The idea of a Memorial Hall

Newspaper article 1919, re Mt Torrens Soliders' Memorial Hall
Newspaper article from February 14th, 1919

Following repatriation efforts, it was recognised that the arranging of public meetings and concerts had always been handicapped by the fact that no public building was available (Back to Mount Torrens centenary celebrations, February 12, 13, and 14, 1937 : souvenir)  

After the winding-up meeting of the local repatriation day effort, "those present formed themselves into a committee, with a view to pushing a scheme for the building of a public hall for the township, and as a soldiers' memorial. A public hall is a thing that has long been needed, and it was thought that nothing better or more lasting as a memorial to those lads who had gone to serve their country (some never to return) could be erected.  Mr. F. S. Clark was elected Chairman, and  Mr. E. P. Mullins secretary. The idea is to work up interest and to get a united effort.  The repatriation day results show what a small locality can do if the effort is a united one."  MOUNT TORRENS. (1919, February 14). The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 - 1954), p. 3.  

A public meeting was held at the Mount Torrens Hotel on August 7th 1919 in reference to building of a Soldiers Memorial Institute Hall.  The executive appointed at the meeting were Mr William James (President), Mr E.P Mullins (Secretary), Mr  Hannam, Mr H. James, Mr W. Watkins, Mr O.B Kerber, and Mr B. Bartholomew.

A Trust was formed with three in charge of funds Mr E.J. Sumner, Mr W. James, and Mr E.P. Mullins.

"The committee appointed for the effort of erecting a Soldiers' Memorial Hall have decided to hold a big day to raise funds for that purpose, on 'Saturday, November 1, and are confidently looking forward to a good response. The want of a hall for public meetings and entertainments has long been felt here, but one of the difficulties facing the committee is the securing of a suitable site for the building."  MOUNT TORRENS. (1919, August 29). The Mount Barker Courier and Onkaparinga and Gumeracha Advertiser (SA : 1880 - 1954), p. 3.  

The Gala Day was a great success with people turning out in great numbers.  Three Queens were presented with a gold brooch as a souvenir.  Funds raised clearing £548.

The land

Copy of original Certificate of Title of land for Mt Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall
Original Certificate Title for land for Mt Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall

In 1922, Sophie Mary Tuck very generously gave the land on which the hall is built. Sophie, who was the local teacher, owned the land having inherited such from her father and then mother in 1901.  Find more information on the Tuck family here.

December 4th 1919 a Trust was established.  These trustees are listed on the Certificate of Title Vol 1235 Folio 112.

Signed the 3rd day of May 1922 .


William James was Chairman/President of the Hall Trust from 1922 until his death in 1942.  Mr B. Hammer was appointed President in July 1942.


In December 1946, the within land is vested for an estate in fee simple to Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall Incorporated by virtue of the provisions of the Associations Incorporations Act 1929-1935.  The property remains owned by the Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall Incorporated today.

The hall

This Stone was laid by Hon.Sir J.Lancelot Striling K.C.M.G.M.L.C on December 9. 1922.
Foundation stone for Mt Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall
This Stone was laid by Hon.Sir J.Lancelot Striling K.C.M.G.M.L.C on December 9. 1922.
A few days before the opening of the Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall
Opening of the Mount Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall
The opening of the Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall
Early photo of Mt Torrens Soliders' Memorial Hall
An early image of the Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall
Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall
Thankyou to the Mount Torrens History Centre for historical photos sourced from their collection.

The architect brief for the hall was 2 reading rooms in front of main hall to seat 400, with stage.

Mr Williams was appointed architect, March 1921.

Mr E.P. Mullins donated blue stone to build the hall.  Sand was carted to the site by volunteers.  Stone was also purchased and carted from Mr. Harrison's property (at Charleston) to build the front of the hall.

There was difficulty obtaining a bank loan, and cost to build the hall could not be negotiated with the builder, so following the success of the Queens Gala Day in 1919, a Gala Day to hold an Ugly Man Competition was planned for November 1921.  Funds raised clearing £285.

Mr R.M. Dickson was awarded the tender to build the hall for £1504, September 1922.

The foundation stone was laid by Hon. Sir J. Lancelot Stirling K.C.M.C.M.L.C on December 9. 1922.

The hall opened on Saturday 21st April 1923 

as reported Monday, 23rd April 1923

"The Advertiser, Adelaide"  


The Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Institute Hall was opened by the Hon. R.T. Melrose when a large number of residents were present.  The hall is in the main street, and the site was presented to the committee by Miss S.M. Tuck.  In the erection of the hall much voluntary work has been done, and through the efforts of the local ladies guild the hall has been freed from debt, and a piano has also been bought.  The following constitutes the committee:- Messer's W. James (chairman), E.P Mullins (secretary), W.W. and E.T. Sumner, W. Hicks, T.J. Hannan, and W.C. Watkins.  The stone for the building was presented by Mrs Mullins, sen., and the sand by Mr D. Bennett.

In declaring the hall open Mr. Melrose congratulated the residents on having such a fine memorial to the men who had enlisted from the district in the war.  Of the 34 men who joined the colors nine had lost their lives.  During the war Mount Torrens had raised £1,400 toward patriotic funds.  That in itself spoke volumes for the loyalty of the residents.  The completed hall served to show what the united efforts of a small community could do.  He hoped a good library would be obtained and he appealed to the people to give their whole-hearted co-operation to the committee in regard to the upkeep of the hall.  The cost of the building and furniture was about £2,300.

The chairman of the committee presented Mr. Melrose with a silver key as a memento of the occasion.

Messrs. H.D. Young, M.P., J.F. Godfree, M.P. and J.B. Randell, M.P. also spoke in congratulatory terms of what the residents had achieved.

Councilor G.H. Bennett unveiled two machine guns, which were presented to the committee by the Defence Department.  After the ceremony a programmed of sports was carried out.  Results:- Horse over Hurdles - O.B. Bell's Moonacre.  Melon Race - D.B. Bell's Peggoty.  Bending Race - D.B. Bells Peggoty. Walk, Trot, Gallop - C.B. Bells Moonacre.  Tilting on Horseback - J.C. Hannam.  Stepping the Distance - P. Hentschke.  Bowling at Stump - R.K. Bartholomew, J.C. Hannan (tie).  Tossing the Caber - R.K. Bartholomew.  Guessing the Weight of a Sheep - G. Dyer and W. Bottroff (tie) 89lb.  Ladies Walking Race - Miss E. Hicks.

In the hall there was a sale of goods, and the following were the stallholders:- Jumble Mesdames J. and W. Sumner and W. James; produce Mesdames B.T. Bartholomew and W.D. Watkins; cake Miss H. James and Mrs F. James; cool drinks, Mr W. Thomas and Miss W. Hicks; sweets Mrs T. Yetman; afternoon tea Mr W.G. Woods; luncheon Mrs C. Clarke; and sports Messrs J. Hicks and W.H. Watkins.  A concert was given in the evening, and as a result of the day's proceedings nearly £200 was received.

Additional article in The Journal.  http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article209318331

Foundation stone Mt Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall
Foundation Stone - A tribute to the Womens Guild 1920-60.  Unveiled by Mrs F.S. Hicks, Pres.
Mt Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall
The front porch built in 1961

The addition of a front porch at the hall was first discussed in 1924, and reconvened in 1936 for centenary efforts; to be built as a memorial porch.  

The Ladies Guild offered to donate funds in 1930 and again in 1936, however the plans were abandoned each time due to cost.

The front porch was discussed again in 1955, with plans prepared. There was a public meeting held, and the decision was made to take a loan of £800 to erect the front porch.

The members of the Ladies Guild were given the option by the Committee of Management to dedicate the Foundation Stone in tribute of their choosing; a gesture in appreciation of their work in supporting the hall over many years.  The Ladies Guild accepted the offer and donated £200 pounds.  Final wording on the Foundation Stone was made by the Committee of Management.

The opening of the front porch was held on the 25th March 1961 with Senator E.W. Mattner attending.

Find more information on the Ladies Guild here.

Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall
The red brick ladies lavatory on the south side of the hall built in 1966

A ladies lavatory was built in 1953 in the SE corner of the property; with septic tank installed.   The bricks were purchased from the Onkaparinga Brick Co, Lobethal.  

In 1966, due to disrepair of the gents toilet (location unknown), a new ladies lavatory was built on the south side of the hall, with one internal and one external toilet.  The septic system was also upgraded.  The old ladies toilets was turned into the gents toilets; the old gents toilet demolished.

These red brick building improvements are still in use today.

State Heritage Area

Opening of Mount Torrens Soldiers' Memorial Hall
An early image of the Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall

The Mount Torrens Soldiers Memorial Hall itself is not heritage listed however it lies within the State Heritage Area of Mount Torrens which is an outstanding example of a 19th century settlement in the Adelaide Hills.