Glen Innes History: Town Hall's troubled beginnings

Historic snapshot: Photos of the Glen Innes Town Hall from The Queenslander publication in 1905.
Historic snapshot: Photos of the Glen Innes Town Hall from The Queenslander publication in 1905.

Bill Cameron highlighted the 1880s as probably the most formative years in the history of Glen Innes.

It was during this time that three bank buildings were constructed as well as the corner portion of Utz & Co (now Cole’s corner).

The railway line that originated from Newcastle was opened at Glen Innes in 1884. At this time there was no railway between Sydney and Newcastle, so that travellers north from Sydney had first to catch a boat to Newcastle.

Amos Brothers, who owned Mt Mitchell Station in this district, had constructed the northern railway line from Tamworth to Uralla and when this contract ended they won the contract to build the railway line from Sydney to Newcastle.

It was originally intended that the Town Hall be erected for an assembly hall, only and the stage was built for that purpose...

The Land of the Beardies

This line from Sydney to Newcastle traversed some very rugged country and the bridge over the Hawkesbury River took some considerable time to construct with the equipment available at the time.

Proudfoot, a New Zealander, supervised the teams forming up the line from Uralla to Glen Innes.

In 1887, a local builder, Henry Kendrick, won the contract to build the Town Hall – the present “stately pile”.

Frederick Harrison, architect from Deniliquin submitted the winning design from about 15 entries. Five tenders had been received ranging in price from ₤3757 to Kendrick’s tender of ₤2975. Council had needed permission from the governor to raise a loan to afford it.

In 1887, Sir Henry Parkes laid the foundation stone and George F. Nott  (who later moved to Armidale) was responsible for the brickwork. From time to time, the plans were altered and Kendrick came in for much criticism.

Kendrick went broke over the contract owing to the alterations. He was finally paid ₤2761.

Sommerlad records in 1922, in The Land of the Beardies: “…It was originally intended that the Town Hall be erected for an assembly hall, only and the stage was built for that purpose, but later on, in consequence of the ‘music halls’ at Tattersall’s Hotel and near the Commercial Hotel being closed, it became necessary for the council to erect a proscenium and procure scenery so that the hall might be used for general theatrical purposes…”