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The Prince Albert Hotel, built in 1852 is an example of a Victorian hotel and public house. Built on the corner of Wright and Lowe Street, it was associated with the Dreyer family, who originally migrated from Germany. It operated as a family business between 1852 and 1976. It also has connections with the South Australian Brewing Company and the Walkerville Co-operative Brewing Company.

The Prince Albert Hotel, named after the German consort of Queen Victoria, was built in around 1851. Unlike other hotels, the Prince Albert did not undergo extensive re-building during the construction boom between 1865 and 1885. The building was extended west along Wright Street and north along Lowe Street, and the building was refaced in the 1880s. The veranda was added in about 1890.

The hotel’s owner, Ludwig Dreyer came to Adelaide with his family in the early 1850s. He was granted a licence for his hotel in 1852, following two unsuccessful applications. Ludwig’s son and daughter-in-law, William and Eliza, took over the management of the hotel. Eliza continued to run the pub for another 30 years after her husband’s death in 1898 at the age of 58.

Eliza Dreyer is a notable example of a female hotelier in South Australia. She was the only woman in the syndicate of publicans who formed the Walkerville Co-operative Brewing Company (which was later absorbed into the Walkerville Brewing Company). Her two sons, Stanley and Gordon, owned and managed the Hotel Metropolitan on Grote Street. They were charged in 1909 for selling alcohol on a Sunday, to which Eliza reportedly said, 'Bad luck, but I would not tell a lie about it'. She was also active as a committee member of the District Nursing Association.  She died in 1926. The Dreyer family continued to own the hotel until 1976.

The Prince Albert Hotel exemplifies the pub culture of the nineteenth century, not only in being a local venue for the sale of alcohol, but also in having been a site for meetings and community organisations such as the Oddfellows. From 1855 onwards, it became a popular venue for public meetings for local council elections.  

By Vedrana Budimir, History Trust of South Australia

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Image: pencil drawing of people on the street outside the Prince Albert Hotel
Image: A group of men standing in front of the Prince Albert Hotel. Three women are standing on the balcony.
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