Chambers were town’s hub

Neville ThompsonGeraldton Guardian

This is a 1928 view of the Geraldton Municipal Chambers built in Chapman Road in 1897.

It was the seat of local government until the present civic centre in Cathedral Avenue was officially opened by the Queen on March 24, 1963.

The municipal chambers had a big counter inside the main door where the bulk of customers inquires were handled.

The building included an office for the town clerk, the mayor’s parlour for entertaining and a big council meeting room across the rear of the building.

As Geraldton developed additional departments were created, including one handling traffic.

In 1927 World War I veteran Les Smythe was appointed the first traffic inspector. Les had lost an arm during the war and his official transport for getting around the town to supervise traffic was a pushbike.

While riding my pushbike in the late 1930s I received a stern talking to from Les over a minor traffic matter.

During World War II, the Geraldton public were very generous in subscribing to numerous Commonwealth war loans.

In recognition of this the council was ceremoniously presented with at least a dozen specially printed two-metre-long variously coloured felt pennants which were proudly displayed on the southern wall of the council chambers.

Over time the cramped council chambers were unable to cater for expanding departments and some, including the health inspectors, moved to a rented semi-detached house on the other side of Chapman Road. After the new civic centre was in full use, the dilapidated 1897 council chambers were demolished and today the site is a lawn area between the Art Gallery and Murchison Tavern.

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