The first Port Albert church was built on a site near Market Street (now Bennett Street) in 1864. In the 1880s, a new church was erected in Church Hill Road so the original was extended and used as a public hall. In 1887, a large Temperance Hall was built at the crossroads leading to Wharehine and Port Albert wharf. Later, the first little hall was sold, pulled down and rebuilt as a private residence. The Temperance Hall was the venue for agricultural shows, dances, meetings and the annual 29 May Albertlanders reunions. On March 28, 1913, it was totally destroyed by fire. The building was insured for around £200 but its value was far greater.
A new hall was built on a flat site about a mile away. The Auckland Star reported on 5 April 1915 that the hall Trustees had met and the secretary reported that the £200 required to finish the building had all been raised locally. The tender of the New Zealand Acetylene Gas Co for lighting was accepted. Arrangements had been made to have seats made by a local tradesman. On 27 May 1915 the Reverend William Gittos officiated at building’s opening. Auckland entertainers were brought in and people came from many miles to celebrate.
Since then, the hall has been the entertainment hub of the district. A wonderful old building, beautifully maintained by volunteers, it is now 100 years old and plans are in place for year-long birthday celebration.
The first of these will take place on Sunday 29 May 2016, marking 154 years since the first Albertland settlers left the East India Docks for New Zealand. The Port Albert Hall Committee and Albertland Museum are joining forces to host a relaxed, fun afternoon. Guests will learn a little about the early history of the hall and life 100 years ago. This event begins with a luncheon and live entertainment at 12 noon. At 2pm, the Albertland Museum will present their annual Lantern Slide Show, this year focussing on the history of the three Port Albert halls.
Tickets for the luncheon and slide show are $15, available from Albertland & Districts Museum – open 11am-3pm Mon-Sat and 1pm-3pm Sunday (Eftpos available) or phone 423 8181 (for payment by internet banking). Those attending only the Lantern Slide Show, entry is gold coin at the door. Come along for an enjoyable and entertaining event.