Civic Hall deserves the respect it is due
Opinion Piece in The Courier Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 – Page 16
I am appalled to learn of the Ballarat City Council’s interference with regard to the community design process of the Civic Hall site. I was under the impression this process would be an unbiased and independent study of the community’s attitudes and ideas towards finding a suitable design and integration of the Civic Hall. It seems that I am living under an illusion. How very disappointing.
The hall can only be viewed from its entrance behind a glass partition. This gives the visitor a clear message “keep out” .
Basic cleaning did not even take place before the opening day of the foyer back in October. Was this to make the hall look worse than it actually is?
Designer Mr HL Coburn would turn over in his grave at the abhorrent lack of respect for his work. In this city, Mr Coburn was an outstanding citizen, architect and Councillor for 14 years. He was mayor between 1945-46,during World War II, a most challenging term of office .
The plans were set in place for the promised Civic Hall in the 1930s, but could not be built due to the war effort that sucked up every penny from the city’s coffers and its citizens in the way of war loans.
Things were so desperate that public health infrastructure projects could not be undertaken as the then government would not release funds due to the increased demand for money for the war effort. The Ballarat North sewerage works could not commence even though there was expected to be an influx of evacuees from Melbourne and elsewhere and they would be housed at unsewered properties through no fault of the home owner. Authorities were touting vegetarianism due to the increasing “fly blitz” at the abattoirs. Funds would not be released to buy a cooling room for meat.
The Civic Hall is not just bricks and mortar, it is testimony to the perseverance of a long-serving Councillor and a community emerging from the darkest days of war with hope for a new way forward. How disrespectful of the Council to even consider the demolition of this building, designed by a former Councillor whose works are held in high esteem and considered exemplary in architectural circles. Let’s hope we can find a way forward and give this building and its designer’s reputation the chance it deserves to serve the community once more.
*World War II facts are from The Courier articles of 1942.
Snapshots of Mayor Herbert Leslie Coburn (Les) from the 1945 Mayoral Report
World Radio Day- featuring Civic Hall
World Radio Day is this Friday 13th February 2015 and The Ballarat Civic Hall will be the topic of a three hour program presented by Alan Steinman on 99.9 VoiceFM Community Radio.
There will be interviews as well as music from the past performers of The Civic Hall will be played . It will be a walk down memory lane with a stroll into the 1950’s through to the 1990’s . It is guaranteed to be topical and an informative update on issues surrounding The Civic Hall. Tune into 99.9 Voice Fm on 9.00am this Friday…if you are not near a radio you can do streaming on your computer by downloading the app…just copy and past the link below.
“Civic Hall- The People’s Hall “
Exhibition at the Backspace Gallery 4th -21st June 1015
Work on the exhibition is progressing nicely with lots of interesting items emerging. A visit to the Gold Museum unearthed some wonderful artifacts that will feature in the exhibition. We are still sourcing material and would be interested in hearing from the public if they have some memorabilia such as posters, photos, costumes etc..that they would be willing to loan for the exhibition. If you have any items please call
Merle Hathaway 0419 324042 / 03 5341 2751
Here is a sneak preview of some of the historical items and programs that will be on loan from the Gold Museum displayed at the exhibition: