Albany Town Hall

The Albany Town Hall will be the region’s flagship arts presentation venue, with high spec galleries, artisan retail opportunities and a multi-functional flat floor space to support a range of arts and cultural events, civic events, performances and exhibitions.

The venue will further activate the CBD, contribute to the growth of economic development and tourism, enhance liveability and help build the profile of our region’s people, places and stories.

Extensive construction has been carried out to bring new life to this much-loved local icon since work began in October 2019. This has included conservation works, essential safety and structural repairs, upgrades to existing infrastructure and the development of new facilities.

The Town Hall reopened to the public in early December 2020 and already the Ground Floor Galleries are fully programmed until December 2021 with staff onsite providing a concierge service. The City is excited to bring a broad range of exhibitions to the community, including the Great Southern Art Award. The first-floor hall will also be available for hire, subject to COVID-19 restrictions.

Town Hall logo

New Town Hall logo created for City of Albany by Mule Creative

Re-purposing Work highlights

The tiered seating and mezzanine wings in the first-floor auditorium have been removed, restoring the original multi-purpose flat-floor. A new stage hoist and access stair have also been installed, as well as improved house lighting.

The existing public galleries and community spaces on the ground-floor have been painted and upgraded, with air conditioning units being installed and the flooring being refurbished.

The public toilets accessible from the Town Square have been replaced and the internal toilets have been upgraded.

Other completed works include:

  • A new ground-floor staff working space
  • Essential safety repairs, such as the replacement of fire escape stairs and the installation of a new hydrant and water supply
  • A new external walkway and front entrance automatic door
  • Refurbished existing stairs and walkways
  • Enhanced storage, loading and building services
  • Upgraded lighting and electrical networks

What you can see and do in the Town Hall

Ground Floor Galleries

Exhibitions presented in the Ground Floor Galleries will reflect professional gallery standards and will be 100% curated. This means that experienced staff will manage the spread of programming.

Exhibition Program for 2021

(Dates open to public)

  • Dec 4th – Mar 25th – City of Albany Art Collection – 6330: Kinjarling Place of Plenty
  • Apr 2nd – May 15thGreat Southern Art Award 2021 (Community art exhibition)
  • May 21st – Jun 27thPreppers (AOTM Touring exhibition)
  • Jul 3rd – Aug 15th – “There Were Moments of Transformation” (AGWA Touring exhibition)
  • Aug 19th – Sept 26thCity of Albany Art Collection
  • Sept 30th – Nov 2ndOver Here– Local Artist group exhibition
  • Nov 7th – Dec 7th – Chris Young – Eight: The Shift and Elisa Markes-Young Saudade

First Floor Auditorium

The first-floor will primarily be available for hire by artists, art groups and organisations for the presentation of cultural and creative events and will offer some aspects of a curated program, specifically in relation to live music and support for the development of creative industries.

It will be suitable for the presentation of a range of events, such as:

  • Community exhibitions and events
  • Artisan, designer and maker fairs or exhibitions with a commercial orientation
  • Cultural and creative industry symposiums, events, lectures, talks, exhibitions (film, fashion, design, heritage etc.)
  • Multi-artform installations
  • Contemporary performance development and presentation
  • Live music and concerts
  • Cabaret and cocktail style events and functions
  • Dancehall style events
  • Civic events

Town Hall Opening Hours

Tuesday to Saturday, 10am - 5pm
Open on public holiday Mondays and Mondays during school holidays

Town Hall Contact Details

217 York Street, Albany WA 6330
PO Box 484, Albany WA 6331

Phone
6820 3850 

Email
arts@albany.wa.gov.au

Socials
@AlbanyArts

HISTORY OF THE TOWN HALL

The following has been sourced from the Albany Town Hall Conservation Plan, prepared for the City of Albany by David Heaver and Associates Architects, with Robin Chinnery Historian in 2005. All images courtesy of the Albany History Collection. 

Albany Town Hall, Municipal Library - Victoria House, Day and Phillips bakery and the part of Douglas House [ca 1900]

Albany Town Hall, Municipal Library - Victoria House, Day and Phillips bakery and the part of Douglas House         

 Albany Town Hall is an important civic and landmark building. Located at, and defining the centre of Albany, it has been the focus for municipal and cultural activities in the city since its completion in 1888. Originally the building had municipal and commercial offices on the ground floor with a large public hall on the first floor. This hall provided a venue for cultural and community events such as theatre, cinema, meetings and dances. In September 1870, the first election for the first Municipal Council of Albany was held, and the Council met for the first time in March 1871. In 1875, the want of a Town Hall for public business and public amusement purposes was first recorded in the Council Minutes.

 In the early to mid-1880s, there was continued debate as to the best site for a proposed town hall at Albany, with disagreement as to the merits of siting it in Stirling Terrace or in York Street. When attempts to raise a loan for building a town hall proved unsuccessful, the project would have to be deferred. On 8 December 1882, a Special Meeting of Albany Municipal Council adopted a works programme for the following year, provided a loan of £6,000 was procured. The works included a Town Hall with Municipal Offices, for which £2,000 was to be set apart, the grading and macadamising of 11 streets, and other road works. The proposed Town Hall was to measure 100 ft. x 43 ft. externally, and to allow two dressing rooms or waiting rooms at the rear of the hall proper. The upper hall was to measure 80 ft. x 40ft. in the clear. Initially, the height from floor to ceiling was to be 12 ft., which was amended to14 ft., and the height of the top floor to the wall plate was to be 14 ft., which was amended to 16 ft., in the clear with coomb ceiling. The gallery at the end was to be 16 ft. wide, commencing at an 18 ins. step at the bottom to the back wall of the hall for the full width of the hall. On 22 December 1882, a well attended ratepayers' meeting, held to take a poll of those against proceeding with the loan, voted in favor of the Council floating the loan. 

 The proposed Town Hall reflected the aspirations of the citizens of Albany in the 1880s, as Albany looked forward to a period of rapid development with the building of the Great Southern Railway, and anticipated its continuance as the main port for the Colony in the foreseeable future. The Town Hall was to serve the town's current and future needs as it grew and developed, and should be a worthy symbol of Albany's role in Western Australia, "a building which when finished, will compete with any of its kind in similar small districts of the Australian colonies" . On 3 October 1883, Mr. Henderson of Henderson and Marryat, Architects, of Adelaide, visited Albany enroute to Perth, where he planned to establish a practice. Whilst at Albany, he inspected the site for the proposed town hall with the Municipal Council, and he was instructed to prepare plans for the building for their approval. Funding for the project proved difficult and it was not until 9 July 1886 that Council resolved to accept a tender from Messrs. Lock (sic), Harrison and Hamilton of £4,986 to construct the building. A week later at a special meeting it was decided to add 'a short tower or dome for the purposes of showing the four faces to a striking clock' at further cost. 

[1890] (Pre installation of clock)

[1890] (Pre installation of clock)

 On 9 December 1886, with considerable fanfare, the foundation stone for Albany Town Hall was laid by the Mayoress, Mrs. W. G. Knight. A bugler called the townsfolk to the construction site, where the Mayor 'placed several coins of the realm in a bottle covered with leather', a copy of 'last Wednesday's Albany Mail', and a notice recording the event beneath the foundation stone. 

 On 1 June 1888, Albany Town Hall was officially opened by the Mayor, W. G. Knight. Those attending the ceremony, which took place in the Hall due to inclement weather, included the Acting Government Resident, Mr. Hare, J. A. Wright, and the Managing Director of the West Australian Land Company, S. S. Young, who were seated on the stage, along with a number of ladies of Albany. Messrs. Otto & Bloome took photographs of the memorable occasion. The Albany Mail reported 'The banqueting hall was very handsomely draped with flags, while every available space was filled with oleographs', with pots of flowers on every window sill, 'not detracting from the general look of the hall which is the finest in the colony.' After the ceremony a banquet was held and in the evening, the first ball was held at the Town Hall, a use which would be popular for many years. In autumn 1889, electrical lighting was installed at the Town Hall. In late February 1891, Messrs. Jackson & Brodie installed the clock in the tower at a cost of £107. On 15 April, the clock was formally started at three minutes to 3pm.

 In May 1895, the Council resolved to convert the four offices in Gordon Street to a small lecture theatre by removing the inner walls, to provide a small hall, which would be available for small meetings, and be 'convenient of access from the back of the main hall and the Council Chamber', By mid-1896, these alterations were completed. A Volunteer Fire Brigade was organised and equipped in 1909. A small Fire Brigade building of timber and iron construction was erected to the north of the Town Hall, as seen in photographs dating from c. 1910.

A large crowd assemble outside the Town Hall on Peace Day of the Boer War, 31st May 1902

A large crowd assemble outside the Town Hall on Peace Day of the Boer War, 31st May 1902                   

In May 1912, tenders were received for a dress circle to be constructed at the rear of the hall. Council agreed to accept the lowest, from C. F. Layton, at a cost of £470 5s. In the latter half of 1912, Layton duly carried out the works to the Town Hall, including building new escape staircases on the northern side of the building.

Albany Choral Society on stage at the Albany Town Hall [ca 1920]

Albany Choral Society on stage at the Albany Town Hall [ca 1920]

In 1965, the Council decided to build new administration offices and a library in York Street, north of the Town Hall, and on their completion to demolish the former fire station building, which accommodated the St. John's Ambulances, on the site between the proposed new building and the Town Hall. 

Interior of the Albany Town prior alterations showing the grand piano [ca 1960]

Interior of the Albany Town prior alterations showing the grand piano [ca 1960]

In March 1966, it was reported that the Lower Hall was to accommodate Albany's art collection. A letter to the newspaper commented that housing the library at the Town Hall would not be a compatible use with an art gallery. In 1967, a new municipal office building was constructed to the north of the place. Albany Town Hall continued to be used as a public hall for theatre and other community events.

Municipal Library on York Street prior demolition with St Johns Ambulance building and the Town Hall [ca 1966]

Municipal Library on York Street prior demolition with St Johns Ambulance building and the Town Hall [ca 1966]

It became run down and in the early 1980s Hassell and Partners, architects, directed work to refurbish the building. On the ground floor toilet facilities and a lift were introduced to the mayoral chamber and adjacent room. On the first floor a lobby, bar store, lifts and extra stair was introduced at the east end of the hall. Tiered seating was introduced to create an auditorium within the hall. The stage was extended considerably. An extension was constructed on the rear (west) facade to provide dressing rooms, public toilets and a plant room. This work was completed in 1983. Since then the place has operated as an intimate theatre with a seating capacity of 300. The alterations and additions to Albany Town Hall were completed in 1983, at a cost of $1million.

Heritage Significance

Heritage listings

  • National Trust of Australia (W.A.):
  • Australian Heritage Commission:
  • Heritage Council of Western Australia:
  • City of Albany: Classified, 4 April 1977.
  • Register of the National Estate, 21 March 1983
  • Register of Heritage Places, Interim Entry, 31 May 1996, and Permanent Entry, 29 November 1996.
  • Listed in the Municipal Heritage Inventory
    • (adopted on 30 June 2001) Management category A+.