2200 patrons bid farewell to Albion
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
LINE-UP: Patrons queued for 90 minutes for a chance to join the ‘last hurrah’ for Murphy Street’s Albion Hotel last Saturday night.