Richard Lewis

Richard Lewis


    Heritage listing for Albany Town Hall

    15/06/1996 12:00 AM



    Albany's first civic building, the historic Town Hall, has been listed on the State Register of Heritage Places.


    Heritage Minister Richard Lewis made the announcement this week explaining that the Town Hall had been listed on an interim basis following a recommendation by the Heritage Council of Western Australia.


    Mr Lewis said the Town Hall, with its distinctive clock tower and prominent location on the corner of York and Grey Streets, was an Albany landmark.


    "The Town Hall is highly prized by the local community for its long role as the principal public building in Albany," he said.


    "This type of building was common in major towns of WA, but relatively few of these buildings still exist.


    "Despite being more than a century old, it continues to be used by the public, now as an art gallery and theatre."


    Mr Lewis said the Municipality of Albany came into being in 1871 and the decision to build a town hall was made in the early 1880s.


    "This decision was met with controversy due to the lack of an appropriate building site and poor finances," he said.


    "The hall was to be built on Government land promised by the Governor, but none proved suitable.


    "Early attempts to raise money failed and eventually the Council bought a site for £650, with the Governor contributing a further £500."


    Albany Town Hall's foundation stone was laid on December 9, 1886 and the building was opened by Mayor William Grills Knight about 18 months later.


    The town hall clock was not started until 3 pm on April 15, 1891.


    A granite and stucco two-storey building surmounted by a clock tower, the Town Hall was designed in a Victorian Free Classical style.


    The clock tower is centrally located on the front facade and is a prominent feature of the streetscape. Stucco ornamentation over and around the main entrance leads the eye directly up the centre of the front facade to the clock tower, copper roof and flagpole.


    Mr Lewis said since construction, Albany Town Hall had been a venue for entertainment, public meetings and indoor sports.


    It was first used as a picture theatre in 1911 and an upper gallery was added two years later to increase seating.


    In 1981, the council commenced a million-dollar project to convert the hall into a theatre, which opened in 1986.


    "Since then, Albany Town Hall has become the focal point for Albany's performing arts groups," Mr Lewis said.


    "It is an extremely popular venue and more than 100 performances are staged each year, including concerts, plays, seminars, trade shows and movies.


    "It also functions as a meeting place for town social groups.


    "The Town Hall has strong historic links with the early growth and development of Albany and with many of the key figures involved in the municipal activities of the town.


    "It is a much-loved building in the community and deserves the protection of the State's heritage laws."


    Media contact : Bronwyn Hillman 222 9595, 221 1377