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Rockhampton Town Hall


Place Details
Place ID 601572
Registration Type State Heritage
Place Name Rockhampton Town Hall
Alternative Name Rockhampton City Hall
Rockhampton Council Chambers
Place Classification Landscape
Built
Place Category Government Administration
Place Type Hall - Town/City/Shire/Divisional Board
Themes 7 Maintaining order / 7.4 Local government
Register Entry Date 29/04/2003

Location
Address 232 Bolsover Street
Town / Suburb ROCKHAMPTON
Post Code 4700
LGA ROCKHAMPTON REGIONAL COUNCIL

Cultural Heritage Significance
Principal Period
of Significance
1930s-1940s (historical) 1939 - ongoing (social) 1940s (fabric)
Criterion A Rockhampton's Town Hall clearly demonstrates the evolution or pattern of Queensland history, in this case, purpose built for the needs of local government for the regional centre of Rockhampton.
Criterion D This Town Hall also demonstrates the principal characteristics of a building designed for the use, operation, and the tropical climate of this regional city council.
Criterion E This Town Hall also exhibits particular aesthetic characteristics valued by the local and broader community. It is prominent feature of the townscape of Rockhampton's city centre and is an substantial and imposing public building of articulated brickwork, incorporating stripped classical and art deco stylistic elements.
Criterion G This place has a strong association with the Rockhampton community for social and cultural reasons, as well as being the last major work by noted Rockhampton architect, Edwin Morton Hockings (1870-1942). Rockhampton's Town Hall also possesses a special association with the life, work and families of the City's council staff, mayors and aldermen.
Criterion H (Criterion under review)

History
History Rockhampton emerged as an important Queensland regional centre during the 1850s and 1860s. This development took on especial prominence after the discovery of the mining wealth at Mount Morgan in 1882. The additional affluence that flowed on for Rockhampton fuelled a rapid expansion of public and private buildings and residences throughout the City and surrounds. This building boom allowed for many grand places to be constructed, especially renowned along the commercial and government sector near the wharves on Quay Street, to the many elite residences found on 'The Range'. Despite this building expansion into the 1900s, Rockhampton never achieved a purpose built Town Hall until 1941. An 1878 reference to premises utilised by Rockhampton's Council, stated: "OUR MUNICPAL EDDIFICES are more useful than ornamental. The Council Chambers (by one aspiring Mayor denominated "Temporary Town Hall") are of wood and iron, lined, in an airy spot, and well verandahed; on an adjoining reserve the Fire Engine Shed, and Kerosene Store, are erected." It was not until 21 June 1897 before the first foundation stone for a future town hall was laid by a Rockhampton Mayor Mr Littler to mark the occasion of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee. At this occasion Mr Littler let it be known that the Council could not proceed immediately with the building, but felt that construction would probably be able to commence some time over the next ten years. As events turned out it wasn't until a much later Mayor laid a fresh foundation stone in 1939 that the task was truly commenced. In 1936 the City Council resurrected the idea for Rockhampton to get its own purpose built town hall. Though first muted back in 1897 and occasionally referred to in election speeches through the ensuing years, it wasn't until this year that the Council determined to invite designs for a new town hall. Seven designs were submitted by Rockhampton and Brisbane architects, but for various reasons, particularly financial, none of these designs were found satisfactory. It wasn't until an amended design, originally submitted by the Rockhampton architectural firm of Hockings and Palmer, was accepted and the contract let to the firm of John Hutchinson and Sons (of Brisbane), before construction was able commence. Edwin Morton Hockings (1870-1942) commenced his architectural career under the tutelage of Brisbane architect Richard Gailey. Hockings career took a major change in 1890 with his success in winning a design competition for the new Girls' Grammar School at Rockhampton. Though Gailey's firm took over the final design work, Hockings departed to Rockhampton as the firm's clerk of works. In 1895 he was elected an Associate of the Queensland Institute of Architects, and thereafter commenced his own practice in Rockhampton from where he made his design mark throughout Central Queensland. Hockings saw service and was wounded in the Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), where he commanded a Squadron of the Third Queensland Contingent. In this period he also formed a productive partnership (Hutton and Hockings, Architects and Building Surveyors) with A.M. Hutton, 1898-1904. Hockings went on the serve in the early part of World War One, but again returned to an architectural profession, forming another successful partnership (Hockings and Palmer) in Rockhampton with L.T. Palmer, 1916-1938. Hockings went on to form a final partnership with his son, Thomas Hocking (E.M. and T. Hockings/Hockings and Son), 1939-40. Edwin Morton Hockings survived to see the completion of his last major work, Rockhampton's Town Hall, and died in Rockhampton on 21 December 1942. On 25 February 1939, Rockhampton's Mayor Mr R.Will Evans (1936-43), turned the first sod for the start of work on the new Town Hall, followed a month later (on 25 March) by the laying of the foundation stone. Progress though was delayed, mainly the result of a temporary shortage of building materials and wet weather particularly during the construction of the foundations. The cost of construction of this new Town Hall was approximately £50,000, and in the end took two years to complete "this massive block, which in size, design and appointments surpasses any civic centre in Queensland outside of Brisbane." During World War 2 a great deal of responsibility rested on the shoulders of the two war-time Mayors, R. Will Evans (1936-43) and Henry Jeffries (1943-52). From August 1942, Rockhampton's Town Hall became the headquarters for General Eichelberger and the 41st Division of the United States Army. Rockhampton's City Council virtually placed the City at the disposal of army authorities, both Australian and American, and so in turn contributed to Australia's defence during the Pacific Campaign (1941-45). Today Rockhampton's Town Hall continues to function as the hub of the City's local government authority and operations.

Description
Description Rockhampton's Town Hall, addressing Bolsover Street in the city centre, is an imposing two storey brick building on a granite plinth, which contains the town hall and offices. The freestanding building sits within expansive grounds known as the Town Hall Reserve. These grounds, being mostly level, have simple designs of lawns and mature trees including plantings of Cuban Royal Palms (Roystonea regia), Traveller's Palms (Ravenala madagascariensis), and other species. All four of the building's facades are similar symmetrical articulated planes of face brickwork with projecting bays, stepped parapet and verandahs to both levels for most of the perimeter (although many of the verandah areas have been infilled). Whilst the principal façade addresses Bolsover Street, the building's other three facades can be viewed from Derby, Alma and William Streets, although other buildings sit within the block. The articulation of the brickwork and set out of openings reflects classical proportions of columns, spandrels, balustrades and entablatures. The facades are stepped, both horizontally in the projecting and recessing of façade bays, as well as vertically in the parapet. The brickwork is laid in a version of Flemish bond, with two stretchers and one header alternating in each course. Darker bricks emphasise string courses, opening lintels and sills, and the parapet capping. The main entrance, centred on the north-eastern Bolsover Street façade, is approached by a broad flight of granite steps, returned at each end. Over this entrance is a cantilevered awning clad in bronze which carries the City's coat of arms. Above the awning is a small balcony opening from the Council Chamber and over that is a clock of ceramic tiles. Inside the glazed entrance doors, the entrance foyer has a marble dado to doorhead height and a high plaster ceiling with broad cornice. From the entrance foyer, the main stair of polished timber has a broad lower flight to a mid landing, then quarter-turn upper flights on both sides. Above the upper flights is a clerestory window lighting the stair and the upper foyer. The Council Chamber, reached from the upper foyer, has high dadoes of timber panelling, parquetry flooring and a high plaster ceiling with cornices between exposed beams.

Element
Element Name Rockhampton Town Hall
Designer Name Hockings & Palmer
Style Classicism
Design Period 1919 - 1930s Interwar period
Builder Name Hutchinson, John
Construction Period 1939 - 1941
Construction Method Unknown
Fabric (Exterior Structure) Brick - face
Roof Form Parapet front
Place Components Foyer - entrance
Council chamber/meeting room
Furniture/Fittings
Office/s
Garden/Grounds
Views to
Trees/Plantings

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Last updated: 15 March 2013

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