A Wealth of Stories


• The colony’s first telegraph message from Perth to Fremantle was transmitted from the Town Hall in 1869.

• In 1875 explorer Ernest Giles arrived in Perth following his expedition from South Australia. His camels remained in the Undercroft whilst the City hosted a welcoming party for Giles and his party upstairs in the Main Hall.

• That same year Council’s newest purchase, a fire engine, was garaged in the Undercroft. However, keeping horses to pull the engine proved too expensive for the Council, so when the fire alarm (the bell in the tower) was rung, the horses from the cabs outside the Town Hall were hitched up to pull the engine to the fire.

• Upstairs, the Main Hall became a social centre for the community beginning with the “Monster Tea Party”, just a few days after the opening day festivities. Over 900 people attended (nowadays the Hall’s legal capacity is 400). In addition to the municipal activities, concerts, exhibitions, bazaars, lectures, dances, skating, stage shows and balls were held over the following years.

• Some governors were sworn in at the Town hall. The Town Hall served as the central polling booth for many elections, while generations would gather under the tower every December 31 to hear the New Year rung in by the bells of the Thwaites and Reed clock. Flags on the tower mast announced the arrival of ships carrying mail.

• From just before the turn of the Century until 1924, the original market area housed the Fire Brigade, several Council offices and a variety of tenants. Council occupants, located in the north east corner with the Fire Brigade behind, included the Metropolitan Inspector of Weights and Measures, the City Engineer, Perth Local Board of Health, Perth City Council Traffic Inspector and the Town Clerk. The Perth Electric Tramway Receiving and Lost Property Offices were also here. Other tenants, housed in the half of the building facing Barrack Street, were the Perth Building Society, South British Insurance Co., R.H. Barrett, Land agent and shareholder, and E Sholl, Solicitor.

• Craven’s Pharmacy was one of first retailers to move into the Town Hall and remained there until tenancies ended in 2001, easily becoming the City’s longest-standing tenant in the process!

• During World War I, the Town Hall was a recruiting centre and preparation point for ‘home comforts’ to be sent to troops overseas.