Boulder Town Hall Tour, Western Australia
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
Taking part in the tour of the Boulder Town Hall is to step back to 1908, the year it was built. With the Goldfields being highly prosperous, the town wanted to showcase this wealth with pride and confidence in its Town Hall. It is a magnificent example of the Federation freestyle mode of architecture at the time. It cost 12,000 pounds to build (compared to the 22,000 pounds that the Kalgoorlie town hall cost in the same year).
It is an imposing brick and stone building with the roof held up by Canadian Oregon Pine, being both lightweight and termite resistant. There is a glorious non-striking clock tower on the corner of the street. Entering into the foyer, you see one staircase on the left that leads to the Library and one on the right that leads to the Council Chambers. At the left and right are two booths that sold tickets to the patrons using the dress circle. The beautiful tiled floors were laid in 2008 with the design copied from the original Lancashire linoleum. The BMC stands for Boulder Municipal Council.
Moving forward through the foyer you enter the hall, which was the centre of community life for Boulder. This was the height of Boulder culture, to be in the Town Hall, eating English and Italian food, wearing European fashion, drinking European wine. This magnificent hall is 21metres (70 feet) long, 17 metres (55 feet) wide and 10 metres (32 feet) to the ceiling.
The main hall has wrought iron balustrades, pressed metal ceilings made in Sydney, Oregon pine floors and a magnificent Philip Goetcher Theatre Curtain. The curtain is painted in the Tromp-l’oeil painting style and depicts the Bay of Naples. Looking at the curtain it seems to be 3 dimensional, until you look closer. This curtain is believed to be the last remaining working stage curtain by Goetcher of its kind in Australia and is priceless.
Part of the ceiling was open to the air, allowing the hall to be cool for patrons. Today, it has a mechanical sliding room that can be opened if required.
The Hall was often used as a theatre where famous celebrities would come and perform. Dame Nellie Melba, Eileen Joyce (a gifted pianist who grew up in Boulder) and Joan Sutherland sang here in the early days. Hush, Dragon, Sherbet, Men at Work and AC/DC are among the bands that also played here up until the late 1970's. The hall saw “events, concerts, film nights and performances ranging from symphony orchestras to sideshow performances such as Zelda the Contortionist and her mother, the Tattooed Lady.”
Posters around the walls on the bottom level tell the stories of past glories.
Designed to originally hold up to 900 people, both on the main floor and the upper dress circle. The wooden chairs used here were made especially for the Town Hall in 1908 are still in place on the dress circle.
The Council Chambers showcase furniture from 1942, and the walls are adorned with pictures of the mayors from 1908-1969.
The first mayor of Boulder was John Marquis Hopkins, born in Victoria in 1870. He was only 27 when appointed Mayor in 1897. He served until 1901. He later served one year of his five-year sentence, in Fremantle Prison, for uttering (fraud), and died in 1912 in Victoria. The last mayor before the separate cities of Kalgoorlie and Boulder amalgamated, was Adam Altham 1968-1969.
In 2010 there was an earthquake that hit Boulder and much of the town suffered. The Town Hall was repaired and a display in the main hall shows stories from this time.
The tour of the Boulder Town Hall takes about an hour and is full of fascinating and informative stories told by Tim the tour guide. Tim is very passionate about the Kalgoorlie-Boulder area, having lived here since he was a child.
This is one activity that you should definitely see and do when in the Goldfields area.