good night there, it felt like the way things used to be when I was younger.”

Mr Wil­son said it would be strange to see the Al­bion closed up, “for the first time in my life­time”, as Wangaratta cel­e­brated New Year’s Eve on Mon­day.

He said, apart from a six month clo­sure in 1992 for refurbishment, the venue had op­er­ated con­tin­u­ously as an en­ter­tain­ment venue since the 1950s and ’60s.

Cur­rently owned by Ken But­ter­worth, the Al­bion is listed for sale with Garry Nash and Co for $1,480,000.

“There has been a change in cul­ture, and night­clubs are not the draw­card they used to be,” Mr Wil­son said.

“The re­al­ity is that go­ing for­ward, some­one will hope­fully buy it and keep it as a pub, but I don’t think it will be an en­ter­tain­ment venue again; that’s what my 30 years in ho­tels tells me, and that was my point in say­ing it was the last hur­rah.”

Mr Wil­son, who gave a speech at the end of the night to farewell the Al­bion, said Queen’s ‘Bo­hemian Rhap­sody’ had been planned as the fi­nal song.

“But peo­ple kept want­ing one more song, so it ended up be­ing Mum­ford and Sons’ ‘Lit­tle Lion Man’,” he said.

“Ev­ery­one sang it at the top of their voices, and the room was elec­tric.”

A CROWD rang­ing in age from 18 to up­ward of 60 sent Wangaratta’s Al­bion Ho­tel out in style on Satur­day night.

Dur­ing what is tipped to be its fi­nal out­ing as a night­club, an es­ti­mated 2200 pa­trons flowed through the Mur­phy Street pub’s three lev­els over the course of the night – a big in­crease on the usual Satur­day night crowd of 300 to 400.

Op­er­a­tor Steve Wil­son said a line-up which started to form around 11pm, as the Al­bion reached its ca­pac­ity of 500, even­tu­ally stretched to a cof­fee shop around 100m down the street, and was about five peo­ple wide.

The Grand Cen­tral, which Mr Wil­son owns along with the Northo in Spear­ing Street, also had a line-up for en­try that reached to­wards the Mur­phy/Reid Street in­ter­sec­tion.

While those in the Al­bion queue faced a 90 minute wait to join the party, Mr Wil­son said the mood in the line-up matched that of pa­trons at the pub through­out the night.

“It got to the point where it was one per­son in, one per­son out, but peo­ple un­der­stood this was a one-off event,” he said.

“It’s one of the best nights I’ve ever been in­volved in, ev­ery­one had a good feel­ing about it, and some were very nos­tal­gic.

“There were peo­ple in their 60s down to kids who are just 18, and even a few

Lots of peo­ple met their part­ners there - I met my part­ner in there - and over the years we’ve had a few mar­riage pro­pos­als at the pub, all sorts of stuff. - AL­BION HO­TEL OP­ER­A­TOR STEVE WIL­SON

PHO­TOS: Si­mone Kerwin

LINE-UP: Pa­trons queued for 90 min­utes for a chance to join the ‘last hur­rah’ for Mur­phy Street’s Al­bion Ho­tel last Satur­day night.

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