Bridgeport Hotel redevelopment: Murray Bridge pub's front bar shuts, remainder to stay open until September

Last drinks were called in the Bridgeport Hotel's front bar on Friday night as its 134-years of service came to a temporary end.

The iconic Murray Bridge pub - which opened on January 2, 1885 - will soon be demolished to make way for a six-storey, 99-room replacement.

Its bistro, side bar and bottle shop will keep trading until September, and a transportable building will serve as a temporary pub during the 18 months of construction that will follow.

But several dozen punters still thought to gather in the front bar and toast the end of an era.

Stories were told of the rough old days at the venue: fights, chairs thrown through windows, and a crowd so thick that punters drank beers from the drive-through while they lined up and waited to get inside.

Former bar, gaming room and bottle shop manager Matt Chant said he had started working in the bar at 16: "doing dishes, stuff out the back, wherever they needed me".

"I pretty much grew up in this front bar," he said.

"It was a pretty iconic bar, too, the second-longest in SA until they did the renovations."

Looking forward to the new Bridgeport was Craig Allen, who said he had tried to get more of the old-school blokes together, "but they're all dead now".

"I went up to the rooms the other day; I hadn't been up there in 40 years and nothing's changed," he said.

"I think it's a very good step forward, and we need it."

Dennis Duthie said he had been drinking in the front bar for 35 years, and worked behind it in the 1970s.

No-one could confirm whether he was misty-eyed as he looked around the place for the last time.

"It won't be the same," he said.

"But it'll be a good thing for Murray Bridge."

EDP Hotels director Ian Tregoning said the new drive-through bottle shop being built in the hotel's former car park was due to open in early September, and that the rest of the Bridgeport's current building would close at that time.

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