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ASSESSMENT OF CULTURAL
HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE AND
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
RECOMMENDATION TO THE
HERITAGE COUNCIL
NAME
LOCATION
VHR NUMBER:
CATEGORY:
HERITAGE OVERLAY
FILE NUMBER:
HERMES NUMBER:
FORMER ROYAL AUSTRALIAN CORPS OF SIGNALS DRILL HALL
29A ALBERT ROAD DRIVE SOUTH, ALBERT PARK
PROV VHR H2362
HERITAGE PLACE
PORT PHILLIP PLANNING SCHEME, HO446 (Albert Park Lake Precinct)
FOL/16/10158
2189
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR RECOMMENDATION TO THE HERITAGE COUNCIL:
 That the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall be included as a Heritage Place in the
Victorian Heritage Register under the Heritage Act 1995 [Section 32 (1)(a)].
TIM SMITH
Executive Director
Recommendation Date: 22 July 2016
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 1
EXTENT OF NOMINATION
All of the place known as the Albert Park Army Signal Corps Hall and Residences. All of Allotment 2027 City of
South Melbourne, Parish of Melbourne, Crown Land, SPI 2027\PP3084D.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 2
RECOMMENDED REGISTRATION
All of the place shown hatched on Diagram 2362 encompassing all of Crown Allotment 2027, City of South
Melbourne, Parish of Melbourne South.
The extent of registration of the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall in the Victorian Heritage
Register affects the whole place shown on Diagram 2362 including the land, all buildings (including the
interiors and exteriors), roads, trees, landscape elements and other features.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 3
AERIAL PHOTO OF THE PLACE SHOWING PROPOSED REGISTRATION
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 4
STATEMENT OF CULTURAL HERITAGE SIGNIFICANCE
WHAT IS SIGNIFICANT?
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall, including the Administration Building fronting Albert
Road Drive South, the Drill Hall, two residences either side of the Administration Building, the workshop and
garage building along the west of the site, and original gates, fencing and landscaping.
History Summary
The site of the Drill Hall was used for military purposes from around 1885, and originally contained two
Orderly Rooms, which were damaged by fire in 1933 and demolished. From 1935 to 1939 there was a
dramatic increase in defence spending in response to the perceived threat of another war. As the Defence
Act did not allow for the existence of a regular army, all the major expenditure on accommodation in
Victoria was on the construction of a series of new, imposing, red brick drill halls to train the citizen army.
The existing Drill Hall complex was constructed between 1935 and 1936 and opened in 1936, for the
Australian Corps of Signals. The complex was designed by Commonwealth Architect George H. Hallandal,
overseen by Chief Architect Horace J. Mackennal and constructed by J. C. Corbett. The Drill Hall complex was
occupied by various units of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals until 1975. After this date, the buildings
continued to be occupied by various units of the Army until the mid-1990s. The Drill Hall complex has been
extended twice with the addition in 1960 of classrooms (since removed) to the garage buildings and minor
internal alterations in 1992-93 to the Drill Hall for the Australian Army Band. A plaque on the Administration
Building was presented in August 1995 by the Royal Australian Signals Association (Victoria). It states that
Australian Corps of Signals emblems of the interwar era remain in the building, to honour the many Signal
units of the Militia, 2nd AIF (Australian Imperial Force), ARA (Australian Regular Army), CMF (Citizens Military
Forces) and Army Reserve which used the site continuously until 1975. ‘The badges [emblems] also
commemorate the thousands of signal men and woman who served here, some of whom did not return
from active service.’ The complex comprises the only remaining military buildings dating from the Army
occupation of Albert Park during World War II.
Description Summary
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is made up of five discrete buildings – the
Administration Building and two flanking residences fronting Albert Road Drive South, the Drill Hall to the
rear (south) of the Administration Building, and the workshop/garages along the western boundary. The
Administration Building and residences have been constructed in polychromatic brick in the Stripped
Classical style. The Drill Hall has also been constructed in the Stripped Classical style but utilises plain red
brick. The workshop/garages is a long, unadorned utilitarian structure. The frontage to Albert Road Drive
South is highly symmetrical with the Administration Building and two residences linked by formal gardens,
low walls and decorative steel fences. With the exception of the workshop/garages, all buildings feature Art
Deco detailing in their highly intact interior spaces. The Administration Building and Drill Hall also retain
built-in furniture and several Royal Australian Signals Corps emblems (depicting the winged Roman
messenger god, Mercury) in relief. A mature memorial tree (Populus x canadensis 'Aurea') is located to the
rear (south) of the Drill Hall.
This site is part of the traditional land of the Kulin Nation.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 5
HOW IS IT SIGNIFICANT?
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is of historical and architectural significance to the
State of Victoria. It satisfies the following criteria for inclusion in the Victorian Heritage Register:
Criterion A
Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history.
Criterion D
Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.
WHY IS IT SIGNIFICANT?
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is significant at the State level for the following
reasons:
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is historically significant as evidence of the increase in
military preparedness and expenditure in Victoria in the years preceding World War II. The Drill Hall complex
was built in 1935-36 to train a citizen army as part of a plan to improve Australian defences during the
period of an increased threat of war. The Drill Hall complex was one of the first such complexes constructed
in Victoria during the interwar period. It is significant for having continuously served as a Drill Hall complex
for various Army units for approximately 60 years. [Criterion A]
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is architecturally significant as a fine and highly intact
example of an interwar Drill Hall complex. Designed in the Stripped Classical style with Art Deco influences,
the buildings and features that make up the Drill Hall complex are highly intact with interiors and exteriors
generally retaining all of their original features, decorative elements and finishes. The association with the
Signals Corps is illustrated in the original Signals Corp emblems and memorabilia retained on the exterior
and interior of the building. The setting retains a high level of integrity, comprising the original garden form,
and fence with pedestrian and vehicular gates to the front boundary. [Criterion D]
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is also significant for the following reasons, but not at
the State level:
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is significant for its association with Commonwealth
Architect George H. Hallandal, who designed the complex in the Stripped Classical style. Under employment
of the Commonwealth Department of Works, Hallandal designed the majority of the new red brick drill halls
in Victoria between 1935 and 1939.
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is significant for comprising the only remaining
military buildings dating from the Army occupation of Albert Park during World War II.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 6
RECOMMENDATION REASONS
REASONS FOR RECOMMENDING INCLUSION IN THE VICTORIAN HERITAGE REGISTER [s.34A(2)]
Following is the Executive Director's assessment of the place against the tests set out in The Victorian
Heritage Register Criteria and Thresholds Guidelines (2014).
CRITERION A
Importance to the course, or pattern, of Victoria’s cultural history.
STEP 1: A BASIC TEST FOR SATISFYING CRITERION A
The place/object has a CLEAR ASSOCIATION with an event, phase, period, process, function, movement,
custom or way of life in Victoria’s cultural history.
Plus
The association of the place/object to the event, phase, etc IS EVIDENT in the physical fabric of the
place/object and/or in documentary resources or oral history.
Plus
The EVENT, PHASE, etc is of HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE, having made a strong or influential contribution to
Victoria.
Executive Director’s Response
The Drill Hall complex is evidence of the increase in military preparedness and expenditure in Victoria in the
years preceding World War II. The complex was built in 1935-36 to train a citizen army as part of a plan to
improve Australian defences during the period of an increased threat of war.
Criterion A is likely to be satisfied.
STEP 2: A BASIC TEST FOR DETERMINING STATE LEVEL SIGNIFICANCE FOR CRITERION A
The place/object allows the clear association with the event, phase etc. of historical importance to be
UNDERSTOOD BETTER THAN MOST OTHER PLACES OR OBJECTS IN VICTORIA WITH SUBSTANTIALLY THE
SAME ASSOCIATION.
Executive Director’s Response
The Drill Hall complex was one of the first such complexes constructed in Victoria during the interwar period
in the face of an increased threat of war. The complex was occupied by the Royal Australian Corps of Signals
for approximately 40 years and by other Army units for a further 20 years. The long-standing association of
the site with the Army, along with its considerable level of intactness, means that this place can be
appreciated as an interwar Drill Hall complex better than most other examples in Victoria.
Criterion A is likely to be satisfied at the State level.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 7
CRITERION D
Importance in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a class of cultural places and objects.
STEP 1: A BASIC TEST FOR SATISFYING CRITERION D
The place/object is one of a CLASS of places/objects that has a clear ASSOCIATION with an event, phase,
period, process, function, movement, important person(s), custom or way of life in Victoria’s history.
Plus
The EVENT, PHASE, etc is of HISTORICAL IMPORTANCE, having made a strong or influential contribution to
Victoria.
Plus
The principal characteristics of the class are EVIDENT in the physical fabric of the place/object.
Executive Director’s Response
The Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall complex is made up of five discrete buildings – the
Administration Building; the Drill Hall with associated offices and other auxiliary spaces; two residences
flanking the vehicle driveways; and the workshop and garage building to the rear. The highly intact buildings
were designed in the Interwar Stripped Classical style by Commonwealth Architect George Hallandal and are
a fine example of an interwar Drill Hall complex.
Criterion D is likely to be satisfied.
STEP 2: A BASIC TEST FOR DETERMINING STATE LEVEL SIGNIFICANCE FOR CRITERION D
The place/object is a NOTABLE EXAMPLE of the class in Victoria (refer to Reference Tool D).
Executive Director’s Response
The extant structures that make up the Drill Hall complex are notable for being highly intact. The interiors
and exteriors of the Drill Hall complex generally retain all of their original features, decorative elements and
finishes. The form and original function of the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is evident in
the extant fabric and the historical uses of the interior spaces are demonstrated by their retained
decoration, furniture, finishes and signage. The association to the mainly citizen army from the interwar
period onwards, is clearly illustrated in the original Signals Corp emblems (depicting the winged Roman
messenger god, Mercury) and memorabilia retained on the exterior and interior of the building. These items
of Royal Australian Signals memorabilia no longer exist elsewhere. The setting retains a high level of
integrity, comprising the original garden layout, fence and pedestrian and vehicular gates to the front
boundary.
Criterion D is likely to be satisfied at the State level.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 8
PROPOSED PERMIT POLICY
Preamble
The purpose of the Permit Policy is to assist when considering or making decisions regarding works to a
registered place. It is recommended that any proposed works be discussed with an officer of Heritage
Victoria prior to making a permit application. Discussing proposed works will assist in answering questions
the owner may have and aid any decisions regarding works to the place.
The extent of registration of the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall in the Victorian
Heritage Register affects the whole place shown on Diagram 2362 including the land, all buildings, roads,
trees, landscape elements and other features. Under the Heritage Act 1995 a person must not remove or
demolish, damage or despoil, develop or alter or excavate, relocate or disturb the position of any part of a
registered place or object without approval. It is acknowledged, however, that alterations and other works
may be required to keep places and objects in good repair and adapt them for use into the future.
If a person wishes to undertake works or activities in relation to a registered place or registered object, they
must apply to the Executive Director, Heritage Victoria for a permit. The purpose of a permit is to enable
appropriate change to a place and to effectively manage adverse impacts on the cultural heritage
significance of a place as a consequence of change. If an owner is uncertain whether a heritage permit is
required, it is recommended that Heritage Victoria be contacted.
Permits are required for anything which alters the place or object, unless a permit exemption is granted.
Permit exemptions usually cover routine maintenance and upkeep issues faced by owners as well as minor
works or works to the elements of the place or object that are not significant. They may include appropriate
works that are specified in a conservation management plan. Permit exemptions can be granted at the time
of registration (under s.42 of the Heritage Act) or after registration (under s.66 of the Heritage Act).
It should be noted that the addition of new buildings to the registered place, as well as alterations to the
interior and exterior of existing buildings requires a permit, unless a specific permit exemption is granted.
Conservation management plans
It is recommended that a Conservation Management Plan is developed to manage the place in a manner
which respects its cultural heritage significance.
Aboriginal cultural heritage
If any Aboriginal cultural heritage is discovered or exposed at any time it is necessary to immediately contact
the Office of Aboriginal Affairs Victoria to ascertain requirements under the Aboriginal Heritage Act 2006.
Other approvals
Please be aware that approval from other authorities (such as local government) may be required to
undertake works.
Cultural heritage significance
Overview of significance
The cultural heritage significance of the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall lies in it being a
fine and highly intact example of an interwar Drill Hall complex. Designed in the Stripped Classical style with
Art Deco influences, the buildings and features that make up the Drill Hall complex are highly intact with
interiors and exteriors generally retaining all of their original features, decorative elements and finishes.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 9
All of the buildings and features listed here are of primary cultural heritage significance in the context of the
place. A permit is required for most works or alterations. See Permit Exemptions section for specific permit
exempt activities:
•
B1 Administration Building
•
B2 Drill Hall
•
B3 Former Residence (east)
•
B4 Former Residence (west)
•
B5 Workshop/garages
•
F1 Iron gates
•
F2 Front gardens
•
T1 Memorial Tree (Populus x canadensis 'Aurea')
Land: All of the land identified in Diagram 2362 is of primary cultural heritage significance.
PROPOSED PERMIT EXEMPTIONS (UNDER SECTION 42 OF THE
HERITAGE ACT)
It should be noted that Permit Exemptions can be granted at the time of registration (under s.42(4) of the
Heritage Act). Permit Exemptions can also be applied for and granted after registration (under s.66 of the
Heritage Act)
General Condition 1
All exempted alterations are to be planned and carried out in a manner which prevents damage to the fabric
of the registered place or object.
General Condition 2
Should it become apparent during further inspection or the carrying out of works that original or previously
hidden or inaccessible details of the place or object are revealed which relate to the significance of the place
or object, then the exemption covering such works shall cease and Heritage Victoria shall be notified as soon
as possible.
General Condition 3
All works should be informed by Conservation Management Plans prepared for the place. The Executive
Director is not bound by any Conservation Management Plan, and permits still must be obtained for works
suggested in any Conservation Management Plan.
General Condition 4
Nothing in this determination prevents the Heritage Council from amending or rescinding all or any of the
permit exemptions.
General Condition 5
Nothing in this determination exempts owners or their agents from the responsibility to seek relevant
planning or building permits from the relevant responsible authority, where applicable.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 10
Specific Permit Exemptions
LANDSCAPE
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
The process of gardening, including mowing, hedge clipping, bedding displays, removal of dead
shrubs and replanting the same species or cultivar, disease and weed control, and maintenance to
care for existing plants.
The removal or pruning of dead or dangerous trees to maintain safety. If the tree is identified as
being of primary or contributory cultural heritage significance, the Executive Director must be
notified of these works within 21 days of them being undertaken.
Replanting of removed or dead trees and vegetation with the same plant species to conserve the
significant landscape character and values.
Management of trees in accordance with Australian Standard; Pruning of Amenity Trees AS 43731996.
Management of trees in accordance with Australian Standard; Protection of Trees on Development
Sites AS 4970-2009.
Minor repairs and maintenance to hard landscape elements including roads, steps, paths, and
gutters.
Subsurface works involving the installation, removal or replacement of watering and drainage
systems or services outside the canopy edge of significant trees in accordance with AS4970 and on
the condition that works do not impact on archaeological features or deposits.
Removal of plants listed as noxious weeds in the Catchment and Land Protection Act 1994.
Vegetation protection and management of possums and vermin.
BUILDING EXTERIORS
•
•
•
•
•
Minor patching, repair and maintenance which replace like with like.
Removal of non-original items such as air conditioners, pipe work, ducting, wiring, antennae, aerials
etc and making good in a manner not detrimental to the cultural heritage significance of the place.
Repair and removal of non-original fences and gates in a manner not detrimental to the cultural
heritage significance of the place.
Installation or repair of damp-proofing by either injection method or grouted pocket method in a
manner which does not affect the cultural heritage significance of the place.
Painting of previously painted surfaces provided that preparation or painting does not remove the
original paint or other decorative scheme.
INTERIORS
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Painting of previously painted walls and ceilings provided that preparation or painting does not
remove any original paint or cover any decorative scheme.
Installation, removal or replacement of non-original carpets and/or flexible floor coverings.
Installation, removal or replacement of non-original curtain tracks, rods and blinds.
Installation, removal or replacement of non-original hooks, nails and other devices for the hanging of
mirrors, paintings and other wall mounted art.
Demolition or removal of non-original stud/partition walls, suspended ceilings or non-original wall
linings (including plasterboard, laminate and Masonite), non-original glazed screens, non-original
flush panel or part-glazed laminated doors, aluminium-framed windows, bathroom partitions and
tiling, sanitary fixtures and fittings, kitchen wall tiling and equipment, lights, cubicle partitions,
computer and office fitout and the like.
Removal of non-original door and window furniture including, hinges, locks, knobsets and sash lifts.
Removal of non-original glazing to internal timber-framed, double hung sash windows, and
replacement with clear or plain opaque glass.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 11
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Refurbishment of existing bathrooms, toilets and kitchens (excluding the original mess bars)
including removal, installation or replacement of sanitary fixtures and associated piping, mirrors,
wall and floor coverings.
Removal of non-original tiling or concrete slabs in wet areas provided there is no damage to or
alteration of original structure or fabric.
Installation, removal or replacement of ducted, hydronic or concealed radiant type heating provided
that the installation does not damage existing skirtings and architraves and that the central plant is
concealed, and is done in a manner not detrimental to the cultural heritage significance of the place.
Installation, removal or replacement of electrical wiring provided that all new wiring is fully
concealed and any original light switches, pull cords, push buttons or power outlets are retained insitu. Note: if wiring original to the place was carried in timber conduits then the conduits should
remain in situ.
Installation or replacement of electric clocks, public address systems, detectors, alarms, emergency
lights, exit signs, luminaires and the like on non-decorative plaster surfaces.
Installation, removal or replacement of bulk insulation in the roof space.
Installation of plant within the roof space.
MAINTENANCE AND SECURITY
•
•
Maintenance and replacement of plumbing and electrical services providing that the original
formation of the buildings remains unaltered, and does not have a detrimental impact on cultural
heritage significance.
General maintenance of buildings of primary heritage significance. Such maintenance includes the
removal of broken glass, the temporary shuttering of windows and covering of holes as long as this
work is reversible and does not have a detrimental impact on cultural heritage significance.
PUBLIC SAFETY AND SECURITY

The erection of temporary security fencing, scaffolding, hoardings or surveillance systems to prevent
unauthorised access or secure public safety which will not adversely affect significant fabric of the place
including archaeological features provided that temporary structures are removed within 30 days of
erection.
 Emergency building stabilisation (including propping) necessary to secure safety where a site feature has
been irreparably damaged or destabilised and represents a safety risk.
Note: Urgent or emergency site works are to be undertaken by an appropriately qualified specialist such as a
structural engineer, or other heritage professional.
SIGNAGE AND SITE INTERPRETATION

The erection of non-illuminated signage for the purpose of ensuring public safety or to assist in the
interpretation of the heritage significance of the place subject to signage not adversely affecting
significant fabric or obstructing views of the heritage place.
Note: Signage and site interpretation products must be located and be of a suitable size so as not to obscure
or damage significant fabric of the place, and signage and site interpretation products must be able to be
later removed without causing damage to the significant fabric of the place. The development of signage and
site interpretation products must be consistent in the use of format, text, logos, themes and other display
materials.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 12
RELEVANT INFORMATION
LOCAL GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY
City of Port Phillip
HERITAGE LISTING INFORMATION

Heritage Overlay:
HO446 - Albert Park Lake Precinct

Heritage Overlay Controls:
External Paint: Yes
Internal Alteration: No
Tree: No

Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Register:
No

Other listing:
Victorian War Heritage Inventory
THEMATIC CONTEXT
Signals Corps
The Royal Australian Corps of Signals is one of the senior corps or ‘combat support arms’ of the Australian
Army and is a vital component of its overall function and operation – often referred to as its ‘nerve system’ –
providing communication channels from the largest headquarters to the smallest units. The Signals Corps is
responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment and
information systems.
The Australian Corps of Signallers was formed in 1906, after the inception of the Commonwealth Forces.
Prior to this, signallers were grouped on a regimental basis and Telegraph Companies existed as part of the
Engineers Corps (Vazenry c1969:8.1-2). The Corps of Signallers originally consisted of nine companies, two of
which were located in Melbourne: Signals 3 Aust Infantry Division and Signals 4 Aust Infantry Division. The
Corps remained a self contained unit, except for a period between 1911 (with the introduction of Universal
Training) and 1921, when the unit again formed part of the Engineers Corps (Vazenry c1969:8.1-2).
The peace time period between 1925 and 1939 saw the development of signalling equipment, particularly
wireless equipment. During this period, the strength of the Signals Units was increased and training and
organisation implemented. When war was declared in 1939, the number of Australian Corps of Signals
personnel expanded to meet the urgent operational requirements and personnel were trained. The Signals
Corps soon totalled near 25,000 personnel in all ranks, including the Australian Women’s Army Service. In
1948, the Signals Corps was granted the prefix ‘Royal’, becoming the Royal Australia Corps of Signals.
Drill Halls
The term ‘Drill Hall’ is defined as a ‘meeting place of units of citizen forces in Victoria’ and these buildings
were commonly known as Orderly Rooms (1854-1901), Drill Halls (1901-1950) or Training Depots (1950present). Each Drill Hall was built specifically for the unit that was to occupy the building and functioned as
an indoor parade ground and activity area, often with administration offices and stores for arms and
ammunition to the perimeter. The permanent married quarters (PMQ’s) and messes were often part of the
site and design of the complexes (Miller 1994:18, as cited in Trethowan).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 13
PLACE HISTORY
In 1854, Melbourne became the new headquarters of the officer commanding Imperial troops in Australia
and later that year the Victorian Volunteer Artillery Regiment was formed. By 1864 an Emerald Hill Company
was in operation using the rifle range extending from Middle Park towards the beach. By 1884, the military
forces were reorganised to become a Department for Defence (Ward 2013). In 1885, a proposal was made
by the Defence Department to establish an Orderly Room in Albert Park and after much debate, the site of
the existing Royal Australian Corps of Signals building was chosen (Hanssen 2014:11). Prior to World War II,
the Albert Park complex served as a training depot housing artillery and infantry units (Vazenry c1969:8.1-2).
Maps dating to the late nineteenth and early twentieth century showed the location of the Orderly Room at
the site of the existing 1935 Drill Hall. The 1894 and 1895 Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works
(MMBW) detail plans indicate that two buildings, a ‘Gun room’ and ‘Orderly Room’ occupied the site facing
north-westerly. The lot matches the current cadastral boundaries, and was accessed off Park Drive (now
Albert Drive Road S). In 1917, the property was transferred from the State to the Federal Government (Daley
1940:224).
Between 1918 and 1935 there was a sharp decline in defence construction, but from 1935 to 1939 there was
a dramatic increase in defence spending in response to the perceived threat of another war. However, as the
Defence Act still did not allow for the existence of regular infantry, all the major expenditure on
accommodation in Victoria was on the construction of a series of new, imposing, red brick drill halls (VWHI).
On 5 January 1933, the timber drill hall at Albert Park was gutted by fire (Jess Report; Canberra Times 5 Jan
1933). An article in the Age in June 1935 reported that while the adjoining hall had been destroyed by the
fire in 1933, the first fire-damaged drill hall remained on the site and was ‘one of the oldest in Victoria’. At
this date, contractors were ‘examining the historic old drill hall’ which had been ‘standing in Albert Park
since 1902, with a view to tendering for the erection of a new brick signal depot’. Building was to commence
the following month. The Argus reported on 26 July 1935 that a new army signal depot was to be erected in
Albert Park, alongside the South Melbourne Cricket Ground, as part of a plan to improve Australian
defences. The depot was to be constructed by Essendon builder J. Corbett, for a total of 24,300 pounds. The
complex was to comprise a ‘new depot, adjoining drill hall for training purposes, residential quarters for the
staff sergeant-major, and office buildings for the staff’ as well as an officer’s mess, a sergeant’s mess and a
miniature rifle range. The new depot was to be used for training purposes, and to ‘form a club among the
signallers’, with the article inviting former Australian Imperial Force signallers to enlist when the new depot
was ready.
The existing Drill Hall complex was constructed between 1935 and 1936 and opened in 1936, to serve as a
Victorian Signals Training Depot for the Australian Corps of Signals in response to the perceived threat of
war. The complex was designed by Commonwealth Architect George H. Hallandal, overseen by Chief
Architect Horace J. Mackennal, and constructed by J. C. Corbett (Ward 2013). The Defence Department paid
the park staff to lay out and maintain the garden on the site (Barnard & Keating 1996:110). Hallandal
designed a majority of the new red brick drill halls in Victoria between 1935 and 1939. The Albert Park Drill
Hall complex was one of the first such complexes constructed for the Department of Defence in Victoria
during the interwar period.
The Signals Corps occupied the complex and was joined by Area Signals in 1939. Newspaper articles during
this period referred to the site as the Albert Park Signals Depot (Argus, 22 Jan 1938:2). During World War II
the Drill Hall Complex was the signals focal point with four supporting satellite signals stations located
throughout Melbourne. Military presence increased when the Defence Department took over a large portion
of Albert Park during World War II (Barnard & Keating 1996:109). The Department began annexing adjacent
land from 1941, taking over both cricket grounds, a bowling green and even the girls’ high school (where
three large cargo sheds were erected at the rear; which were adapted for sporting facilities after the war). In
1943, land in the park’s south-western corner was annexed for a full-scale military barracks, comprising rows
of prefabricated huts to serve as accommodation for Navy, Army and Air Force staff. Although intended to
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 14
be a temporary presence, most buildings would remain in Albert Park for over thirty years, until demolished
in the 1970s. Albert Park re-opened to the public after World War II and the sporting facilities of the park
expanded (Heritage Alliance 2008).
A 1941 drawing of the Drill Hall complex showed footprints of the Administration Building, Drill Hall with its
offices and stores, and the two residences. The 1941 footprints match what currently exists, which indicates
that the buildings that remain in 2016 are original in date (or built pre-1941). An early photo of the Drill Hall
complex dating between c.1940 and c.1944 shows the facade of the brick Administration Building as it
appears in 2016, but with the original colour scheme to the gates. The name ‘SIGNAL DEPOT’ in metal letters
was attached above the arched entrance (since removed). A 1943 photo of a side elevation of the Drill Hall
shows the side wings (offices and stores) with their original two-over-two timber sash windows (sashes since
replaced). Above were the multi-paned windows to the clerestory of the Drill Hall. Additional historic photos
dating to 1944, 1945 and 1964 show the original timber sash windows to the Drill Hall, as viewed from the
interior and exterior.
The Drill Hall complex was occupied by various units of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals until 1975 when
the Corps ceased to occupy the building (Barnard & Keating 1996:110). After this date, the buildings were
occupied in succession by 3OCTU, RCSC, the Melbourne Australian Army Band (in the 1990s) followed by the
Royal Australian Air Force Band (VWHI).
The Drill Hall complex has been extended twice with the addition of classrooms in 1960 to the garage
buildings and small internal alterations made in 1992-93 to the Drill Hall for the Australian Army Band. The
alterations to the interior of the hall comprised the installation of acoustic panels for the Australian Army
Band (which remain in 2016) and the removal of some walls in the office and store rooms to create larger
spaces. New glazing has been installed in the square format windows around the perimeter of the Drill Hall
(removing the original two-over-two sash windows with horizontal glazing bars). The roof of the Drill Hall
was re-clad in Colorbond and air conditioning units were installed on the roof of the side wings to the Drill
Hall. The Administration Building has new glass entrance doors to the interior and glass partitions to create
office spaces for its current use. The Rifle Range was demolished in 1993 (VWHI).
A plaque on the facade of the Administration Building was presented in August 1995 by the Royal Australian
Signals Association (Victoria). It states that Australian Corps of Signals emblems (depicting the winged
Roman messenger god, Mercury) from the interwar era remain in the building to honour the many Signal
units of the Militia, 2ns AIF, ARA, CMF and Army Reserve, which used the barracks continuously until 1975.
‘The badges [emblems] also commemorate the thousands of signal men and woman who served here, some
of whom did not return from active service.’ These items of Royal Australian Signals memorabilia no longer
exist elsewhere. The memorabilia includes the 1930 Corps emblem above the front entry arch, the Officers
Mess emblem above the fireplace, emblems in the Drill Hall cast into the brickwork at each end of the hall, a
1935 Time Capsule in the brickwork to the right of the front entry arch and a 1960 Time Capsule buried in
the brickwork in an unknown location in the building. A cast bronze ‘signal depot’ emblem above the main
entry arch was removed in 1993 and is housed in the Corps Museum (VWHI).
At the rear of the Drill Hall complex is the 15th INF Brigade Signals Section Memorial Tree and Plaque. The
15th Brigade was originally formed in World War I, and suffered extremely heavy losses in Bougainville
during the battle at Slater’s Knoll between April-May 1945. It has been reported that this brigade, part of the
3rd Division, sustained heavier losses than any other Australian brigade that took part in the campaign
(Digger History).
In 2016, the Drill Hall complex retains the Administration Building flanked by two permanent married
quarters (fronting Albert Drive Road South), the Drill Hall and the workshops/garages, all of which remain
from the original design and use. This complex comprises the only remaining military buildings dating from
Army occupation of Albert Park. In 2016 the Drill Hall complex was occupied by Parks Victoria and Orchestra
Victoria.
George H. Hallandal, architect
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 15
George Henry Hallandal (1901-c1997) was apprenticed to Haddon & Henderson for four years following
World War I, who specialised in completing design work for other architectural firms. Hallandal won the
RVIA Silver Medal in 1923 and joined the Commonwealth Department of Works (CDW) in Melbourne in
1923, before being posted to Canberra in 1926 as the resident architect for Parliament House (Goad
2012:311).
Between 1935 and 1939, Hallandal was the lead designer within the Victorian section of the Department of
the Interior Works Branch. He worked under Chief Architect Horace Mackennal and was responsible for the
design of many of the Drill Halls and defence buildings within Victoria, constructed during this period.
These included the drill halls in Victoria Street, Melbourne (1937), Albert Park (1935-36), Geelong (1939) and
Mildura (c1939). He also designed the Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot at 235-9 A’Beckett
Street, Melbourne (1938-9) which included two drill halls. They were all designed in ‘variations of beautifully
detailed brick and/or cement render in the classical Moderne style’ (Goad 2012:311).
Hallandal was interviewed by Allom Lovell & Associates (1990:57) as part of the assessment of the Former
Army Medical Corps Drill Hall, Melbourne. The report states that Hallandal claimed to be the sole designer of
the Drill Halls as the Commonwealth Architect (from 1923). He said that the A’Beckett Street hall was his
own style and that the Victoria Street Hall was quite different. Hallandal ‘did not like the Moderne and
streamlined style, preferring instead to put his own style into his buildings’. He stated that he was very
influenced by two American architects – Paul Cret (1876-1945) and Bertram Goodhue (1867-1924). Hallandal
stated that he liked to ‘design a building completely, preferring to detail everything’ (Lovell & Associates
1990). By 1949, Hallandal became principal architect within the CDW where he remained until his retirement
in 1966 (Goad 2012:311).
CONSTRUCTION DETAILS
Architect name:
George H. Hallandal
Architectural style name:
Interwar Stripped Classical
Builder name:
J. C. Corbett
Construction started date:
1935
Construction ended date:
1936
VICTORIAN HISTORICAL THEMES
07
Governing Victorians
7.4
Defending Victoria and Australia
PHYSICAL DESCRIPTION
The Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is made up of five extant buildings – the Administration
Building and Drill Hall with associated offices and other auxiliary spaces; two residences flanking the vehicle
driveways; and the workshop/garages building to the west of the site.
Administration Building
The Administration Building fronts onto Albert Road Drive South and is highly symmetrical with a prominent
entrance portico providing access to a three bay trabeated arcade on either side. The arcade is flanked by
domestic-scale elements housing the messes and offices, which visually terminate with tall brick chimneys.
Constructed of polychromatic (red, brown and buff coloured) brick, the building has a hipped tiled roof
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 16
behind low parapets with photovoltaic solar panels more recently introduced on its north face. The roof of
the entrance portico is pyramidal and is surmounted by a flagpole. The building is Stripped Classical in style
with Art Deco influenced decoration in horizontal banding. Mannered Classical details include arched
openings to the portico and gardens with prominent projected keystones and quoins. The trabeated templelike stone structure in the portico features simplified classical detailing and Egyptian influenced columns. The
emblem of the Royal Australian Corps of Signals (depicting the winged Roman messenger god, Mercury)
surmounts this freestanding structure. This building retains its original fenestration with timber multi-paned
sliding sash windows. The original lantern light fittings either side of the entrance portico remain.
Administration Building (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 17
Entrance to Administration Building (May 2016)
Arcade of Administration Building (May 2016)
Drill Hall
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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The Drill Hall is linked to the Administration Building by an enclosed walkway flanked by two small service
yards. There are single-storey storage and ancillary spaces surrounding the Drill Hall on three sides. The Drill
Hall and ancillary wings are constructed externally of red brick with simple detailing that retains the
expressed quoins and two arched entrances at the rear. The hipped roof of the Drill Hall sits above a
clerestory and is clad in corrugated steel. The ancillary rooms to the east and west have low pitched
corrugated steel roofs behind brick parapets. The rear (south) elevation of the Drill Hall is symmetrical with
arched openings for the two doors with flagpoles above. There is a stone planter or fountain with Art Deco
relief decoration below in the centre of the rear wall. The square format windows to the ancillary spaces
have been replaced with large single fixed panes of glass. A loading dock has been created in the west side of
the drill hall with a non-contributory metal canopy.
Rear (south) elevation of the Drill Hall (May 2016)
West elevation of the Drill Hall (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Rear (south) and east elevation of the Drill Hall (May 2016)
Residences
The two residences are single storey and are the mirror image of each other. Their front facades and side
walls up to the vehicle gates continue the same polychromatic brickwork and similar architectural language
as the Administration Building, including the strong horizontal banding, expressed quoins and parapet. The
roofs are tiled and the windows in the front façade are multi-paned timber sash windows. Beyond the gates
the residences revert to standard modest brick dwellings typical of the interwar period with one-over-one
sash windows and projecting eaves. The ends of the front façade of each dwelling terminate with
polychromatic brick chimneys.
East residence (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 20
Rear of east residence (May 2016)
West residence (May 2016)
Workshop / garage
The workshop and vehicle garage is a single storey utilitarian structure constructed of brick with a
corrugated steel roof. The structure has 10 steel roller doors in reinforced concrete frames with workshop
and storage rooms at either end of the structure. Joinery is simple timber doors and timber framed sash
windows.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Workshop/garages building (May 2016)
OBJECTS AND INTERIORS
Administration Building
The Administration Building contains two former messes and adjacent bars, offices, meeting rooms and
toilets. Ceilings are sheet plaster with simple cornice moulding in corridors and elaborate stepped Art Deco
cornices and mouldings in the mess halls and entrance foyer. There are large original skylights illuminating
the toilet anterooms. Walls are painted solid plaster to exterior walls and painted concrete block on interior
walls. Lightweight timber partitions are evident in the toilet areas. Twentieth century glazed office partitions
create a reception area in the western mess hall and internally separate a room into two office spaces. The
walls to the mess halls and bars have dark varnished timber panelling to door lintel height and retain
upholstered timber bench and window seats. The western mess hall has an Art Deco plaster fireplace
surround with the emblem of the Signals Corp in relief and timber panelling above. The foyer and offices
retain their original built-in storage units and benches. The timber lined bars retain their bar furniture and
upholstered timber bench seats. Gold lettering on a wall-mounted board in the Non-Commissioned Officer’s
bar lists committee office holders. The floor is covered with vinyl in wet areas. Internal joinery is dark
varnished timber with decorative etched glass in an Art Deco pattern to the mess hall doors. Some doors
retain applied gold lettering. Lighting is provided by late twentieth century fluorescent strip fittings and
ceiling mounted heating and air-conditioning grilles are present throughout the building.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Administration Building – Officer’s Mess (May 2016)
Administration Building – timber window seating and fireplace detail (May 2016)
Administration Building – bar (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Administration Building – office (May 2016)
Drill Hall
The Drill Hall is a large, single volume hall with ancillary rooms to each side and toilets and a kitchen to the
rear (south), which have more recently been refurbished. The Drill Hall has a stepped Art Deco plaster ceiling
with an elaborately decorated ventilation grille running the length of the hall. The walls are brown brick to
door lintel height with fabric acoustic panels inserted above (reflecting its musical use). Brown brick pilasters
terminating in plaster capitals decorated with a wave pattern separate each bay. Either end of the Drill Hall
terminates with a stepped brown brick element extending from floor to ceiling with the emblem of the
Signals Corp fixed at high level. Flooring is exposed timber boards with a carpeted margin around the edge.
Clerestory windows are varnished timber, as are the doors to the ancillary rooms. The entrance to the link to
the Administration Building has been replaced with frameless glass doors. Modern high-bay discharge lights
provide lighting. The ancillary spaces have plasterboard or acoustic panel ceilings with plaster walls,
carpeted floors and painted joinery. Some of these rooms have had intermediate walls removed to create
larger spaces. Where this has occurred small wall nibs and beams supporting the roof remain. Lighting is
provided by late twentieth century fluorescent strip fittings and ceiling mounted heating and airconditioning grilles are present. A bronze plaque dating from August 1995 is fixed to the wall
commemorating the Australian Corps of Signals.
Drill Hall interior (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Drill Hall – entrance detail (May 2016)
Drill Hall – ancillary space (eastern wing) (May 2016)
Residences
The two former residences have modest, domestic-scale interiors. Ceilings are sheet plaster with plaster ribs
separating the panels and a plaster dentil cornice. The walls are plaster on masonry with painted timber
picture rails at lintel height. Floors are carpeted with vinyl in wet areas. The former living rooms have
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 25
painted brick fire surrounds with tapered plaster chimneybreasts above. The fireplaces have been blocked
in. Interior joinery is painted timber and original door furniture has generally been retained. Each former
residence has a standard domestic kitchen that has been refurbished in the late twentieth century. Lighting
is a mix of late twentieth century commercial fittings and wall heaters have been installed.
Residence – interior (May 2016)
Residence – interior (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Residence – hall and kitchen (May 2016)
Workshop / garages
The interior spaces of the workshops and garages are unadorned and functional with exposed timber
trusses, painted brick walls, later lightweight petitions and a concrete floor.
Workshop / garage interior (May 2016)
LANDSCAPES, TREES & GARDENS
A low brick wall links the three buildings along Albert Road Drive South. Between the wall and the buildings
are small formal gardens with box hedges and immature trees. The decorative steel entrance gates to the
dwellings and driveways remain and feature Art Deco and zoomorphic decorative motifs.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Front garden – outside Administration Building (May 2016)
Front garden – outside west residence (May 2016)
Driveway gate (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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Gate detail – western residence (May 2016)
A mature Populus x canadensis 'Aurea' is located to the rear (south) of the Drill Hall which has a small
engraved metal plaque underneath dedicating the tree to the 15th Australian Infantry Brigade Signal
Section.
Populus x canadensis 'Aurea' (May 2016)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 29
Plaque at base of Memorial Tree (May 2016)
INTEGRITY/INTACTNESS
Intactness – The extant structures that make up the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall are
highly intact with interiors and exteriors generally retaining all of their original features, decorative elements
and finishes. Built-in furniture, Signals emblems and interior joinery including door furniture remains intact.
As well as the Signal Corps emblems, the Administration Building and Drill Hall also hold a number of gold
lettered signs and notice boards dating from the original use of the complex. The metal lettering in a 1930s
san serif typeface reading ‘SIGNAL DEPOT’ on the frieze of the entrance portico has been removed.
Later alterations such as the insertion of office petitions, acoustic panelling and new ceilings to the ancillary
rooms off the Drill Hall are readily reversible. Windows to the ancillary rooms at the sides of the Drill Hall
have been replaced within the original openings. Building services including lighting, heating and cooling
have been renewed in recent years and original fittings have been removed. The original exterior lighting at
the entrance portico is intact.
The gardens fronting Albert Road Drive South retain their original form, and the low walls and gates are
intact. (April 2016)
Integrity – The form and original function of the Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is evident
in the extant fabric. The historical uses of the interior spaces are demonstrated by their retained decoration,
furniture, finishes and signage. While some workshops/stores have been lost to the east of the site, the key
buildings of the complex remain and the place has a high degree of integrity (April 2016).
CONDITION
The exterior of the place is in good condition and has generally been well maintained. The interior
decorative features, joinery, built in furniture, Signals Corps emblems and interior signage are in excellent
condition (April 2016).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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COMPARISONS
This comparative analysis draws on information provided by Trethowan’s ‘Albert Park Signal Depot Heritage
Advice’ 2016.
Background
The term ‘Drill Hall’ indicates a ‘meeting place of units of citizen forces in Victoria’ and these buildings were
commonly known as Orderly Rooms (1854-1901), Drill Halls (1901-1950) or Training Depots (1950-present).
Each drill hall was built specifically for the unit that was to occupy the building and often comprised
administration offices and stores. The permanent married quarters (PMQ’s) and mess halls were often part
of the siting and design of the complexes and add to the understanding of the use of the site.
The Commonwealth Department of Works (CDW) were responsible for the design of drill halls and
complexes in Victoria. The CDW was first created at Federation in 1901 and was located in Melbourne as the
Works and Services Branch of the Department of Home Affairs. In 1916, it became a Department in its own
right, and was known as the Department of Works and Railways. The Department was transferred to
Canberra from Melbourne in 1929, an event that was closely followed by a reorganisation of the public
service. This created the Works and Services Branch, under the Department of the Interior from 1932. The
CDW remained as a branch of the Department of Interior until 1945, when it became the Department of
Works and Housing, and later the Department of Works (1952). It no longer exists today.
The location of the CDW in Melbourne until 1929 highlights an important historic connection between the
history of defence in Australia and defence buildings in Victoria, and their significance. Melbourne’s history
as a defence centre falls into three main periods; from the first British settlement until the withdrawal of
imperial troops in 1870; from 1871 until Federation and the creation of the Australian Commonwealth in
1901; and the era of Federal defence responsibility and the nation’s defence headquarters until 1961. Of
particular interest in terms of the subject site is the latter period.
Despite the seat of Commonwealth Government being moved to Canberra in 1927, the Department of
Defence remained in Melbourne; stationed at the Victoria Barracks, until 1961. From the Barracks, the
Defence Department administered the recruitment, formation and dispatch of military units in both World
Wars, ran the War Cabinet from the War Room from September 1939 and the Advisory War Council from
1940. The importance of Melbourne as a defence centre was accelerated when the Pacific War started in
December 1941, and remained critical even as the danger of Japanese invasion receded in 1943. Melbourne
was also of critical importance to the Defence Department due to the city’s production of war materials, its
harbour and docks and its overall importance as the centre of defence policy formulation and defence
administration in Australia. Post World War II, the Department of Defence began relocating to Canberra with
the transfer completed by 1961.
In terms of the interwar period and the increase of defence spending that occurred between 1935-39, there
were two key architects within the CDW of note; Horace J. Mackennal and George H. Hallandal, for their
involvement with the CDW and responsibility for designing the comparative buildings within the period.
Horace J. Mackennal joined the CDW in 1902, and was appointed Chief Architect of the Department and
Director of Works in Victoria in 1914. He held this position until his retirement in 1939. It is noted that
Mackennal was responsible for a number of buildings in his own right during the early part of his career in
the CDW, including the Windsor Post Office and Telephone Exchange (1908) and the South Melbourne Post
Office (1912). By the 1930s, he was responsible for and oversaw the completion of much of the defence
works in Victoria, including many of George Hallandal’s designs for defence buildings.
George Hallandal joined the CDW in Melbourne in 1923, before being posted to Canberra in 1926 as the
resident architect for Parliament House. Between 1935 and1939, Hallandal was the lead designer within the
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 31
Victorian Section of the Works Branch, under the Department of the Interior. He worked under Chief
Architect Horace Mackennal and was responsible for the design of many of the drill halls and defence
buildings within Victoria, constructed during this period. By 1949, Hallandal became principal architect
within the CDW where he remained until his retirement in 1966. Drill halls designed by Hallandal include
halls in Victoria Street, Melbourne (1937), Albert Park (1935-36), Geelong (1939) and Mildura (1937). He also
designed the Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot at 235-9 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne (1938-9)
which included two drill halls. They were all designed in ‘variations of beautifully detailed brick and/or
cement render in the classical Moderne style’ (Goad 2012:311).
Comparative Analysis
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall (1935-36) is a brick complex designed by
Commonwealth Architect George Hallandal, that includes an Administration Building, a Drill Hall with wings
that comprises offices and stores, and two permanent married quarters (PMQs). The buildings retain a
number of Signal Corps emblems and memorabilia illustrating its occupancy. The complex also retains an
original brick garage/workshop. The Drill Hall complex retains a high level of integrity and intactness and is in
very good condition.
The Victorian Heritage Register (VHR) contains Orderly Rooms (later called Drill Halls) and Drill Halls dating
mainly to the nineteenth century, with some twentieth century examples. The following is a list of Orderly
Rooms and Drill Halls currently listed on the VHR:
Victorian colonial period (1854-1901):
Buildings during this period were typically constructed of timber and corrugated iron.
-
-
East Collingwood Rifles Volunteer Orderly Room, 172-188 Powlett Street, East Melbourne (1864, 1885,
1937) – timber orderly room, with additions in 1885 and a brick Moderne addition in 1937. Residential
quarters demolished (VHR H18081)
Orderly Room, Bendigo Art Gallery, 42 View Street, Bendigo (1867) – brick hall with later additions (VHR
H1172)
Richmond Rifles Volunteer Orderly Room, 24 Gipps Street Richmond (1867, 1891) – a timber hall (VHR
H1362)
Orderly Room And Residence, Kepler Street, Warrnambool (1868, 1880s) – masonry building designed
by Shire Engineer A. Kerr (VHR H0543)
Ranger Barracks, 1-61 Curtis Street, Ballarat (1885) – Queen Anne timber hall designed by architect
Samuel Bindlay of the Victorian Public Works Department (VHR H1949)
Drill Hall and Gun Shed, 26 Bentinck Street, Portland (1887) - large timber hall and gun shed, designed
by architect Samuel Bindlay (VHR H2245)
Drill Hall, 23A Lyttleton Street, Castlemaine (1888-89) - a timber hall designed by architect Samuel
Bindlay (VHR H0683).
Pre-WWI Commonwealth period (1901 – 1914):
- Naval Drill Hall and Former Post Office, 40 Bay Street Port Melbourne (1912) – designed by CDW
architect J. S. Murdoch. The brick hall reflects the Edwardian Free Classical style. One of the first major
buildings constructed for the newly formed Royal Australian Navy (VHR H1378)
- Warragul Drill Hall, 40 Alfred Street, Warragul (1912-13) – the first of about forty timber and iron drill
halls built in Victoria between 1912 and 1916 and the prototype for all of this type built in Australia
during this period following the introduction of compulsory universal military training in 1911. Probably
designed by Commonwealth architect John Smith Murdoch (VHR H0600)
Interwar Commonwealth period (c1935-1939):
Between 1918 and 1935 there was a sharp decline in Defence construction, but from 1935 to 1939 there was
a dramatic increase in Defence spending due to the preceived threat of war. All the major expenditure on
accommodation in Victoria was on the construction of a series of new, imposing, red brick drill halls.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 32
The drill halls of this period are the most comparable examples to the subject site, as they are purpose-built
drill halls and complexes constructed of brick, have a construction date of 1935 onwards, and were designed
by the Commonwealth Department of Works, and specifically architect George Hallandal.
Drill halls of this period listed on the VHR:
- Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall, 49-53 Victoria Street, Melbourne (1937) – brick hall designed by
Commonwealth Architect George Hallandal (VHR H0285)
- Former Royal Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne (1938) brick hall designed by George Hallandal (VHR H0717)
Known comparable drill halls of this period protected at a local level on the Heritage Overlay (HO):
- Drill Hall Complex, George Street, Fitzroy (1936) – large brick drill hall, within HO334 South Fitzroy
Precinct
- Drill Hall, 40-50 Queens Parade, Traralgon (1939) - timber drill hall, individual Heritage Overlay HO130
Comparable drill halls from this period that have been demolished:
- Royal Australian Army Service Corps Drill Hall, 220 Sturt Street, South Melbourne – 1930s brick drill hall
- Drill Hall, Batman Avenue, Melbourne – 1930s brick drill hall
- Drill Hall, Swan Street, Melbourne – 1930s brick drill hall.
1930s brick halls that remain, unprotected as Commonwealth-owned:
Mildura Drill Hall (Kairiru Barracks), 186 San Mateo Avenue, Mildura (1937) – brick drill hall designed by
George Hallandal
Army Drill Hall, Bellerine Street (cnr Little Myers St), Geelong - 1930s brick drill hall designed by
architect George Hallandal
Below is an analysis of the most comparable buildings to the Albert Park Signal Corps Hall and Residences
(1935-36).
Comparable places listed on the Victorian Heritage Register
Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall, 49-53 Victoria Street, Melbourne (VHR H0285)
The Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall was built for the Regiment in 1937 to designs prepared by
Commonwealth architect George H. Hallandal. It is architecturally significant at a state level as an
outstanding and highly detailed example of Moderne architecture, and of historical significance as one of the
most intact of the red brick drill halls designed by the Works Branch of the Commonwealth Department of
the Interior in the 1935-1939 period.
The statement of significance notes that the Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall includes offices, mess
rooms, lecture rooms, stores, a basement firing range and a caretaker’s flat. The building is a large structure,
partly two-storey, on a triangular city edge site. The exterior is predominantly of red brick, with banding of
cream brick. The main east elevation is dominated by a portico of rendered aerofoil profiled piers within a
rectangular frame. Details such as exterior ventilator grills, tall narrow steel framed windows and a stepped
plan form add to the building's architectural character. The interior detailing features varnished timber
panelling and trims, and decorative plaster mouldings. A recurring ornamental element, internally and
externally, are wrought iron screens with a common decorative motif. The eastern (front) portion of the
building includes facilities for the higher ranks, including the officers' mess on the first floor which features a
high coved and ribbed ceiling, an inglenook fireplace area, and a built-in bar. The ground floor features
offices, the sergeants' mess and various utility spaces. The rear (western) portion of the building includes the
drill hall itself which features a stepped decorative Moderne detailed plaster ceiling, brick pilasters with
fluted capitals and a prominent band gallery that overlooks the hall. The interior of the Royal Australian
Corps of Signals Drill Hall is directly comparable in its retention of the timber panelling and trim, decorative
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 33
plaster mouldings (particularly to the ceilings), and in its retention of the in-built cupboards, bars and seats
to the Administration Building, which is highly intact.
Architecturally, the two examples are similar as brick buildings that feature high quality detailing, and display
two different approaches to drill hall design by Hallandal. The Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall differs
stylistically, with a Moderne treatment. The main elevation is particularly striking and features a high degree
of architectural pretension. While the two buildings differ stylistically, they both equally display Hallandal’s
high quality detailing and decoration.
It should be noted that since its registration, the Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall has been subject to
development at the rear and above the site, including a 59-unit social housing development within an eightstorey tower. The Drill Hall and the eastern offices / spaces remain intact. However, the band room, wagon
shed and some other ancillary spaces have been lost and the broader setting of the heritage place has been
somewhat compromised in comparison to the Corps of Signals Drill Hall.
Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall (May 2016)
Royal Melbourne Regiment Drill Hall (at time of registration, 2007)
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 34
Former Royal Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot, 239 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne (VHR
H0717)
The Former Royal Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot was constructed in 1938 to a design by
George H. Hallandal of the Commonwealth Department of Works. The main body of the building is a low red
and cream brick structure extending along A'Beckett Street. The William Street corner is marked by a
classically-influenced three-storey section of red brick with rendered pilasters extending two floors to a
gorge cornice. It is of architectural significance as an excellent example of an interwar period military
building. The Depot combines several stylistic influences, with Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Classical and
Moderne elements. It is also of historical significance at a state level.
Architecturally, the Depot and the Corps of Signals Drill Hall are comparable as they are both brick buildings,
built at a similar time, which feature similarly high quality detailing. The Depot differs to the Corps of Signals
Drill Hall stylistically, as it incorporates Colonial Revival, Art Deco, Classical and Moderne elements. The
Depot features red brick and rendered details, metal windows, modelled brickwork banding and fluted
pilasters. Whilst similar to the subject site, the Depot is larger in scale and more monumental as a result.
However, both complexes display the high quality design and detailing that hallmarks Hallandal’s work
during the interwar period.
In terms of use, the Depot differs from the Corps of Signals Drill Hall with the two drill halls, classrooms and
offices being contained within a single, large building, rather than being separated into various built forms
and forming a complex of buildings.
Former Royal Australian Army Medical Corps Training Depot (Credit: Victorian Heritage Database)
Comparable places protected at a local level by a Heritage Overlay
Drill Hall Complex, 16-26 George Street, Fitzroy (HO334)
The former Drill Hall Complex was built in 1936 for the Commonwealth of Australia Defence Department and
has historical associations with persons such as those who served in the Australian Infantry 29/22 Battalion.
It is significant as a monumental and significant Moderne style clinker and red brick drill hall, in the manner
of other significant pre World War II drill hall designs in A'Beckett St and Victoria St, Melbourne, designed by
Hallandal under Chief Architect Horace J Mackennal. The building is identified as being individually significant
building within the South Fitzroy Precinct (HO334) under the Yarra Planning Scheme:
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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This robustly detailed Inter War clinker and red brick building is ... quite a well detailed building ... The building
was formerly a hall, though it has recently been sympathetically converted to multi residential use. The
building incorporates single storey pavilions flanking the front entry with rusticated banding, corbelled soldier
course parapet capping and multi paned metal framed windows. The hall itself is a simple gable ended
structure employing red and clinker brick in combination. There is a dwarf brick fence along the street
frontage. (Wight 2001)
The Fitzroy Drill Hall is comparable as a complex of a similar size and date to the Corps of Signals Drill Hall. It
presents as a much less architecturally pretentious hall than the Corps of Signals Drill Hall and is understood
to have been heavily altered internally.
Historically, the Fitzroy Drill Hall is linked to the 29/22 Battalion. It is noted that there appears to be no
indication of this link in the built form, which compared to the overt references to the Signals Corps and the
purpose-built nature of the subject site, lessens the Fitzroy Drill Hall’s significance. Comparatively, the Corps
of Signals Drill Hall has a greater level of architectural merit, extremely high level of intactness and integrity
and more tangible historic associations to the military group than the Fitzroy Drill Hall Complex.
Drill Hall Complex, Fitzroy (Credit: Victorian Heritage Database)
Comparable places not protected
Mildura Drill Hall (Kairiru Barracks), 186 San Mateo Avenue, Mildura (Commonwealth-owned)
Note: Places that are owned by the Commonwealth cannot be included in the Victorian Heritage Register or a Heritage Overlay as
they are not subject to state planning or heritage legislation.
The Mildura Drill Hall within the Kairiru Barracks was designed by Hallandal and constructed in the 1930s for
the 8/7 Royal Victorian Regiment. The Mildura Drill Hall complex is comparable to the Corps of Signals Drill
Hall in its symmetrical facade, large central portico and arched entrance, flanked by lower domestic scale
sections which most likely also served an administration function. To the rear is the larger-scaled drill hall.
The Mildura Drill Hall was designed by Hallandal with patterned brickwork to the central portico and a
banded rusticated render to the bottom third of the exterior walls. The complex retains some overt
references to the Regiment on the facade.
Comparatively, the Corps of Signals Drill Hall has an equal level of architectural merit, extremely high level of
intactness and integrity and equal tangible historic associations to the military group, in comparison to the
Mildura Drill Hall Complex.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 36
Mildura Drill Hall (Credit: Google Streetview, accessed May 2016)
Summary
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall belongs to a typology of purpose-built brick drill halls
and complexes designed and built by the Commonwealth Department of Works. Interwar period drill halls
are somewhat underrepresented on the Victorian Heritage Register, with only two places listed of the 9
known to be purpose-built in Victoria during this period.
It is one of the first brick drill hall complexes constructed for the Department of Defence in Victoria during
this period of military preparedness, between 1935 and 1939, which was the first phase of construction for
the Department following World War I.
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall complex has a lesser degree of architectural
pretension than the drill halls in the CBD, primarily due to the more modest scale of its buildings; however,
the Corps of Signals Drill Hall buildings are more intact in comparison, retaining their original extent and
form, as well as their high quality detailing, decoration and finishes to both the exterior and interior, as
designed by Hallandal. The Corps of Signal Drill Hall retains its historic links to the Signals Corps as evident in
the number of remaining Corps emblems and memorabilia, which the comparative examples appear to lack.
The interior is comparable to those listed on the VHR, retaining the original timber panelling and trims,
decorative plaster mouldings (particularly to the ceilings), the bars to the mess rooms and seats in the
Administration Building.
KEY REFERENCES USED TO PREPARE ASSESSMENT
Allom Lovell & Associates (1990) ‘Former Army Medical Corps Drill Hall, 249 A’Beckett Street, Melbourne, An
assessment of the architectural and historical significance’, prepared for Oak Pty Ltd.
Australian Corps of Signals (ACS) (1944), Signals: story of the Australian Corps of Signals.
Australian War Memorial (AWM) picture collection, image numbers as cited.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 37
Barnard, Jill & Jenny Keating (1996), People's playground : a history of the Albert Park, Burwood [Vic].
Daley, Charles (1940), The history of South Melbourne : from the foundation of settlement at Port Phillip to
the year 1938, Melbourne, prepared for the City of South Melbourne.
Department of Land and Survey (1945), Photo-Map Melbourne B4B, Zone 7, accessed via University of
Melbourne archives, <http://www.lib.unimelb.edu.au/>, April 2016.
Digger History, ‘To the Bitter End on Bougainville’, <http://www.diggerhistory.info/>, accessed 12 May 2016.
As cited in Trethowan 2016.
Goad, Philip (2012), ‘George Hallandal’ in Philip Goad & Julie Willis’ (Eds.) The Encyclopedia of Australian
Architecture, Port Melbourne.
Hanssen Partnership Pty Ltd (2014), ‘Albert Park Master Plan Background Report, Stage 1’, prepared for
Parks Victoria.
Heritage Alliance (2008), Citation for ‘Albert Park Lake Precinct’ in the City of Port Phillip: Review of Heritage
Area HO3.
Jess, Lieutenant General Sir Carl (1929-1939), ‘Report on the activities of the Australian Military Forces 19291939)’, accessed at <http://www.army.gov.au/>, April 2016.
Melbourne and Metropolitan Board of Works (MMBW) detail plan nos. 21 (1894); 635 & 636 (1895).
Miller, Patrick, A Thematic History of Defence in Victoria, 1994.
National Archives of Australia (NAA), Series B985, V/1/183, Albert Park Signal Depot - Serial 1254.
State Library of Victoria (SLV), picture collection, image numbers as cited.
The Age
The Argus
The Canberra Times
Trethowan (March 2016), ‘Albert Park Signal Depot Heritage Advice’, prepared for Greypuksand.
Vazenry, G. R. (c1969), Military Forces of Victoria 1854-1967.
Ward, Andrew (2013), Citation No. 2152 ‘Army Training Depot’ in the City of Port Phillip Heritage Review.
Victorian War Heritage Inventory (VWHI), Citation for ‘Albert Park Signal Depot’. This document formed the
original nomination for inclusion on the former Historic Buildings Register in 1987.
PROPOSED TEXT FOR THE BLUE HERITAGE PLAQUE
The Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall is an impressive example of the Stripped Classical
architectural style. It was built in 1936 to strengthen Australia’s defence forces in response to the impending
threat of war, and used as a training facility for around 60 years.
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 38
ADDITIONAL IMAGES / MAPS
Image 1. The first buildings on the site, the Orderly Room and Gun Room (1880s), as shown on the 1895 MMBW detail plan no. 635.
The site matched the current cadastral boundaries, and was accessed off what was then called Park Drive (current Albert Drive Road
South) (MMBW No. 635, 1891).
Image 2. Drawing of the Signals Depot complex in 1941. The footprints of the Administration Building, Drill Hall and Residences
match the buildings that currently exist (NAA, V/1/183).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 39
Image 3. An early photo of the Depot, dating between c1940 and c1944, that showed the facade of the brick Administration Building
as it appears in 2016. The original colour scheme to the gates was evident and the name ‘SIGNAL DEPOT’ in metal letters was
attached above the arched entrance (since removed) (SLV, Image No. H98.1053348).
Image 4. A 1943 photo of a side elevation of the Drill Hall showing the side wings (offices and stores) with their original two-over-two
timber sash windows (sashes since replaced). Above were the multi-paned windows to the clerestory of the Drill Hall (AWM, No.
060946).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 40
Image 5. A 1943 photo of the bar in the Officers’ Mess, which remains in the Administration Building (AWM, No. 060945).
Image 6. The Australian Women’s Army Service mechanics working at the garage in December 1943 (AWM, No. 060917).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 41
Image 7. A photo dating to May 1944 that shows Lieutenant C.E. Mountjoy at the Master-General of the Ordnance Branch, Albert
Park. The photo shows the interior of the original windows (AWM, No. 066275).
Image 8. The interior of the offices at Albert Park, showing the original sash windows in a photo dating to September 1945 (AWM,
No. 100825).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
Page | 42
Image 9. A photo dating to 1964, showing the south end of the Drill Hall and its original windows. The buildings to the rear of the site
have since been demolished (NAA, No. B6295, 1027A).
Name: Former Royal Australian Corps of Signals Drill Hall
Hermes Number: 2189
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