In 1878 Albury had one hotel to 125 persons. The population in 1881 was approximately 3,900 residents. The North East Railway connecting Melbourne to Wodonga was completed in 1873. It was 7 years later that the Great Southern Railway was completed, connecting Sydney to Albury.
With the travel route being opened between Sydney and Melbourne, Albury began to flourish with the opportunity to provide travellers with overnight accomodation in close proximity to the railway station. As a result four new hotels were designed by architects Gordon & Gordon and duly constructed. The Golden Fleece Hotel at 491 David St, Terminus Hotel on the corner of Dean and Young St, Commercial Hotel and the Railway Hotel, both located in Smollett St close to the railway station.
By 1883 the Melbourne line from Wodonga across the Murray river to Albury was completed. This allowed passengers to change trains for they long journey through to Sydney.
The Railway Hotel was second closest to the new station building. Tenders were called in March 1880 for the new owner Fanny Douglas. Constructed as a single story brick building on the north-west corner of Smollett and Macauley Streets the new hotel was opened for business.
it was first licensed to James Pool in 1881 until his death in 1883. His wife Jane took control and held the license until 1885 at which point she left to take up the license for the recently completed Railway Commercial Hotel.
Ellen Cottrell then took the license and lasted only a short time before she was replaced by James Hoban.
Joseph James Brady took the license in 1887. He held it for the next 10 years before handing over to Thomas Cooper and then Henry Peacock.
In 1886 Harriet Camplin succeeded Peacock and held the license until 1900. It is unknown at this stage who the owner of the hotel was. Reference to a submission to council requesting the addition of asphalt to the footpath in 1905 by Joseph James Brady suggests that he was the owner at the time. At some stage afterward the hotel must have been transferred to Mrs Honora Waterstreet, who then transferred back to Joseph Brady in 1911.
Joseph Brady was granted permission for a new hotel to be built on the same site in 1911. Plans were submitted for a new 2 storey brick building. The existing single story building was demolished except for the old band room adjoining the pub, commencing in January 1912. While the re-building of the hotel was in progress, John Seymour was the licensee and tasked with operating a bar from the old band room. The new hotel was designed by architect Mr Thompson and constructed by Cochranes at a cost of between 1,100 and 1,200 pounds and to be completed within 12 weeks.
For the next 7 years it appears that John Seymour was the licensee until December 1919 when it was transferred back to Joseph Brady. At that time Sergeant Kersley, the licensing inspector, opposed the transfer. Evidence of good character was given by Charles Hunter Griffith (stock & station agent), George Arthur Thompson (merchant), Alfred Waugh (Mayor of Albury) and George Sutherland Adams (newspaper proprietor). Police objections were withdrawn and the application was granted. In February 1920 Joseph Brady renovated and refurbished the Railway Hotel.
By May 1921 Joseph Brady transferred the license to John Ambrose Ryan. Tragically in March 1022 Joseph Brady lost his wife Wilhelmina at the age of 30 to diabetes, leaving behind 5 young sons. It is known that P.M. Saunders was licensee in 1927 and Charles James Clout up until May 1931, when Joseph Brady applied for and resumed the license. In 1936 it was recorder that Thomas Peter Wilson took over the license.
Further research is required to fill in the years past the mid 1930’s until the eventual sale of the hotel in the mid 1990’s from the Brady family.
In 1938 the Golden Fleece Hotel was demolished, having been closed as a hotel in 1922. The Terminus Hotel was damaged by fire in the late 1990’s and later demolished and replaced with a 1st Choice Liquor store. The Commercial Hotel was sold and later converted into apartments.
This leaves Brady’s Railway hotel as the only remaining hotel south of Smollett St. It is an iconic working class and family hotel located one block south of the main street of Albury.