Erskineville Town Hall

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Erskineville Town Hall
Erskineville Town Hall in 2006.
Former namesSouth Sydney City Council Chambers
General information
TypeGovernment town hall
Architectural styleInter-war Neo-Georgian style.
Address104 Erskineville Road
Town or cityErskineville, New South Wales
Coordinates33°53′58″S 151°11′00″E / 33.8993796°S 151.1833458°E / -33.8993796; 151.1833458
Construction started1937
ClientErskineville Municipal Council
OwnerSydney City Council (current)
Design and construction
ArchitectLindsay Gordon Scott
Main contractorC. Hayter and Son

The Erskineville Town Hall is a landmark civic building in Erskineville, a suburb of Sydney, Australia. It stands at 104 Erskineville Road. It was opened in 1938 in the Inter-war Georgian revival style by Lindsay Gordon Scott. The Town Hall was the seat of Erskineville Municipal Council from 1938 to 1948 and was the seat of the South Sydney Councils from 1968 to 1982 and 1989 to 2003. Since 2004 the town hall has been a community centre for the City of Sydney servicing the local area.

History and description[edit]

The original Erskineville Town Hall was built on an adjacent site in the 1880s following the incorporation of the Macdonaldtown Municipal Council in 1872. The original town hall replaced a small building which had been used for meetings since incorporation, described in The Sydney Morning Herald as one the could "scarcely be termed a council-chamber, much less a town hall. An insignificant weatherboard structure, about 50ft by 16ft, containing one apartment only, is all the accommodation possessed. In it the council clerk transacts the ordinary business of the borough, and it also does duty as a council-chamber."[1] The purpose-built Victorian style design Town Hall was designed by architects, Drake and Walcott, who had also designed the Leichhardt Town Hall and were commissioned by the council in March 1889.[2] Built by Thomas Johnson, of Ultimo, the hall was completed in 1890 and the council first met there in February 1890.[3] In 1893, Macdonaldtown was subdivided and the suburb of Erskineville was established, with the name changing to be the "Erskineville Municipal Council".

Second Town Hall[edit]

"Proposed New Town Hall At Erskineville", as it appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald on 1 December 1936.

By the 1930s, with the announcement of the widening and realignment of Erskineville Road, the Victorian-era town hall was set to be demolished. As a consequence, Erskineville Council commissioned plans for a new town hall on a site adjacent to the old hall.[4] In 1936, an initial design by Sydney Architect Lindsay Gordon Scott was accepted. This design was an ambitious one, including two stories and a 75-foot-high clock tower.[5] This design however was found to be too expensive and grand for a small municipality in a primarily working-class area of Sydney and was revised to be the current design of a single storey building without the tower in a similar red brick Georgian revival style. In a tribute to the former council chambers, glass from the original town hall was incorporated into the new offices.[4]

Mayor Elliott laying the foundation for the new Town Hall, 1 December 1937.

On 1 December 1937, the Mayor of the council, Alderman J. W. Elliott, laid the foundation stone and nearly year later, on 26 November 1938, the Secretary for Public Works and Minister for Local Government, Eric Spooner MLA, officially opened Erskineville Town Hall with the Mayor at that time, Alderman N. McGuinness.[6] However, even this simpler redesign of the town hall found criticism with the Sydney Morning Herald demanding to know how the Council could justify spending £5000 on their "luxurious chamber" when they wouldn’t pay for the immunisation of children against diphtheria.

The new town hall was the home of Erskineville Council until its abolition in 1948 and was a community centre until 1968 when the then "Municipality of Northcott" was established in the area which became the Municipality of South Sydney and then the City of South Sydney. The town hall was its seat until its abolition in 1983 and became the seat of the reestablished South Sydney Council in 1989. It served this role until late in 2003 when the South Sydney City Council resolved to move the Council Chambers to the South Sydney Civic Centre at Lawson Square in Redfern.

The new Town Hall on its completion in August 1938.


With the merging of the City of South Sydney with the City of Sydney in 2004 however, the town hall became primarily a community centre for the local area. In 2005 Lord Mayor of Sydney Clover Moore commissioned refurbishment and restoration works for the town hall which included gas-powered air-conditioning and solar energy and improved disability access for the building. On completion of this restoration in March 2013, Lord Mayor Moore declared: "Apart from showing you the work we’ve done here, it's also an opportunity to show you how this rejuvenated Town Hall – still going strong in its 75th year – can work for your community. [...] This local landmark can now serve your community into the future."[7] The Town Hall is now also on the City of Sydney heritage register "as a fine example of the growth of small municipal councils in NSW during the 1870s to 1940s and one of three town halls from the same period ─ the others are at Petersham and Rockdale ─ that feature art deco influences, a central clock tower and a classical entry portico."[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "XIV.—MACDONALDTOWN". The Sydney Morning Herald (15, 523). 26 December 1887. p. 7. Retrieved 25 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  2. ^ "MACDONALDTOWN". The Sydney Morning Herald (15, 908). 18 March 1889. p. 8. Retrieved 25 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  3. ^ "MUNICIPAL NOTES". The Sydney Morning Herald (16, 085). 14 October 1889. p. 4. Retrieved 25 September 2016 – via National Library of Australia.
  4. ^ a b c "Erskineville's chocolate town hall reopens for 75th year" (Press release). City of Sydney. 18 March 2013. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  5. ^ "BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION. NEW TOWN HALL – FOR ERSKINEVILLE". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 1 December 1936. p. 6. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  6. ^ "MINISTER DEFENDS DEMOCRACY". The Sydney Morning Herald. National Library of Australia. 28 November 1938. p. 12. Retrieved 14 September 2015.
  7. ^ "Media & Speeches – Erskineville Town Hall re-opening and Ashmore Estate DCP". Clover Moore – Lord Mayor of Sydney since 2004. Clover Moore. Retrieved 14 September 2015.

External links[edit]