Situated on the corner of Tamar and Cimitiere Streets, the Albert Hall is owned by Council and operated by the Hotel Grand Chancellor. The Great Hall, Tamar Valley and John Duncan rooms are hired for a vast array of events, from school balls, university graduations and awards nights, to antiques fairs, concerts and major conferences. There is also an adjacent cafe overlooking City Park.
Built in 1891 to house the Tasmanian Industrial Exhibition, the Albert Hall is one of Launceston's most significant heritage buildings. The corner stone was laid by Samuel John Sutton, Esq. Mayor of Launceston on 2 April 1890. The exhibition itself was designed to ease the social misery caused by the depression of the 1880s. The opening ceremony in November, 1891, was preceded by a parade 10 city blocks long, led by the Mayor John Gould on a white horse.
The historic Brindley organ
The Brindley organ is situated in the Great Hall, was featured in the celebrations. "Nearly 2000 pipes, 30 pedals, 27 stops and a million parts seemed like a lot of trouble to go to create a single musical instrument".
It is Australia's largest surviving organ pre-dating 1860, a rare example of the work of organ builder Charles Brindley and is the oldest community organ. Built of local timbers including blackwood and huon pine, the organ's bellows are lined with original kangaroo skin.
Believed to be the only one of its type in the world when installed in the Mechanics Institute, the organ originally was hand blown "by two strong men or one exceptionally strong man". In being relocated to the Albert Hall, it was later powered by water and has since been adapted to run on electricity, with water as a backup.