Heidelberg Historical Society

Scraps of Old Heidelberg History

Taken from "The Staff", the Heidelberg Municipal Officers' Social Club Journal, December 1932

Heidelberg Municipal Chambers, formerly Heidelberg Shire Office.

"The inquirer into the history of the erection of the Heidelberg Shire Office is confronted with great difficulty, as the building has from time to time been altered almost beyond recognition; the writer therefore asks readers to be lenient in their criticisms and should any inaccuracies occur would be glad if they communicated with the Editor of this Journal.

(Well it's a bit late for that now, but HHS is most interested in any evidence to the contrary of this account.)

Investigation discloses that the business of the Municipality was first transacted in a small room at the rear of the old Court House, following which a three roomed building, situated on a site now occupied by the Heidelberg Park, was acquired. These two rooms and the Council Chamber were eventually removed to the present position, and are now accounted for by Rooms Nos. 1, 2, 3 and 4., as shown on the accompanying plan.

(Click on any of the highlighted numbers to view the plan of the offices.)

Very early in the history of the Shire, the Government presented the Council with the old Court house which had been replaced by the present brick structure; it was erected near the Shire Office and was to be used for library purposes.

(The brick structure referred to above was the Heidelberg Court from 1900 to 1979. It is the current home of the Heidelberg Historical Society.)

In 1909, it was decided to remove the office to its present position, and in due course it was placed on wheels and brought UP Darebin Street owing to the fact that it could not be taken under the Railway Bridge in Burgundy Street. At a later date,the Library followed the Office up the hill, and was placed as it is at present.

It is a remarkable fact that although this structure did not contain as great an area as did the old office, yet it required double the number of horses to draw it awing to the solid method of construction adopted when building it. With the arrival of the library, which was then used as a Council Chamber, the old forum was divided into two rooms, No. 3 being used as the President's Room and No. 4 as the Rate Collector's Office, and thus they have remained ever since.

The first additions to the offices were Rooms 5 & 6, erected for the use of the Engineering Staff, and later Room No. 8 as a Gas and Electric Light Office.

As the Municipality grew in stature, so did the staff in numbers, and it was soon found necessary to make additions, consequently Room No. 7 made its appearance. It was first occupied by the Engineer, whose staff remained in No. 6, No. 5 being added to the Rate Collector's kingdom.

Still the staff grew, and it was found expedient to erect Nos. 14 & 15. No. 14 was first used as a storeroom and Ranger's Office, No. 15 being placed at the disposal of the Electrical Engineer.

About this time, the office of the Building Surveyor was created, his first place of abode being in No. 6, with the Engineering Staff. The accommodation in this room, however, soon proved inadequate, and Rooms Nos. 12 & 13 were erected. No. 13 was the Engineer's private office, and No. 12 the draughting office. At this juncture, the Building Surveyor took over No. 14 in conjunction with the Rangers. No. 6 was then made available to the Rate Collector, No. 7 being shared by the Valuer and Securities Clerk.

Next comes Nos. 16 to 19, on the completion of which the Gas and Electric Light staff folded up its tents and silently stole away from No. 8, leaving it to the mercies of the General Staff, the members of which soon had it partitioned off into its present form.

(I've never heard anything more pathetic. By "present form", I remind you that this is from a 1932 document.)

About this time, the old strongroom was replaced by a new concrete erection (No. 10).

On the departure of the Electrical Engineer from No. 15 to No. 18, the Building Surveyor went into No. 15, and the Engineer took over No. 14, No. 13 being used by the clerical section of the Engineer's staff, No. 12 remaining a draughting room.

The last addition to our venerable pile was a brick plan room, No. 11.

Readers will appreciate that it would be impracticable to recount the numerous occasions on which it was found necessary to put up or pull down partitions, put in new doors or block up old ones, etc.; in fact, on one occasion, a facetious member of the staff suggested that officers be given a saw and a pair of snips, and be permitted to get in where most convenient."

The Staff.

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