The Club’s rooms were originally located at the Club Hotel (now the site of Atura Hotel) on the corner of Dean and Elizabeth Streets. The Albury Club was in fact one of the first thirty clubs in NSW and was exempt from the Licensing Act until about 1912, when private clubs lost their privileges and all registered clubs were brought into line under one Act.
The first clubhouse was built on its present site and opened in 1877. This small, four-roomed brick building was set well back from the street to allow for a few hitching posts for horses. The Club was at the northern end of the township because the made roads of the day only reached as far as Wilson Street.
Leafing through the pages of the Club’s Centenary publication* is something of a social history lesson. By 1897, there were 49 members and by 1906 membership had increased to 79. In 1915, gaslights went out and electricity came in. In 1920, more land was acquired (the current driveway and garden area). In 1934, major alterations and improvements were made and more land was bought (the present car park). The 1940s were a busy time: the squash court was built, the piano was acquired and new furnishings arrived. The timing of this refurbishment reflects the fact that during World War II (from 1941 to 1944) the Army took over the Club facilities and the Club temporarily relocated to the Beehive Chambers in Dean Street.
The previously unimaginable idea of having ladies present at Club social events gained ground as younger members returned from WWII, bringing with them changing attitudes and the Club adjusted accordingly. Ladies had to wait until 1968 for ‘modern facilities’ to be provided, so they could comfortably have lunch and be entertained in the Strangers Room.
Many of the present club facilities came about as a result of ideas put down in the Suggestion Book, recorded as far back as 1892. Sadly, many Club records were lost during the Army occupation, but a strong affiliation with the local military continues today.
The leadlight ceiling in the Member’s Bar was ingeniously designed to extract smoke from the room in the ‘good old days’ of cigars and cigarettes. The leadlight panel above the Function Bar area depicts Albury’s iconic War Memorial – a sight the lift operator at the old Mate’s department store building must have seen a thousand times as this was the original home of the panels.
It is only in recent years that the Club has hosted functions for non-members and until that time three magnificent full-size billiard tables had pride of place in the President’s Room. The special supports for these incredibly heavy tables with their slabs of slate can still be seen on the dance floor.
The Albury Club continues to provide members, their families and guests with a retreat from everyday life, enabling them to relax in a friendly atmosphere. For some local families this is a tradition that has extended over three, and even four generations so far and is likely to carry on for many more to come.
* 1877-1977 Centenary booklet of the Club’s history, compiled by Alex Sellars, provides much of the information for this page.