Melbourne Town Hall

Melbourne Town Hall
Melbourne Town Hall (December 2014).jpg
Melbourne Town Hall at night featuring Christmas projections, December 2014
General information
LocationMelbourne, Victoria, Australia
Construction started1867

Melbourne Town Hall is the central city town hall of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, and is a historic building in the state of Victoria since 1867. Located in the central business district on the northeast corner of the intersection between Swanston and Collins Street, it is the seat of the local municipality of the City of Melbourne, and has been used for multiple purposes such as concerts, theatrical plays and exhibitions.


Melbourne Town Hall, 1910

Melbourne was officially incorporated as a town on 13 December 1842, with Henry Condell as its first Mayor. However, it wasn't until 1854 that its first Town Hall was completed. Begun in 1851, the work ground to a halt with the beginning of the Victorian gold rush. The foundation stone of a new, grander Town Hall was laid on 29 November 1867 by the visiting Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, after the demolition of the first. The current Town Hall officially opened on 11 August 1870 with a lavish ball, which was personally funded by the Lord Mayor Samuel Amess.

The foundation stone of the additional front portico was laid in 1887, and Sir Henry Weedon laid the foundation of the administrative annex building on 27 August 1908.

During the Melbourne International Comedy Festival the Melbourne Town Hall acts as venue to a large number of the performances.

An early cinema event Soldiers of the Cross premiered at the Melbourne Town Hall on the 13th September 1900 to an audience of about four thousand people.

In 1925, a fire destroyed a large part of the town hall, including the main auditorium and pipe organ. It was rebuilt and enlarged, extending east over the site previously occupied by the Victoria Coffee Palace, an early temperance hotel frequented by Melbourne's power brokers. The rebuilt section lost some of Reed's original flourishes including the elaborate mansard roof.

In 1964, The Beatles attended a civic reception at the Melbourne Town Hall. "Outside 20,000 teenagers had gathered to obtain a glimpse of the pop idols. Again, frenzied and hysterical cheering and uncontrollable screaming erupted when the Beatles emerged."


The Town Hall was designed by the famous local architect Joseph Reed and Barnes, in the Second Empire style. Reed's designs also included the State Library of Victoria, the Royal Exhibition Building, and Melbourne Trades Hall.

The building is topped by Prince Alfred's Tower, named after the Duke. The tower includes a 2.44 m diameter clock, which was started on 31 August 1874, after being presented to the council by the Mayor's son, Vallange Condell. It was built by Smith and Sons of London. The longest of its copper hands measures 1.19 m long, and weighs 8.85 kg.


The Main Auditorium includes a magnificent concert organ, now comprising 147 ranks and 9,568 pipes. The organ can be played by a fixed console located directly beneath the front pipes or by a secondary mobile console which is placed in close view of the audience for recitals. This organ is of great significance as it is the largest and most comprehensive pipe organ in Australia (measuring by number of voices/stops, the Sydney Opera House organ has more pipes thanks to its entirely "straight" design; there is no borrowing or duplexing at all whereas the Melbourne Town Hall organ makes extensive use of borrowing in the pedal division). The organ is best suited for romantic and symphonic works but is capable of playing just about anything thanks to its vast tonal resources.

History of the organ

The Grand Organ, Melbourne Town Hall 1872, Charles Nettleton State Library Victoria H96.160/2732
Melbourne Town Hall organ

The organ was originally built by Hill & son (of England) in 1872 before a fire destroyed it in 1925. A new organ constructed by Hill Norman & Beard was installed in 1929 and has since then been rebuilt and enlarged by Schantz Organ Company of the United States of America from 1995 to 2001 at a cost of $4.5 million. The rebuild included 2 new floating divisions (Fanfare & Bombarde), many new voices and a secondary moveable console

Console of the Melbourne Town Hall Organ in 2019


The stop list is as follows:

I. Choir II. Great III. Swell Pedal IV. Solo Bombarde
Contra Salicional 16 Double Open Diapason 16 Contra Violone 32 Gravissima 64 Quintaton 16 Grand Diapason 8
Horn Diapason 8 Tibia Profunda 16 Bourdon 16 Double Open Diapason 32 Harmonic Claribel 8 Principal 4
Corno Flute 8 Contra Geigen 16 Violine 16 Tibia Profunda 32 Flute Celeste 8 Grave Mixture V-VI
Flute Celeste II Open Diapason I 8 Diapason Phonon 8 Contra Bourdon Acoustic 32 Violoncello 8 Fourniture IV-V
Lieblich Gedeckt 8 Open Diapason II 8 Geigen Principal 8 Contra Violone 32 Cello Celeste 8 Grand Chorus VI-VIII
Salicional 8 Diapason Phonon 8 Flauto Traverso 8 Open Diapason 16 Salicional 8 Contra Posaune 16
Voix Céleste 8 Tibia Plena 8 Cor de Nuit 8 Tibia Profunda 16 Concert Flute Harmonic 4 Posaune 8
Lieblich Flöte 4 Harmonic Flute 8 Bourdon 8 Great Bass 16 Nazard Harmonique 2 2/3 Clarion 4
Gemshorn 4 Hohl Flöte 8 Gamba 8 Bourdon 16 Harmonic Piccolo 2
Echo Viola 4 Rohr Flöte 8 Gamba Celeste 8 Lieblich Bourdon 16 Tierce 1 3/5
Harmonic Piccolo 2 Gamba Major 8 Aeoline 8 Contra Bass 16 Schalmei 16
Dulciana Cornet III Octave Diapason 4 Vox Angelica 8 Violone 16 Tuba 8
Tuba Sonora 8 Octave Phonon 4 Principal 4 Geigen 16 French Horn 8
Cor Anglais 8 Principal 4 Harmonic Flute 4 Contra Salicional 16 Corno di Bassetto 8
Closed Horn 8 Tibia Octave 4 Rohr Flute 4 String Bass 16 Clarinet 8
Cremona 8 Wald Flöte 4 Octave Gamba 4 Quint 10 2/3 Orchestral Oboe 8
Octave Quint 2 2/3 Harmonic Quint 2 2/3 Prestant 8 Fanfare Orchestral
Stopped Quint 2 2/3 Piccolo 2 Principal 8 Tuba 16 Contra Viola 16
Super Octave 2 Salicetina 2 Geigen Principal 8 Sub Trumpet 16 Tibia Clausa 8
Fifteenth 2 Tierce 1 3/5 Flute Major 8 Tuba Sonora 8 Viol d'Orchestre II
Tierce 1 3/5 Chorus Mixture V Bass Flute 8 Tuba 8 Orchestral Strings II
Grand Fourniture VI-VII Grave Mixture III Stopped Flute 8 Trumpet Victoria 8 String Celeste II
Chorus Mixture V Sharp Mixture III Lieblich Bourdon 8 Octave Sonora 4 Octave Viola 4
Mixture IV Double Trumpet 16 Violoncello 8 Tuba 4 Orchestral Strings
Contra Trombone 32 Bassoon 16 Super Octave 4
Trombone 16 Cornopean 8 Fifteenth 4
Fagotto 16 Trumpet Victoria 8 Open Flute 4
Trumpet Victoria 8 Orchestral Trumpet 8 Grand Fourniture VI
Tromba 8 Horn 8 Fourniture IV
Harmonic Trumpet 8 Oboe 8 Diaphone 32
Clarion 4 Vox Humana 8 Double Ophicleide 32
Clairon 4 Contra Fagotto 32
Tuba 16
Octave Diaphone 16
Ophicleide 16
Posaune 16
Trombone 16
Bassoon 16
Schalmei 16
Tuba 8
Trumpet Victoria 8
Trumpet 8
Bassoon 8
Clarion 4


Coordinates: 37°48′55″S 144°58′00″E / 37.815145°S 144.966777°E / -37.815145; 144.966777

This page was last updated at 2023-03-25 15:34 UTC. Update now. View original page.

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