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Melbourne Town Hall

Christine Smith

Grovedale, Australia

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FEATURED in Australian Capital Cities 18-02-2012

Camera: Canon EOS 400D, Lens @ 17mm, ISO: 100, Aperture f9, Shutter: 1/160

The Melbourne Town Hall is a magnificent heritage listed building in Swanston Street, Victoria, Australia. Melbourne was officially incorporated as a town on 13 December 1842, however, it wasn’t until 1854 that its first modest Town Hall was completed. Begun in 1851, the work ground to a halt with the beginning of the Victorian gold rush. This modest building was demolished in the 1860s and the foundation stone of the current, grander Town Hall was laid on 29 November 1867 by the visiting Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh. Itofficially opened on 9 August 1870 with a lavish ball. The Town Hall was designed by the famous local architect Joseph Reed, in the Second Empire style. Reed’s designs also included the State Library of Victoria, the Royal Exhibition Building, and Melbourne Trades Hall. The building is topped by Prince Alfred’s Tower. The tower includes a 2.44 m diameter clock, which was started on 31 August 1874, after being presented to the council by the Mayor’s son, Vallange Condell. It was built by Smith and Sons of London. The longest of its copper hands measures 1.19 m long, and weighs 8.85 kg. The tower was named Prince Alfred’s Tower after the Duke of Edinburgh who, on his second visit to Melbourne in 1869, laid a capital on one of the columns of the Town Hall Clock Tower. The Duke was the first official guest in the soon-to-be-completed Town Hall. The foundation stone of the additional front portico on the Swanston Street frontage was laid in 1887, and Sir Henry Weedon laid the foundation of the administrative annex building in 1900. In 1925, a fire destroyed a large part of the town hall, including the main auditorium and pipe organ. It was rebuilt and enlarged, extending east over the site previously occupied by the Victoria Coffee Palace, an early temperance hotel frequented by Melbourne’s power brokers. The rebuilt section lost some of Reed’s original flourishes including the elaborate mansard roof. The Main Auditorium includes a magnificent concert organ, now comprising 147 ranks and 9,568 pipes. The organ was originally built by Hill, Norman & Beard (of England) in 1929 and was recently rebuilt and enlarged by Schantz Organ Company of the United States of America .

Artwork Comments

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