New life for Turks Head Hotel building

13 May 2016

AlburyCity is seeking expressions of interest to turn the historic Turks Head Hotel building, which opened in 1840 as Albury’s first inn and hotel, into a restaurant, cafe, microbrewery or other business.

It is hoped the historic building and an adjacent building that was once a Visitor Information Centre can be turned into a business that will activate the two hectare space at the southern entrance into Albury.

Both the Turks Head Hotel building and the adjacent building that was a Visitor Information Centre, also known as the Australia Park Museum, are available to operate either together or separately.

The heritage classified building opened as the Union Bridge Hotel in 1840 and in 1967, was converted to a museum.

AlburyCity took over management of the building in 1983 and the museum closed in 2006. The exhibits were relocated to the LibraryMuseum and the Visitor Information Centre moved to the Albury Railway Station.

AlburyCity Mayor Henk van de Ven said the Turks Head Hotel was an important part of our history and that improvement works to its 15 rooms had revealed interesting original features.

During remedial work to improve the building, the original floor was restored and it was discovered that instead of brick footings there are original stone base walls which have now been restored.

Repairs to the ceiling by a specialist building conservation firm, Beechworth’s Period Building Conservation, revealed original 150-year-old shingled roof and a pit sawn timber structure of a very early construction method of which there are very few examples still remaining.  The structure has been preserved during the works.

Cr van de Ven said the Turks Head, which is on a 2ha site, deserved a new lease of life.

"We want the Turks Head buzzing and for it to attract visitors to the area and activate that space. That might be through a café, restaurant, microbrewery or something different," he said.

"This is a high profile destination that is being redeveloped under the Murray River Experience Masterplan. It’s a 21-year lease on an historic, high-profile building at the entrance to town, right next to the Murray River and we hope there will be significant interest.

"We want these heritage buildings to remain an active centrepiece in the social, cultural and economic development of this riverside precinct."

Expressions of interest close on 14 June.

Some remedial works have been undertaken to replace flooring and stumps, but further restoration works may be required before the buildings can be occupied depending on the planned usage by the successful tenderer.