Far from being intimidated by the skyscrapers that surround it, the Albert stands proud against its bland Victoria Street neighbours. A survivor of the Blitz and 1960’s redevelopment, it has served its purpose since 1862. Built on the site of a pub called the Bluecoat Boy, it was named in honour of Queen Victoria’s husband, the Prince Consort. The large ground-floor bar is smart, comfortable and bright; the huge etched and cut glass windows (some replaced) allow the daylight to flood in. Other classic Victorian pub features include a heavy, highly polished mahogany bar counter which is topped with a period clock. An ornate staircase leads to the restaurant. On the walls hang portraits of British Prime Ministers, from Salisbury, to an autographed one of Tony Blair. Mrs Thatcher unveiled her own. Members of Parliament often dine here and for their convenience a division bell is installed.
The Albert is popular with tourists and coach parties empty into the large pub. Local workers frequent the pub too, and it can be very busy at peak times. Away from the road, some steps to the side of the pub lead to a quieter, less used saloon bar. There is a good selection of bar meals and a carvery restaurant serves a wide choice of traditional British roasts on weekday lunchtimes and evenings from 5.30pm and all day at weekends. There’s a good choice of well kept real ales too. The original sign has been replaced with a caricature, which is a pity. When Prince Albert died prematurely at 42, the depth of Queen Victoria’s grief affected her ability to reign. The whole nation was affected by the tragedy more than any royal death since.