Christchurch Town Hall

22 September 2022

50 years of the Christchurch Town Hall

This year marks 50 years since the Christchurch Town Hall opened on 30 September 1972. The Brutalist structure that features wooden panelling and beams was designed by renowned local architects Warren and Mahoney. Macmillan Brown Library holds the incredible 1968 drawings from the Warren and Mahoney collection in the archives. The Library’s published collection also includes a variety of books on the history of the building, its use and restoration.

The absence of an adequate Town Hall was far from ideal for the cultural community of Christchurch. From the 1950s, a push to raise funds for the creation of a Town Hall begun and there were strong opinions over where it should be located. The Limes Hospital site on Kilmore Street was eventually chosen and purchased, so the next step was to recruit an architect. Warren and Mahoney’s design won a two-stage competition in 1966 and the Town Hall finally opened in 1972, complete with its 2,500-seat auditorium and outstanding acoustics.

The Town Hall has been credited for its world class acoustics thanks to the pioneering acoustical research by Sir Harold Marshall. To test acoustics ahead of the opening night in 1972, a .45 calibre pistol, circa WW1, was fired in the auditorium.

The earthquake of 2011 severely damaged the building. In order to repair and improve the Town Hall, it needed to be partially demolished and after four years of work, it reopened again in 2019. Often described as Christchurch’s ‘living room’, this iconic building on the banks of the Avon River is one so many Cantabrians have a connection with.

Follow the links to read more about the above images:

Phone: +64 3 369 4499 (extn 94499) 
Email: macbrown@libr.canterbury.ac.nz

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