Strathfield Town Hall c.1960

Strathfield Town Hall

by Cathy Jones

The Strathfield Town Hall faces Redmyre Road Strathfield near the intersection of Homebush Road. The Town Hall is nearly 100 years old and has for many decades provided a civic and community space for meetings, activities, performance and commemorative events.

When the Strathfield Council Chambers were designed and built in 1887, it was envisaged that a Town Hall would later be built as an addition to the Council Chambers building.  The original Council Chambers building contained a room for council meetings and offices for the administrative staff.  The building was not large but has been extended on many occasions.

Land located behind the Council Chambers facing Redmyre Road was reserved for a Town Hall or large public building capable of seating 500 or 600 people, however the Town Hall was not built until 1923 (Daily Telegraph 1887 November 3).  In the meantime, the Council Chambers were used for various activities and at times called referred to as the Strathfield Town Hall, though the Chambers lacked sufficient space for large meetings, social events and activities.

At a meeting in 1893, the Council received correspondence from the architectural firm of Sulman and Power (Sulman being the original architect of the Strathfield Council Chambers) ‘stating that “the original plans of the Town Hall, with proposed additions, were still in their possession, and they would be pleased to meet the council on the subject of the completion of the building’ (SMH 1893 Nov. 24).  Another request was presented in 1897 by architects George Sydney Jones and Charles Slayter, both residents of Strathfield, suggesting that ‘plans for alterations and additions to the Town Hall be asked for from all architects resident in the district’ (SMH 1897 July 14).  The Council considered that the project was sufficiently advanced to call for plans to be prepared, most likely the Council was unprepared to fund this project without financial assistance or from the NSW  Government (then a colonial government prior to 1901). Other reports were made over time concerning plans for a Town Hall but projects did not advance past conceptional stages due to financial considerations.

In a 1910 article appeared in the Evening News that stated that despite preparation of plans for a Town Hall by Mr. Kemp, architect, and a number of tenders, ranging in price from £1299 to £1900, were received, the building did not proceed due to financial reasons (Evening News 1910 July 5)..  Alderman Parsons stated that ‘a good hall was badly needed, and would pay well from the time of Its erection.  At present the residents. If they wished to hold a ball or similar function, had to hire a hall at Ashfield or Burwood’ (Evening News 1910 July 5).  Approval was granted to form a committee, however, it does not appear that this resolution resulted in much action, likely further delayed by resources diverted to actions supporting efforts during and post-World War 1 into the 1920s.

On 29 June 1922, Council finally resolved to build a Town Hall at the rear of the Council Chambers building and invited architect Harry Kent to submit sketches (Council minutes 1922 June 29).  Kent was a well-known Sydney architect but a long-standing Strathfield resident and former Alderman of Strathfield Council. At a Special Meeting of Council on 17 August 1922, the Council approved approved the sketch plan by Kent and requested submission of full plans.  The estimated cost of the improved were between £3,000 to £4000 and secured by a loan to be paid allocated of £1500 from current year revenue and instalments in 1923 and 1924 (Council 1922 August 17).  However, it was later reported that the total cost of the build and fitout totalled £6000 (Sun 1922:15).  The builders of the Town Hall were Kell & Rigby (Kell 1992).

strathfield-town-hall-1923-september-20-daily-telegraph.jpg
Strathfield Town Hall featured in The Daily Telegraph September 20 1923

The Strathfield Town Hall opened on 9 October 1923 with a dinner of the Mayor and dignitaries.  The account of the opening featured in the Sydney Morning Herald on 10 October 1923.

“To celebrate the official opening of the recently completed Town Hall at Strathfield a dinner was held in the building last night. The Mayor (Alderman Wallis) presided, and among the guests were Mr. P. E. Coleman, M.P., Mr. J. H. Wise, M.L.C., Sir Thomas Henley, Mr. E. J. Loxton, Mr. R. Greig, and Mr. G. Cann, M.L.A., Alderman G. S. Blair (Mayor of Burwood), Alderman Stewart (Mayor of Homebush), Alderman Wyatt (Mayor of Lidcombe), and Mr. J. Garlick (Under-Secretary for Local Government).

Alderman Kessell, in proposing the toast of the State and Federal Parliaments, said he questioned whether New South Wales was getting fair treatment from the Commonwealth in respect of the Federal capital, Customs administration, and the closing of the mint. Mr. Coleman, acknowledging the toast, said he believed the Federal capital compact should be honoured, and was going to be honoured, as the antagonism of a small Victorian section had been broken down. The closing down of the mint was altogether unjustified. The administration of the Customs Department should be conducted in New South Wales, where the principal seaport was. Mr. B. R. Gelling, supported by Mr. E. A. Laurence, proposed “Success to the Municipality of Strathfield,” the Mayor (Alderman F. J. Wallis) responding.” (SMH 1923)

A ball was held on October 11 1923 to celebrate the opening of the Town Hall and to raise funds for the Strathfield War Memorial Fund (The Sun 1923).

The Strathfield Town Hall has been used for a wide variety of activities over many decades including civic activities eg meetings, citizenship, Council events as well as community uses eg meetings, receptions, dances, religious services, musical concerts and stage performances.

References

Kell, A., ‘A brief history of Kell & Rigby [Builders] Pty Ltd’, Strathfield District Historical Society vol. 15 no. 11, Nov-Dec 1992

Malcolm, C.S., Strathfield Council Chambers, Strathfield District Historical Society Newsletter Vol. 2 No. 3 October 1979.

News in Picture (1923, September 20). The Daily Telegraph (Sydney, NSW : 1883 – 1930)</i>, p. 10. Retrieved May 2, 2022, from http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article246062600

Strathfield Council, (1887, April 19), Meeting Minutes of Council meeting

Strathfield Council (1922, August 17), Minutes of Special Meeting of Council

Strathfield Council Chambers (1887, November 3), Daily Telegraph, p.2

Strathfield Town Hall. (1923, October 2). The Sun, p.15.

Strathfield. (1893, November 24). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 3.

Strathfield. (1897, July 14). The Sydney Morning Herald, p. 11.

‘Town Hall for Strathfield’. (1910, July 5), Evening News, p. 4

Strathfield Council Valuation Books.

“Strathfield Town Hall”, Sydney Morning Herald, 10 Oct 1923, page 14.

Sydney Morning Herald, 1 November 1877

© Cathy Jones 2022.  This article is subject to copyright and may not be reproduced without permission of the author.

Citation:  Jones, C (2022), Strathfield Town Hall, https://strathfieldheritage.com/local-government/council/strathfield-town-hall/

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