Waterloo Town Hall Including Interior and Former Air Raid Shelter | NSW Environment & Heritage

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Waterloo Town Hall Including Interior and Former Air Raid Shelter

Item details

Name of item: Waterloo Town Hall Including Interior and Former Air Raid Shelter
Other name/s: Waterloo Library
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Community Facilities
Category: Hall Town Hall
Primary address: 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo, NSW 2017
Local govt. area: Sydney
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
770 Elizabeth StreetWaterlooSydney  Primary Address

Statement of significance:

Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo has local historic
significance as evidence of the former Municipality of Waterloo and as
an important local landmark of over 125 years standing. The Town Hall
was an integral part of and catalyst for the historical development of the
surrounding area. Built in 1881, at the beginning of a period of
substantial residential and industrial development, the Town Hall was
conceived, designed and constructed to be the centre of municipal
administration. Equally important was its role as a symbol of what
Waterloo had achieved and its future promise. Amalgamated into the
City of Sydney (and later Northcott Municipal Council and South Sydney
Council) in 1948, Waterloo Municipality no longer exists as a separate
entity. The Town Hall is the most readily identifiable symbol of what was
once an area with a fiercely independent local identity.

Waterloo Town Hall has significance for its ability to reflect the events
that shaped the development of the local area. The Town Hall was built
in 1881 in response to increasing development. As the area continued
to expanded during the first part of the twentieth century, a large social
hall was constructed in 1914-1915. This hall is largely intact and has
significance for its long association with community events and
celebrations. The site continues to have significance for the modern day
community; the Social Hall has been the site of a public library since
1972.

Waterloo Town Hall has historic and aesthetic significance as part of a
pattern of town hall construction throughout the inner city Sydney
municipalities in the 1880s and early 1890s. Collectively, the surviving
nineteenth century town halls scattered throughout the inner city suburbs
reflect the rise and development of local government as a result of the
Municipalities Acts of 1858 and 1867. Waterloo Town Hall is a largely
intact example of a Victorian Italianate Style with Second Empire Style
influences. Victorian architectural styles were influenced by European
and British styles. The Italianate and Second Empire Styles were
popular for municipal town halls for their ability to imbued a sense of
grandeur, authority and respectability. These buildings testify to the
prosperity and confidence of the 1880s and demonstrate the aspirations
of local government at this time. With a high percentage of original
fabric, the Waterloo Town Hall demonstrates the aesthetics and
construction techniques of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries. The hierarchy of rooms remains clear in the internal layout
and finishes.

Waterloo Town Hall has historic significance for its association with the
architects Edward Hughes, who designed the original 1881 building, and
John Smedley and Ambrose Thornley, who oversaw its construction.

Waterloo Town Hall has aesthetic significance for its considerable
streetscape presence. The building occupies a prominent site within the
immediate area and is visible for some distance as approached from
either direction along Elizabeth Street. Its massing, scale and detailing
set it apart from the more modest character of the adjoining buildings.

The former World War II period Air Raid Shelter to the rear of the Town
Hall has historic significance as a rare example of a pillbox style air raid
shelter within the City of Sydney area. Its significance outside of
documentary records, however, has been diminished by extensive later
alterations.
Date significance updated: 13 Jul 06
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.

Description

Designer/Maker: Edward Hughes, construction supervised by Ambrose Thornton Jnr and John Smedley
Builder/Maker: 1880- George Bretnall and Arthur Poulton
Physical description: Two storey Victorian Italianate style building with palladian style sets of windows with central windows featuring semi-circular heads, drip moulds above windows featuring keystones. The building is not symmetrical, with an off-set projecting mansard-roofed tower with elaborate decorative parapet to the front. The hipped slate roof features decorative gablet vents.
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Good. The slate roof was extensively damaged in the April 1999 Sydney hailstorm, and subsequently repaired.
Date condition updated:21 May 07
Further information: Heritage Inventory sheets are often not comprehensive, and should be regarded as a general guide only. Inventory sheets are based on information available, and often do not include the social history of sites and buildings. Inventory sheets are constantly updated by the City as further information becomes available. An inventory sheet with little information may simply indicate that there has been no building work done to the item recently: it does not mean that items are not significant. Further research is always recommended as part of preparation of development proposals for heritage items, and is necessary in preparation of Heritage Impact Assessments and Conservation Management Plans, so that the significance of heritage items can be fully assessed prior to submitting development applications.

History

Historical notes: The "Eora people" was the name given to the coastal Aborigines around Sydney. Central Sydney is therefore often referred to as "Eora Country". Within the City of Sydney local government area, the traditional owners are the Cadigal and Wangal bands of the Eora.

With European occupation of the Sydney region from 1788 , the Cadigal and Wangal people were largely decimated but there are descendants still living in Sydney today.

The first European owner of the site was John Thomas Campbell, who received a 185
acre grant, known as the Mount Lachlan Estate, on 30 June, 1825 under the
hand of Governor Sir Thomas Brisbane. By the 1840s this grant, and the
adjoining 1,400 acre Waterloo Farm, had become the property of the
prominent emancipist businessman Daniel Cooper. Combined, the two grants
came to be known as the Waterloo or Cooper Estate. The Cooper family
would retain ownership of a large part of this Estate, including the subject site,
until the early 1900s.

Following the passage of the Municipalities Act of 1858, Waterloo was
incorporated as part of the Municipality of Redfern (1859); the Borough of
Waterloo was incorporated at a separate municipality in 1860. Over the
following twenty years, Council met in a variety of rented premises. During
this period, Waterloo began to expand and, by 1880, had reached a position
where Council were able to obtain a 99 year lease for the subject site from the
Cooper family for the purpose of constructing a Town Hall. The freehold to the
site was eventually obtained by Council in 1909.

The design competition for the Waterloo Town Hall held in 1880 was won by
Sydney architect Edward Hughes with his plan for a two storey building in the
Victorian Italianate Style, with Second Empire Style influences. The
construction of the Waterloo Town Hall by contractors George Bretnall and
Arthur Poulton was overseen by architects John Smedley and Ambrose
Thornley Junior. The Town Hall was one of a number of town halls built within
the inner city municipalities at this time.

The Victorian Italianate Style, and other classical revival styles, were popular for town hall design and were considered to impart a sense of respectability and authority. Municipal
business was conducted from the Town Hall from the second half of 1882.
Waterloo continued to expand and develop during the late nineteenth and
early twentieth centuries. In 1914-1915, a Social Hall and Caretaker’s
Quarters were added to the Town Hall. These works were the last major
period of construction to occur on the site, with the exception of an above
ground air raid shelter constructed to the rear of the Town Hall during World
War II. In the early post war period, Waterloo Municipality became part of the
City of Sydney (1948). Over subsequent years, it variously formed part of
Northcott Municipal Council and South Sydney Council. Minor alterations
were carried out to the Town Hall during these years, most notably the
conversion of the Air Raid Shelter into office space. The Waterloo Town Hall
has housed a public library since 1972. A major refit was undertaken by
prominent Sydney architectural firm Stephenson and Turner in 1995.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
7. Governing-Governing Government and Administration-Activities associated with the governance of local areas, regions, the State and the nation, and the administration of public programs - includes both principled and corrupt activities. (none)-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Leisure-Activities associated with recreation and relaxation (none)-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo has local historical significance as evidence of the former Municipality of Waterloo and as a local
landmark of over 125 years standing.

Built in 1881, at the beginning of a period of substantial residential and
industrial development, the Town Hall was conceived, designed and
constructed to be the centre of municipal administration. Equally important
was its role as a symbol of what Waterloo had achieved and would achieve in
the future. The Town Hall was an expression of local identity: Waterloo had a
strong sense of its identity at this time, having earlier asserted its
independence from Redfern.

Waterloo Town Hall has significance for its ability to reflect the events that
shaped the development of the local area from the late nineteenth century
onwards. Increased residential and industrial development had created a
need for a purpose built town hall by 1881. Similarly, as the area expanded
during the first part of the twentieth century, a large social hall was added.
Minor alterations and additions continued to be carried out after this date as
the needs of the local community changed. The two world wars left a distinct
mark on Waterloo in terms of its contribution in men, women and industry.
This contribution is reflected in the placement of World War I honour rolls in
the building, the World War II Air Raid Shelter to the rear of the town hall and
the erection of the World War II memorial on the opposite site of Elizabeth
Street, close by the Town Hall.

Waterloo Town Hall has historic significance as part of a pattern of town hall
construction throughout the inner city Sydney municipalities during the 1880s
and early 1890s. While many of the inner city suburban municipalities had
been incorporated during the 1860-1870, most were not in a position to
construct substantial purpose-built Council chambers until the 1880s.
Collectively, the surviving nineteenth century town halls within the inner city
suburbs reflect the rise and development of local government as a result of the
Municipal Acts of 1858 and 1867. Through fabric and documentary evidence
the Waterloo Town Hall demonstrates the self image and aspirations of local
government in the 1880s. Most of the smaller municipalities of the late
nineteenth century have been amalgamated into larger local government
areas. In many instances, as at Waterloo, the former town hall is the most
important surviving physical evidence of their existence.

Waterloo Town Hall has local historic significance for the important events that
have been held within the building and the community associations that these
events embody. Like most Town Halls, the building was built, and later
expanded, to cater for community activities such as dances, meetings,
lectures and performances. A wide variety of events have been held in the
Town Hall since 1881. The Town Hall continues to be used for community
purposes, most notably, a public library.

Waterloo Town Hall has significance as a place of collective community
memory and commemoration. There are, for examples, Rolls of Honour for
World War I service in the front hall. More recently, a plaque was placed in
the hall to commemorate the naming of the suburb of Waterloo after the Battle
of Waterloo (1815).
SHR Criteria b)
[Associative significance]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo has significance for its
association with the architect Edward Hughes, who prepared the original
design for the building. The level of significance is minor; little is known of
Hughes and no other buildings by this architect have been identified.

Waterloo Town Hall has significance for its association with the architects
John Smedley and Ambrose Thornley (Junior). Smedley and Thornley are
identified as the architects of the Town Hall by the contemporary press. While
not the source of the original design of the Town Hall, they nevertheless had a
close association with the building, overseeing its construction. Individually,
Smedley and Thornley designed a number of notable buildings in Sydney.
Smedley’s best known work is the Trades Hall, Sydney; Thornley’s is the
Glebe Town Hall.

Waterloo Town Hall has significance for its association with past members of
the Waterloo Municipal Council. Mayors, in particularly, are commemorated
by plaques within the building.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo has significance as a
largely intact example of a Victorian Italianate Style building with Second
Empire influences. Classically influenced Victorian architectural styles
dominated the design of town halls in Sydney during the 1880s and 1890s.
These styles were considered to lend a suitable air of respectability and
gravity to community buildings. The principal elevations of the 1881 Town Hall
are substantially intact. The only substantial loss to have occurred is the
removal of the cast iron ornamented verandah that once graced the Elizabeth
Street elevation. The loss of this verandah, while an important element of this
particular building, has had only a minor impact on the understanding that the
building provides of the Italianate Style. The Town Hall retains a high
percentage of original fabric. As a result, it demonstrates common
construction techniques and finishes of the late nineteenth and early twentieth
centuries.

The Town Hall has aesthetic significance for a number of notable interiors,
including spaces and material finishes. Of particular note are the entrance hall,
original Council Chamber, original Grand Hall and Social Hall.

Waterloo Town Hall has aesthetic significance for its considerable streetscape
presence. The building occupies a prominent site within the immediate area
and is visible for some distance as approached from either direction along
Elizabeth Street. Its massing, scale and detailing set it apart from the more
modest adjoining buildings.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo has significance for the
local community for its past use as a place for gatherings and special events.
The building has significance for the existing local community for its use as a
public library.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo demonstrates the rise and
growth of Waterloo Municipality in the late nineteenth and early twentieth
century. It is representative of the type, style and standard of building
constructed as municipal chambers throughout the inner city municipalities at
this time. External and internal features and finishes are typical of the two
main periods (1881 and 1914-15) during which the building was constructed.

Waterloo Town Hall provides information pertaining to the Victorian Italianate
and Second Empire Styles. It provides an important contrast to Sydney Town
Hall, a more complex and substantial town hall in the same style and of the
same period.

The Air Raid Shelter to the rear of the site has potential to yield further
information through historic research. Understanding why and when this
structure was built could reveal a great deal about the psyche of Sydneysiders
during World War II.
SHR Criteria f)
[Rarity]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo is not considered to be
significant under this criterion. It is one of a number of late nineteenth century
Town Halls in a classical revival Victorian styles to survive within the inner city
suburbs.

There are few known surviving examples of pillbox style World War II air raid
shelters within the City of Sydney. The example at Waterloo Town Hall,
however, has been extensively altered and can only be understood as a
former air raid shelter through documentary sources.
SHR Criteria g)
[Representativeness]
Waterloo Town Hall, 770 Elizabeth Street, Waterloo provides a largely intact,
representative example of a late nineteenth century town hall that has been
adapted over a period of 120 years to accommodate changing community
requirements. This adaptation has generally been achieved while retaining an
understanding of the original 1881 building and the 1914-1915 Social Hall and
Caretaker’s Quarters.
Integrity/Intactness: High
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

The building should be retained and conserved. A Heritage Assessment and Heritage Impact Statement, or a Conservation Management Plan, should be prepared for the building prior to any major works being undertaken. There shall be no vertical additions to the building and no alterations to the façade of the building other than to reinstate original features. The principal room layout and planning configuration as well as significant internal original features including ceilings, cornices, joinery, flooring and fireplaces should be retained and conserved. Any additions and alterations should be confined to the rear in areas of less significance, should not be visibly prominent and shall be in accordance with the relevant planning controls.

Listings

Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Local Environmental PlanSydney LEP 2012I208014 Dec 12   
Heritage study     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
South Sydney Heritage Study1993 Tropman & Tropman Architects  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenAnita Heiss Aboriginal People and Place, Barani: Indigenous History of Sydney City
WrittenWeir & Phllips2007Waterloo Town Hall Conservation Management Plan

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: Local Government
Database number: 2420704


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