Albany Town Hall, 217 York Street, corner Grey Street West,

AYS 3102
 
Albany Town Hall is a superb example of Victorian Free Classical architecture, designed by Adelaide firm Henderson, Marriot and Co. On December 9, 1886, Albany Mayoress Mrs W G Knight laid the building’s foundation stone on a block of State Government land on the corners of York and Grey Street West. Approximately 18 months later on June 1, 1888, the building was officially opened by her husband, Mayor William Grills Knight, having been constructed by contractors Harrison and Hamilton.
 
Externally, Albany Town Hall is built from granite masonry with stucco decoration and internally from plastered brickwork. It is a two-storey building with a gallery and additional levels in the central clock tower. Its Free Classical elements include corner pilasters and quoins, round and elliptical details to window openings, pediments and decorative urns at the ends of the truncated pediment. This sits behind a clock tower which continues the architectural detail and is capped by a domed roof and flagpole.
 
The rear elevation of the building has been obscured by a 1980s concrete block extension. The building originally featured a central entrance foyer, flanked by two offices. Access to the upper floor was by one of two symmetrical jarrah and wrought iron staircases which lead to the first floor foyer. This foyer entered the main hall, which was lit by large north and south facing windows. Internally the building has been subject to radical change including the reduction in size of some rooms and the addition of permanent tired seating extending to the level of the 1913 gallery, which has caused the original windows to be blocked off.

Since its construction the town hall has been used for entertainment, public meetings and indoor sporting activities. In the period 1981-1986 the building was converted into a theatre reflecting the earlier use in 1911 of the building as a picture theatre.
 
TownHallSome of the most important events in the building’s history were a series of public meetings held at the end of 1899 and the beginning of the 20th Century. On December 15, 1899, a meeting was held to discuss the question of separating Albany from the colony of Western Australia and joining in a federation with the other Australian colonies.
This came about because Albany residents had long nursed grievances against Sir John Forrest’s State Government, primarily because it pursued the development of Fremantle as opposed to Albany as the colony's main port.

Seeing no possibility of reversing this policy, the people of Albany formed a local Federal League in June 1899 in the hope the Australian Government would support their view that the town should be reinstated as the main port for Western Australia.

The rise of the Separation for Federation movement in Kalgoorlie and Coolgardie later in the year aroused interest in Albany.  A meeting of the Albany Federal League Executive on December 4, 1899 expressed a strong feeling in favour of joining with the people of the Goldfields in an appeal for separation. It was against this background that a public meeting was held at the town hall 11 days later. Attended by 200 people, the meeting voted unanimously to seek separation from Western Australia.

At a meeting of the Albany Federal League on December 21, it was decided to form an Albany Branch of the Separation League. A further public meeting held at the town hall on January 3, 1900 endorsed the formation of the Albany Separation League and decided it should “act in conjunction with the Goldfields League in petitioning the Imperial Government from the Swan River Settlement“.

This meeting was attended by A P Matheson, MLC, one of the leading members of the Western Australian Federal League. A petition separate to that taken up in the Goldfields was collected in Albany and when presented to the colony's administrator in March, had 1,745 signatures. Albany's population at the time was only about 3,400 including children.

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