Stained Salvage

The (Short-Lived) Narrabri Town Hall

Described as ‘splendid’ and ‘imposing,’ the Narrabri Town Hall was a two-story brick building erected on Doyle Street in 1892. Built at a cost of 3,500 pounds (including furniture), it was officially opened the following year by the Governor, Sir Robert Duff, who used a ceremonial golden key presented to him for the occasion.

Stained glass was an integral part of architecture at the time, so it was decided that the design for the entrance should include the grand arch of a stained glass window. It was made by Goodlet & Smith in Sydney, one of the growing number of Australian firms established to satisfy the booming demand for stained glass. By the time the window was made, Mr G.S.E. Dale was the town mayor and so his name was given pride of place on the window.

Dale became the first mayor to hold meetings in the council chambers which resided on the second floor. In fact, he would likely have been one of the first to wander through Town Hall itself, including the large hall with a stage and gallery capable of seating a thousand people.

The hall became a local hub which hosted all types of events, including a show in 1927 called Clay’s Vaudeville. The event featured a soprano, a comedienne from New York, and Chung Lee Foo, the ‘great Eastern magician,’ who ‘endeavoured’ to catch bullets in his teeth and escape hand cuffs and straight jackets. It is easy to imagine this show packing the hall to capacity.

In 1902, an artesian bore was sunk in the yard but was abandoned when no water was found over 600 metres below. The building was extended in 1914 (at a cost of 300 pounds) with an additional clock and tower built in 1930 (for 900 pounds). But just a few decades later, in 1969, the building was declared unsafe and set to be demolished.

During demolition, the stained glass window and clock were salvaged. The clock was re-installed in the Narrabri District Soldiers Memorial while, years later, the window would be proudly displayed at the Narrabri Old Gaol and Museum – another window to the past.