Albert Hall (Brisbane)

The first Albert Hall, situated in Adelaide Street between Edward and Albert Streets, opened in 1881.  Despite the proscenium and other ornamentations around the hall remaining incomplete, Albert Hall was opened on 20 September 1881 for three performances by the violinist, Herr August Wilhelmj, supported by the pianist Max Vogrich and the Mezzo-soprano Mari Conron (Brisbane Courier 20 Sep. 1881: 2).  “The new hall has been undoubtedly proved to possess excellent acoustic properties, and to be admirably suited for concerts or theatrical performances” (Brisbane Courier 21 Sep. 1881: 2).  With a seating capacity of 1000 it was used as a concert venue with sporadic dramatic performances occurring there as well.  In 1884 the building was remodelled to include a larger stage and renamed the Academy of Music, a title it was to keep only until 1886 when it was again renovated and renamed the Gaiety Theatre.  It was used as a parcels Post Office in 1899 and the site was purchase by Finney Isles who demolished it in 1909 to make way for extensions to their shop frontage on to Adelaide Street (Royal Historical Society of Queensland Bulletin 2).  Today this is the site where Target on the Mall stands.

The second Albert Hall opened in 1901; it was located on Albert Street between Ann and Turbot Streets.  The main function hall was on the second level while the first storey housed the offices of the Central Methodist Mission.  Albert Hall was a popular concert venue.  The space, however, became a popular venue for Brisbane’s flourishing little theatre companies to stage plays after it was remodelled in 1940 (Sunday Mail 28 Apr. 1969).  The original design for the hall held a capacity audience of 450; however, in 1940 the two storeys were incorporated into a new design to allow for 720 seats (Treading the Boards 33).  The Methodist Church employed Messrs H.M. Cook and W.J.E. Kerrison as the architects of the renovated site.  The design provided for new shops to stand on each side of the staircase leading to the hall.  The high gallery was lowered considerably and the auditorium floor sloped down to the stage.  “The lofty ceiling rises in terraced sections from a point above the stage to its highest point over the gallery” (Courier-Mail 27 Aug. 1940: 12).  By extending the building in two directions the modifications allowed for better dressing rooms, toilet facilities, and a new meeting room.  The hall was equipped at this time with a telephone system which enabled the stage crew to contact the people in the projector room which was above the gallery.  The wall above the stage was painted white and was adorned with a new electric clock (Courier-Mail 27 Aug. 1940: 12).  The Queensland Government purchased the site in 1969 and demolished it to make way for the new S.G.I.O. offices and the new S.G.I.O. Theatre (subsequently renamed the Suncorp Theatre).  The final performance held in Albert Hall was a Gala Revue on 28 April 1969.