I wrote and illustrated ‘The Good Old Kiwi Pub’. It was published in 1995 and was a snapshot of some New Zealand pubs as they were at the end of the 20th century. I have decided to share some of the entries from the book from time to time on this blog.Albany was called Lucas Creek until 1891. It was named after Daniel Lucas, a whaler who’d come ashore and set up a flax mill here before 1840. The name was changed because upright, decent settlers were unhappy about a reputation the hamlet had gained both for illegal whisky distilling and for harbouring deserting sailors and other ne’er-do-wells who, it seems, were able to melt into the background here while they earned a bob or two as labourers. The muddy, tidal stream that slides under State Highway No. 1 north of the village is still called Lucas Creek.
The Albany Inn is my local. It’s about four kilometres down Albany Hill from my place. It’s still called The Wayside Inn bv some people for it only changed its name a short time ago. While its architecture is hardly typical of the classical historic New Zealand pub, it has a certain solid dignity that gives it distinction and lifts it out of the ordinary. To my mind it’s an inviting sort of place with a touch of class about its shape and decor.
Local history sets 1847 as the year of the first pub in Lucas Creek. It was called The Wharfside Inn. It burned down in 1886, the same year that the first pub was built on what is now the site of the Albany Inn. It was built by William Stevenson, whose descendants still live in Albany and it was named The Bridge Hotel in honour of what turned out to be a succession of bridges which were repeatedly washed away by floods until something more reliable was constructed in 1906. The present, totally inadequate, concrete ‘Hotel Bridge’ has stood since 1935.
The Albany Inn was built in 1936 so it’s quite young. One hopes that it will, in future years, continue to be looked after as well as it is today for it represents that generation of good old Kiwi pubs that will succeed the pioneer classics of the nineteenth century.
© DON DONOVAN