THE ALBERT HOTEL
Victoria Lane, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, HD1 2QF
The current building dates from 1879, but it replaces an earlier Albert Hotel which was opened in 1853. Just where the claim, which now adorns its frontage, that it dates from 1777 comes from I am unsure - Albert would have been an unusual name for an eighteenth century hotel in Britain. The architect responsible for the current building was Edward Hughes, a noted local architect who was also responsible for the Ramsden Building which is now the central feature of the University of Huddersfield. Situated in the centre of town, adjacent to the Town Hall, the Albert Hotel has long played an important role in Huddersfield history and it was in one of the meeting rooms of the pub that Huddersfield Town Football Club was founded in 1908. The pub has been recently restored to its full Victorian glory.
It was 12.20 on a busy weekday when I entered the Albert Hotel. The streets of Huddersfield town centre were full of shoppers and office workers, but sadly the pub was deserted except for me and the barman. The recent refurbishment has created a smart interior of dark red leather seats, cast-iron tables and a fine dappled carpet, all of which deserved a larger audience to appreciate it. The barman serves me a pint of Timothy Taylor "Landlord". We did not speak, he was talking to someone on his mobile phone and I was deep in yet another depressing contemplation of the decline of the British pub. On embarking on my alphabetical tour of Yorkshire pubs, I ask myself the question as to whether there will be any left by the time I get to the letter Z. Time will tell.
At 12.30 another customer comes in. He sits at the other end of a leather bench seat, drinking his pint and, like me, making notes in a notebook. Perhaps he too is examining the Decline and Fall of the British Pub. Together we must look like eccentric bookends at either end of our bench seat. The barman sits on one of the bar stools and watches the television bolted to one of the walls. My note-taking companion watches the barman. I watch my note-taking friend. We are like characters from a Samuel Becket play, cocooned in our own unique version of reality. Perhaps we are waiting for Godot, but perhaps we are just waiting for yet another fine English pub to close its doors for the final time.