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Published August 3rd 2016
It's a grand and stately building from a bygone era
Every Monday morning at the strike of 10 am by the GPO clock across the road, the Adelaide Town Hall tour has begun. A group of tourists and even some locals keen to see more of their city, gathers in the foyer at the grand sculpture of Queen Adelaide for this one hour guided tour. How many people must pass by here in a city frenzy, yet have never discovered the calmness and wonders that lie within.
The Town Hall is 150 years in 2016, built during the early European settlement of Adelaide. It was imperative to get a Town Hall built so management of the new city could begin. BuiIt in the classic Victorian style with grandeur and the best of decoration of the time. Here you will see painted plasterwork, ornate high ceilings and all original and now antique furniture. On the tour, you will be taken into the grand hall which has see many impressive functions over the years including concerts, conferences and elaborate wedding receptions. The venue can still be booked today for functions. This main hall is considered one of the best of five venues for symphony concerts in the world, so well worth going to hear the who call this venue home. The Town Hall is the home of the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra
The large tour group gasped in awe at the massive pipe organ, and I will not divulge just how big it is as this is all part of the little secrets that are revealed by your guide. I found it so impressive I have not included a photo here so you can see it for yourself. This is a newer organ replaced in 1989, with the original now moved to Tanunda.
Some of us found our guide a little hard to hear. Perhaps the council may look into purchasing one of those mini microphones the tour guides in Europe use which amplify the voice for the one in ten of us who have some hearing problems. None the less, the information upon standing a little closer, was informative and most interesting. There was much information given on a historical note, however I would have liked to hear some of how the council is run today and exactly how they manage running a city. The offices of the City of Adelaide are located in Pirie Street, but this is where the councilors meet in the grand old room full of oil paintings of founding fathers, and an antique clock which is running a little slow.
An interesting part of the tour was looking into all the different rooms. All decorated in superb painted plaster decorations. The side of this room looks as it is wood paneled, but is in fact a type of plaster wall covering and hand decorated with paint in a wood grain effect. This was a highly skilled trade in Colonial and Victorian eras, with the artist working the paint with feathers and fine brushes. This is a classic feature of a high-end Victorian era building.
The faux wood paneling is a lost art, and is a well preserved example here in this room. Image by Out and About
Other rooms included in the tour are the Queen Adelaide room with many fine antique treasures all encased in glass. The Colonel William Light Room is another meeting room with tables and chairs. Along the walls are some cabinets housing some fine artifacts belonging to Colonel William Light, who was the designer and surveyor of the city of Adelaide. At this stop, we heard a little about Light and how he was treated by the management of the time. He was not so liked as he was of mixed race and he had a mistress here in town and a wife back in England. In Victorian times he was shunned by society. He was paid very little for his work for his Adelaide design contract and after it's completion he started his own company with partner B.T. Finniss. They then went on to plan the town of Gawler, Glenelg and the original township of Marion. Some of his surveying equipment is here and a photograph of his house.
Light's survey equipment are prized treasures of the Town Hall. Image by Out and About
I highly recommend this tour for both visitors and residents. Also, check the exhibition space upstairs for current displays. This is an interesting tour inside one of our heritage buildings. The Town Hall tour is free but must be booked on the website here School and larger groups would need to make a telephone booking.