Contractor known as ‘Boxhead’ working away on the Albion Hotel. Removing rubble from a jack-hammered entrance to the Albion, Marc, best known to his friends by his nickname “Boxhead”.

The southern end of Cootamundra’s main street will take on an exciting new vibe this summer with the completion of a major refurbishment of the Albion Hotel. After a slow start with plans and development approvals, work on turning the once-grand building into a glamorous new attraction is now moving along well.

Completion is expected by December and bookings are al ready coming in for the festive season. “It’s a massive overhaul,” said Ellana Bickerdike, spokeswoman for the developers, Cootamundra Constructions.

“Our team has been removing walls and ceilings and making the building fire-compliant to today’s standards.

“It won’t be anything like it was before—everything will be new and we’ll have a really beautiful restaurant that will serve the community well and give townspeople another dining option.

“We’ll have a family-friendly beer garden with a kids’ play area, TAB facilities and a bistro and public bar and 26 rooms for accommodation, all with completely new fitout.” In addition to these more traditional hotel features, the Albion will include a venue for live performing arts, catering for musicians and entertainers from Cootamundra, the Riverina and beyond.

There will also be an events space where people can book conferences, meetings or birthdays and even a recording studio and music school. The remaking of the Albion is the latest in an impressive series of accomplishments by Cootamundra businessman Tony Taylor.

After establishing Taylor’s Windows in Cootamundra, Tony branched out to expand the business to Queanbeyan, and met with great success. Over the same period he established Cootamundra Constructions, which has been developing new subdivisions in Cootamundra on property on the outskirts of town owned by his family

notably the Boundary Road subdivision now under construction.

During the expansion of his business he has made it an important principle to spend locally wherever possible, whether it is signage or furniture or carpets, to keep the circular economy going. Tony bought the hotel from former proprietor Alan Mitchell at the end of last year, for an undisclosed sum.

As the renovations have progressed workers have been finding historical relics in places such as wall cavities where they haven’t seen the light of day since the last major renovation.

Some of the old finds have included cigarette packets, matchboxes, old newspapers, love letters, an old pair of bicycle shoes, hand-painted signs and even the original plans for the building stamped in pounds and shillings. All the relics have been kept to one side and they are looking for ways to include them in a time capsule.

“Hopefully in the next 80 years when someone wants to undergo another major refurbishment they’ll find the time capsule and see some parts of our history,” Ellana said.

Tony Taylor’s practice of using local contractors and suppliers wherever possible has already provided a healthy boost to employment in Cootamundra and generated income opportunities for suppliers, and the local employment benefits will continue when the hotel reopens.

“We’ll be slowly looking at employing staff, and that will be a challenge, finding the ‘dream team’ to take us forward,” Ellana said.

“We’ll have approximately 20 positions available generating income and jobs for the community so I think it will serve the community well as a whole.

“The dynamics of hotels have changed. These days you want places that are family friendly, where mum and dad can enjoy a nice meal and a nice glass of wine while the kids are also occupied.

“That’s really important to us, as well as providing top notch accommodation for people coming through town on short term visits. “The rooms will be brand new and this will give another option to what’s currently available.

“It will be more than just a pub—

we’ll have a venue with a lot of different things happening and hopefully it will be well utilised by the local community.”