Monday, 26 September 2022

Town Hall History


  • By 1928 Swan Hill Shire population had risen to 17,213, with 4,500 residents in the town of Swan Hill. So Swan Hill Shire Council decided to build a new Town Hall that could seat 1,000 people and provide a supper room to seat 250.


  • February 4
    Original Shire Hall, McCallum Street, Swan Hill built in 1897 and demolished in 1934 to make way for the present Town Hall.
    Council resolved to invite tenders for hire of the new Town Hall, for the purpose of screening pictures.
  • February 9
    Preferred architect Mr A C Leigh attended Swan Hill Council Meeting to discuss conditions and requirements for the proposed new Town Hall.
  • April 3
    Councillors of East Riding resolved to accept the tender of Mr Baker & Counsel, regarding their offer to secure a lease of the new Hall for the purpose of screening pictures.
  • May 11
    Council resolved that the Architect for the new Hall be instructed to provide a ladies’ toilet room and lavatory on the ground floor of the new building
  • June 14
    Council considered a letter from C G Herridge, Swan Hill, who offered to supply 100 loads (22 c.ft) of sand for 6/- per load delivered; and up to 400 loads if Council should require it.
  • July 13
    Council directed that, in keeping with its wish, local bricks be used for all work with exception of facings on the new Hall, the Architect and two Councillors would inspect bricks at the local kiln.
  • September 8
    It was determined that no more than 50,000 bricks could be imported from outside sources for the Town Hall facing.


  • December 11
    Architect Leith’s estimated cost of the new Hall was presented to Council, advising total cost of £ 22,000 ($44,000).


  • July 19
    Architect Leith advised council that 150 cu.yds of coarse sand for concrete, and 400 cu.yds of finer sand for brickwork in plastering, would be required for the Hall. Council resolved to invite tenders closing July 26, 1934, for supply of sand.
  • August 14
    Following receipt of 13 tenders to erect the new Hall, Council resolved to accept the tender by G S Gay, comprising £17,060 plus £205 for Jarrah floor. Swan Hill District Hospital sought Council’s permission to hold the first entertainment in the new Hall, for the purpose of holding a Grand Ball.
  • August
    There was a large gathering of citizens present to witness the sale by auction, by Messrs O’Connor, Egan & Co of the Shire Hall and buildings, which were knocked down to Mr A. A. Lord, Chemist of Swan Hill for £115 .
  • September 1934
    Following adoption of amendments to the original design plan, Mr Gay’s tender of £21,265 ($42,503) was accepted and work began. Swan Hill bricks were used almost exclusively.
  • October 9
    Council Minutes report Architect Leith presented a report and costing to Council regarding erection of public conveniences on the plantation opposite the new Shire Hall (Town Hall).
  • November 21
    Foundation stone for the new Hall was laid by Cr E G Gray. A feature of the robust design of the new hall was its steel framework that would remain standing even if all brickwork was to be removed. The old powerhouse in Beveridge Street was used as temporary shire offices whilst the Town Hall was being built.


  • Features of the new Town Hall
    • Municipal Chambers on western side of the building, along with offices for Engineering Dept., Water Trust, and Sewerage Authority. The council chambers are carried out in brown, black, green and paneling. Inlaid on the president’s chair is the seal and crest of the Shire Council and municipality. The councillors chairs are placed in order, forming a semi circle. Either side of the President’s chair are those for the secretary and engineer.
    • Seating for 760 downstairs, a further 450 upstairs, plus a supper room to seat 250.
    • The whole of the interest in the hall is concentrated to the stage and symbolical grilles, the motif of which is expressed in a series of cast swans. The stage drapes are curtaining of orange and gold, which is operated electronically.
    • The hall design includes foyer, dress circle, and a stage capable of theatrical performance and film screenings. while on each side of the stage large grill screens permit mechanical ventilation.
    • Ballroom floor features special jarrah timber.
  • April 9
    Council resolved to let the new Town Hall to Mr F P O’Halloran, of Balranald, for the purpose of screening pictures on 3 nights per week, including the Sweets Stall; for a lease period of 5 years.
  • May 14
    Council resolved that Swan Hill Hospital have first use of the new Hall, apart from pictures; and that the formal opening be held as soon as possible after completion of the building.
  • September 10
    Special Committee of the Council decided to purchase a Steinway Horizontal Grand Piano at cost of £285 ($590), plus a Beale Upright piano at cost of £25 ($50).
  • September 16
    Swan Hill Guardian reported Council’s advice that no formal invitations had been issued regarding Lord Huntingfield’s official opening of the Town Hall, however all members of the public were welcome to enter and inspect the Hall immediately following the official ceremony.
  • September 17
    Official Opening of Town Hall

    A Gala Hospital Ball was held in the new Town Hall. It was attended by over 1,000 people who were presented with 20 debutants and their partners. Debutantes were presented to the Vice Regal visitors Lord & Lady Huntingfield, who also officially opened the Town Hall.

  • September 18
    “Regent Theatre Gala Opening” provided a special picture show at Swan Hill. Program included “Circus Clown “starring Joe E Brown, and “Mrs Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch” starring W C Fields and Pauline Lord, plus Movietone News and a Mickey Mouse cartoon.
  • September 19
    Swan Hill Guardian reported that immediately prior to the Opening Ceremony for the new Town Hall, a “guard of honor” formed on each side of the entrance foyer; it comprised Girl Guides, Brownies, Cubs, and Boy Scouts. Assembled in McCallum Street were Highland Pipers, Municipal Band, and Returned Servicemen. More than 2,000 people attended.


  • June 1936
    As a highlight of Swan Hill’s 100th anniversary celebration, a special Centenary Ball was held at the Town Hall, with the Capitol Dance Band in attendance. Memorial plaque was unveiled in the Town Hall, to the memory of Dr Cotter.


  • As part of Catholic Charity Queen Competition and Carnival, the official presentation of Queens and Crowning of Charity Queen was held at the Town Hall.


  • High School hosted a Gala Night at the Town Hall, featuring 24 senior girls in Elizabethan dress; their partners comprised 8 dressed in kilts, 8 dressed as sailors, and 8 as Red Coats. Additional dancing was performed by 64 junior students.


  • July 14
    First election held by Swan Hill Borough Council, although it’s severence was not complete until 1941 from Swan Hill Shire Council. Thereafter, the Town Hall became the primary Polling Place for residents of Swan Hill, both for local Council elections and for State and Federal elections. In more recent decades additional venues became available at Harrison Hall (High School), Longhurst Hall (Technical School), and several Primary Schools.


  • Image from Swan Hill Postcard Pre 1960. Town Hall with original two tone brick colour scheme

    Severance meeting held in the Lodge Rooms at Town Hall, to confirm separation of Swan Hill Borough Council from Swan Hill Shire Council.

  • High School held its annual Speech Night at the Town Hall during 1940-1950.
  • April
    Final resolution was reached regarding ownership of the recently-completed Town Hall that had been funded by the Shire but was now part of Swan Hill Borough. It was agreed the Borough must pay £2,734 ($5468) to the Shire, along with providing rent-free office space to the Shire Engineer’s Department.


  • August 16
    High School’s Victory Ball held at the Town Hall, to celebrate Victory in the Pacific and ending of war with Japan on August 15, 1945.


  • May 28
    Grand Coronation Ceremony held at the Town Hall, with proceeds to Swan Hill Hospital New Building Fund; finalists were Queens of Agriculture, Charity, Radio, Dried Fruits, Services, Commerce, and Sport.


  • Public Meeting held in the Town Hall, to elect a Committee to establish an Historical Society at Swan Hill – Mr Alan Garden was elected Chairman, and Mr Patrick Real was elected Secretary.
  • April
    Swan Hill National Theatre Group presented the play “Within These Walls” to a packed house.


  • Debutant Balls organised by the High School Mothers’ Club were held annually, in the Town Hall during 1950-1960.
  • Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “As You Like It” at the Town Hall; This was attended by 120 senior students from the High School, as well as the general public.


  • April 17
    Shakespearian Festival Week featured the Play Romeo & Juliet at the Town Hall; also a Fancy Dress Ball at the Town Hall.


  • April 15
    Shakespeare Festival Week featured the play “The Merchant of Venice”, presented by Swan Hill Theatre Group in the Town Hall.


  • 1953
    Public Meeting held in the Town Hall, resulting in formation of a Steering Committee of Trustees for the Swan Hill Native Centre.


  • High School Speech Night featured students presentation of Gilbert & Sullivan musical “Trial by Jury”.
  • Public Meeting held in the Town Hall, regarding a proposal to establish a Folk Museum at Swan Hill.
  • April
    Shakespearian Festival featured “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and was opened at the Town Hall by Victorian Governor Sir Dallas Brooks.
  • August
    High School’s annual Drama Festival was presented in the Town Hall, which was the only local venue able to accommodate all students at one time; until the School’s Harrison Hall was built and available in 1962.


  • March 5
    O’Halloran Theatres sought to renew its lease on the Town Hall, beyond the period of 18 months remaining on its existing agreement with Council.
  • April
    Shakespearian Festival featured the play “Henry VIII” in the Town Hall.


  • Picture theatre in the Town Hall was re-named “Civic” Theatre, because film operator Mr Frank O’Halloran chose to transfer the name “Regent” to his new and larger theatre (which opened on May 20, 1958) at the Orana ballroom/theatre complex at Swan Hill. Mr O’Halloran continued to offer film screenings at the “Civic” and “Regent” , although with different titles being screened at the respective cinemas.
  • Swan Hill High School Choir held a special Night Concert at the Town Hall.
  • An Arts Ball was held in the Town Hall as part of Shakespearean Festival week, plus Swan Hill National Theatre Group presented the play “Much Ado About Nothing” which was opened by Jean Sumner from the Elizabethan Trust.


  • Guardian newspaper reports Swan Hill will retain ABC Concerts, as arranged at most recent performance by Victorian Symphony Orchestra at Swan Hill Town Hall.


  • Film screenings were shown at the Civic Theatre (Swan Hill Town Hall) from 1958-1960

    Shakespearean Festival featured the play “Twelfth Night”, in the Town Hall

  • September
    Guardian newspaper reported painting of interior of Town Hall and supply of new curtains for the stage, foyer, & council chambers, as first stage of a program of improvements.
  • September
    Twelve finalists in Maid of the Murray were given a civic reception in entrance foyer of Town Hall. Maid of the Murray Charity Competition was designed to assist country hospital.
  • October 21
    One of the last films presented by F P O’Halloran at his Civic Theatre in the Town Hall was “Black Tuesday” starring Edward G Robinson, plus “Flight to Mars”.
  • December
    Civic Theatre (operated by lessee Frank O’Halloran), ceased operation at the Town Hall in December 1960, although movies were occasionally screened there after 1960.


  • March 13
    Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “Gifts to Gloriana”.
  • April 11
    Swan Hill Presbyterian Church hosted a special 90th Anniversary Ball at the Town Hall; it featured Highland Dancers, Choral items, Ballroom Dancing, and Graeme Weir’s Orchestra.


  • Swan Hill Theatre Group presented their annual play production in the Town Hall.


  • Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “Hamlet Prince of Denmark” in the Town Hall.


  • A fireproof room was installed to Engineer’s of-fice at the Town Hall.


  • March 12
    Proclamation Day for the City of Swan Hill – owing to a public holiday being declared for district schools whose students would all be in attendance, the Show Grounds was chosen as official venue for the Proclamation, however Town Hall featured as backdrop to publicity photographs of Swan Hill’s first City Mayor Cr Alan Wood.
  • March 13
    Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “Twelfth Night”, in the Town Hall.


  • Swan Hill National Theatre Group presented the play “The Merchant of Venice”, in the Town Hall.


  • Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “King Lear” in the Town Hall.


  • Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “The Merry Wives of Windsor”.


  • As part of Pioneer Week and Shakespeare Festi-val, Swan Hill Theatre Group presented the play “Richard III”, at the Town Hall.


  • April
    Swan Hill Theatre Group organised a Fancy Dress Ball in the Town Hall.


  • October
    Swan Hill City Council considered re-establishing Swan Hill Regional Library to the ground floor of the Town Hall, but after much deliberation this plan was not proceeded with.


  • June 21
    St Mary’s Parents & Friends Ball was held at the Town Hall, with presentation of 13 debutants and music provided by “Nu-Tones”.
  • June 28
    St Mary’s Parents & Friends Ball was conducted to present its second group of 14 debutants and their partners; music again provided by “Nu-Tones”.


  • Swan Hill City Council obtained a report on major restoration work on the Town Hall, including fire protection, stage machinery & lighting, with an estimated total cost of $1.7million. A series of four stages was adopted by City Council, for major restoration of the Town Hall


  • Major upgrade costing $1.3million carried out on McCallum Street footpaths, kerbing, and roadway; including redesign and provision of safe access for passenger vehicles in front of main entrance to Town Hall.


  • September 11
    Demolition began on the stage, ceiling, dressing rooms and kitchen of the Town Hall.
  • November 27
    Erection commenced on a new Fly Tower, and new kitchen area for the Town Hall.


  • Andrew Ward of Box Office Promotions purchased the projectors, sound system and other film equipment installed in the Projection Room.
  • City Council called tenders for supply of commercial kitchen equipment, fire & domestic water services, for the Town Hall Supper Room. Town Hall was closed from early 1991 until November 1992.
  • February 2
    New roof and flashing was completed, and air-conditioning installed to the Town Hall.
  • May
    First booking accepted for the refurbished Town Hall – a musical that traced the life of rock-n-roll star Buddy Holley.
  • May 4
    Plumbing and electrical work completed.
  • May 20
    Guardian newspaper reports popular Cabaret Balls held at Town Hall venue, but Council & community are concerned about organisations needing to adhere to Hall rules for underage drinking and acceptable crowd behaviour.
  • August 23
    Guardian newspaper reports Council’s decision that Hall hirers will be held responsible for cost to repair any damage to the Town Hall.
  • October 25
    City Council accepted tenders for re-upholstery of theatre seats at the Town Hall
  • November 20
    Guardian newspaper reports an offer by SkillShare to undertake overall management of the Town Hall, in return for rent-free use that would rely on hiring the lower hall for entertainment while SkillShare would use upstairs areas for training. Local businesses lodged their objection to this proposal.


  • April 8
    Guardian newspaper reports no interest shown by the general community, for the management of Swan Hill Town Hall, however SkillShare offer has been refused by Council.
  • July 27
    Regarding Hall hire for screening films, Council agreed to reduce Hall hire charge from $200 per night to $120. This followed advice from film operator that recent increase of charge from former $90 to $200 per night had made his screenings not viable.
  • September 25
    Guardian newspaper reports local catering busi-nessman Joe Maggio will contract to manage Swan Hill Town Hall from October 1, although he would continue to operate his nearby catering venue at Rio Vista.
  • October 13
    City Council accepted a contract to supply 450 side chairs plus 40 round tables for the ballroom area of Town Hall.
  • November 10
    City Council issued Planning Permit 92/68 to enable Intermittent Retail Trading from Town Hall.
  • November 28
    300 people attended the Town Hall Gala Opening on November 28, where an impressive Dinner Dance featured two Melbourne bands.


  • Progressive plans and numerous meetings at which City Council considered costs to renovate facilities within the Town Hall, and the need for a new roof.
  • December 25
    Swan Hill Guardian published Council tenders for re-roofing of Town Hall, involving replacement of tile roof with Colourbond steel sheeting; also to supply loose-lay sections of carpet plus polishing of jarrah floor in the ballroom area.


  • May 13
    Swan Hill Guardian reports that a Bendigo firm C B & J P Watson has won tender to paint exterior of Town Hall. No local tenders were received.
  • June 18
    Swan Hill Guardian published tenders called by Council to supply and fit elaborate stage machin-ery, drapes & sound & lighting equipment at the Town Hall.
  • August 12
    Swan Hill Guardian reports Council will seek an entrepreneur to promote its refurbished Town Hall as an entertainment centre.
  • December 6
    Special final meeting of Swan Hill City Council was held in the Town Hall.


  • January 19
    New Municipality Swan Hill Rural City Council held its Amalgamation Day at the Town Hall.
  • February
    First official meeting of the new Amalgamated Council (Swan Hill Rural City Council), held at the Town Hall.


  • Mr John Fowler who was Arts Director with Swan Hill Rural City Council in 1996 reports that the last film screening in the Town Hall was in August 1996, at the time when the Council was planning a major upgrade to the Town Hall. John also reports that the last proprietor of the projection room was Bill McGinty (1996) from Robinvale. McGinty screened films at Robinvale cinema.
  • August
    Swan Hill College Newsletter announced that SHRCC and Swan Hill College had entered into partnership to conduct a feasibility study for the development of the Performing Arts in Swan Hill, with one option being to develop the Town Hall into a Concert and Performing Arts Hall. A second option would be to refurbish the west side of the Hall and use the Town Hall proper as a conference Centre and Concert Hall which could still be used for cabarets, dances, deb balls, and community groups.


  • September 9
    Planning for a Feasibility Study to consider estab-lishment of a Performing Arts Facility at Swan Hill was communicated to Swan Hill Rural City Council by W S C Consultants Pty Ltd of Melbourne.


  • March 18Guardian newspaper reported that Swan Hill’s status as a member of the Victorian Association of Performing Arts Centres recently attracted 23 of its managers to the Town Hall to discuss future shows. Swan Hill Arts Director John Fowler is VAPAC’s facilities group director, and is co-ordinator of an upgrade program to meet benchmarks recommended by the State Government.
  • Performers this year included —The Four Kins-men, 20 Feb, and John Williamson, 14 Oct.


  • June 8
    Guardian newspaper reported that part of a $2m grant from Arts Victoria would enable increased size of the stage and wings in the Town Hall, also upgrade to lighting, greenrooms for performers, reception area, and the hall’s west wing. An architect would be employed immediately, with construction to begin by the end of 2001.
  • June 11
    Guardian newspaper reported that a grant of $2m from Arts Victoria would boost theatre fa-cilities at both the Town Hall and Swan Hill Secondary College. Total cost would be $3.3m, $700,000 of this from SHRCC and $300,000 from Swan Hill College.


  • October 11
    A Meeting of Swan Hill creditors was scheduled because approximately ten local businesses and sub-contractors had been financially disadvantaged by the demise and liquidation of Town Hall contractor Royal Como.


  • Relying on joint funding by Swan Hill Rural City Council & Arts Victoria, plans and designs were put forward in 2003 for a major Town Hall Rede-velopment Project.
  • May 23
    Guardian reports that additional funding an-nounced by the Minister for Arts would enable completion of an upgrade that had suffered significant setback when the original builder failed.
  • October 14
    The Three Tenors performed at the Town Hall.
  • November 21 & 22
    Refurbished Town Hall open for guided tours to the public on two consecutive days.


  • February 28
    An official opening of Swan Hill’s refurbished and upgraded Town Hall was held. The Gala Performance featured Marina Prior & Donald Cant with the Australian Pops Orchestra.


  • The Swan Hill Town Hall PACC has hosted some well known and popular events and entertainers including; 2004– Wine Show Presentation Dinner, 2005—Comedy Festival Roadshow (popular over many years), 2006– Lee Kernaghan, Faereality—Raylene Richard-son’s annual dance concert, 2007– Jimmy Barnes, David Strassman (sold out), 2008– Rogue Traders, Hi 5, 2009– David Strassman, Lee Kernaghan, Dare to Dream Raylene Richardson’s annual dance concert.


  • October
    The Irrigation Conference ran for a week with over 1,000 people attending and the entire facility being utilised.
  • October
    The Irrigation Conference ran for a week with over 1,000 people attending and the entire facility being utilised.
  • December
    Town Hall committee decided a logo should be designed for promotion of the hall. The logo was designed by Chris Muller, Elliotprint.

2010 – Today

  • Today the Swan Hill Town Hall is an iconic landmark in the hub of a modern city. It is a multi-purpose facility and is used for various performances, events, meetings and confer-ences. The centre is home to the Swan Hill Rural City Council’s Municipal chambers (upstairs) for council briefing sessions weekly and a council meeting once a month.


Pat Salau from the Swan Hill Genealogical and Historical Society. Your efforts into researching the history of the Swan Hill Town Hall PACC culminating with the information for inclusion in this document are greatly appreciated.

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