The first stage of restoration works to preserve the 145-year-old Glenelg Town Hall are nearing completion, with the newly-refurbished clock faces, lead roof and working weather vane to soon be unveiled.
Behind the scaffolding and scrim, tradesmen have hand-carved the ornate stonework around the top of the clock tower and southern façade as part of the painstaking restoration works which aim to bring the building back to its former glory.
Stage two works are imminent and will restore part of the western façade of the building and the balcony which overlooks the foreshore playground.
Stage one conservation works began in October last year, but only when the existing paintwork was removed, did the extent of damage on the clock tower become evident.
The clock tower was added to the building in the late 1880s and suffered extensive moisture damage from exposure to the coastal environment. As a result, almost 70 per cent of the mortar and render around the stonework needed to be rebuilt or repaired.
Up to six stonemasons worked for months, hand-carving the ornate detailing around the clock faces. The finishing touches will happen in the coming week, with 1-metre high pinnacles to be installed on all four sides of the tower.
A specialist heritage roofer spent almost five months working on the lead-covered cupola, which is the curved section of the roof structure. The lead wrap-around was replaced completely, ornate detailing added, new vents installed and the existing weather vane was repaired so it once again spins.
All four clock faces were removed and recast, with new glass installed and a new mounting system to keep them securely in place. Spanning 1.6 metres in diameter, clock enthusiasts will also note that the original use of four IIII’s for the number four on the clock face has been maintained.
The walls inside the clock tower have been re-rendered and painted and the original clock mechanisms remain in place, but were serviced and maintained.
Sections that were missing off the building, like ornate corner scrolls and a missing curtain scroll, have been rebuilt and reinstalled.
The old gum tree motif, half of which remained above the southern entrance to the building, has also been repaired.
Other significant works still to come include a complete rebuild of the 1920s portico, which was the entrance to the Bay Discovery Centre from Moseley Square.
The balcony on the western side of the building, which was also added in the 1920s, will be next to receive a major facelift. All the deteriorated timber work will be replaced and repainted and a ceiling will be installed under the balcony.
The rest of the western façade, along with the northern and eastern sides of the building, will be the focus of the stage three restoration works, which will take place over the coming 12 months.
The Glenelg landmark’s foundation stone was laid by Sir Henry Ayers on 11 December 1875. In 1884, the rounded dome at the top of the tower was added to house the clock donated by Mayor Thomas King.
The Glenelg Town Hall is home to the Bay Discovery Centre, a social history museum celebrating the cultural heritage of South Australia. The museum, open throughout the renovation of the Town Hall, is open daily 10am to 2pm.