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Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices (former)

  • 601018
  • 133 Cunningham Street, Dalby


Also known as
Darling Downs Northern School Support Centre
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
23 July 1999
Government administration: Council chambers/offices (town / city / shire / divisional board)
7.4 Maintaining order: Local government
Hall & Phillips
Construction period
1932, Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices (former) (1932 - 1932)
Historical period
1919–1930s Interwar period


133 Cunningham Street, Dalby
Western Downs Regional Council
-27.18319706, 151.26442537


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The former Dalby Town Council Chambers is significant as it demonstrates the growth and development of Dalby and the surrounding area and the increasing self confidence placed in the town by the Council and by the local population.

As the site of the School of Arts prior to the construction of the hall, and with the building housing a School of Arts when constructed, the place demonstrates the continued public use of the property for over 60 years.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

The former Dalby Town Council Chambers, a brick and concrete rendered building, is significant as one of only about six buildings extant in Dalby dating from the early 1930s. Other buildings include the former Wambo Shire Council Chambers and the Dalby Fire Station, both of which have Georgian elements in their designs and the former Union Bank. Internally, contributing to its significance, the former meeting room of the Dalby Town Council remains highly intact with timber panelling and screening.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The former Dalby Town Council Chambers is significant as example of an interwar building with Art Deco elements especially the decorative moulded relief work.

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

Located at the corner of Cunningham Street, the unpretentious yet elegant building provides an integral civic contribution to the streetscape.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

Further, it held a long association with the people of Dalby and surrounding areas as a focal point for social, and community functions.

Criterion HThe place has a special association with the life or work of a particular person, group or organisation of importance in Queensland’s history.

The former Dalby Town Council Chambers is significant for its association with the well-known Brisbane architectural firm, Hall and Phillips, in practice from 1929-1948. TR Hall had previously been in partnership with GG Prentice as Hall and Prentice.


The Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices (former), constructed in 1932 and located between Cunningham Street, Stuart Street and Groom Lane in the central business district of Dalby, was designed by prominent Queensland architects, Hall and Phillips Architects, and represents the Dalby municipality’s confidence in the future.[1]  The building is a surviving example of the substantial growth and development of the town and surrounding region in the 1930s; primarily due to the reclamation of prickly-pear-infested land through biological control with the Cactoblastis moth.[2] Incorporating Art Deco features, the masonry building makes an important civic contribution to the streetscape of Dalby’s main thoroughfare. It has a special association with the people of Dalby and district as a public facility for social and community activities.

The town of Dalby developed on the site of a crossing over Myall Creek, a tributary of the Condamine River. Henry Dennis, seeking grazing land for his employer, Charles Coxon, camped at the crossing site in 1841 soon after European occupation of the Darling Downs commenced.[3] A small settlement grew around 'the Crossing' and after several approaches to the New South Wales government by residents in 1852, surveyor, EO Moriaty, was instructed to set out a township of one square mile at Myall Creek.[4] Due to a mistake in the flood levels however, Captain Perry, Assistant Surveyor General, was sent in 1853 to resurvey the site for urban settlement. The nucleus of the township was laid out on a grid plan according to the regulations adopted by Governor Darling for the Colony of New South Wales, and Captain Perry renamed the town 'Dalby'.[5]

The first official land sales in Dalby occurred in April 1857, and in August 1863, Dalby was proclaimed a municipality by Sir George Bowen, Governor of Queensland. The new municipality elected a Town Council of six that was led by Mayor Frederick Roche.[6] Dalby's first town hall with council offices was constructed on a reserve in Scarlett Street, south of Myall Creek and land for a School of Arts reserved in the same area.[7]

In 1889 the Town Council building was destroyed by fire, prompting the council to move its offices to a site north of Myall Creek — an area that was becoming popular with local businesses. Located between a Commercial Bank building and the Dalby Post Office, the new council building faced the main thoroughfare of Cunningham Street and remained in this small timber building until it was destroyed by fire in 1909.[8] The council then relocated to a new timber building in Marble Street, which served a dual-purpose of Council Chambers and town clerk's residence.[9]

The School of Arts had also moved north of Myall Creek, to a corner site addressing Stuart and Cunningham streets. When it was decided in 1917 the School of Arts would amalgamate with Dalby Town Council, the School of Arts site was transferred to the council.[10]

Dalby grew significantly between 1926 and 1939 due to the reclamation of prickly pear land through the Cactoblastis moth biological control. Queensland-wide, 22 million acres of land, previously infested with prickly pear, was selected for settlement by 1941; allowing cotton, maize, wheat and other crops to be successfully grown, and dairy and wool production to increase.[11] As a result, the populations of the regional centres of Dalby, Chinchilla and Goondiwindi expanded, stimulating residential growth and significant expenditure on new buildings in the towns. For Dalby, this expenditure amounted to £200,000.[12] During the 1930s a number of civic buildings were constructed in Dalby including the Wambo Shire Council building, Dalby Fire Station [QHR602754], Dalby Courthouse and Police station, Dalby Swimming Pool Complex [QHR602564], Star Theatre and Union Bank building.[13]

After a fire destroyed the School of Arts building in August 1930, Dalby Town Council relocated their chambers back to Dalby’s main thoroughfare by constructing a new building in conjunction with the School of Arts on the Cunningham and Stuart streets site.[14] During the fire, a timber butcher shop on half of the adjacent, 11 perch (278m2) property was considerably damaged; the block was subsequently subdivided in 1931and the title for the northeastern, 5 ½ perch (139m2) half was transferred to Dalby Town Council by a Warrant of Execution.[15] Under the ownership of the council, the timber butcher shop was replaced between 1930 and 1932 by a new brick butcher shop that featured a tall parapet and a corrugated metal-clad, skillion awning.[16]

The new Dalby Town Council building, designed by Brisbane architectural firm, Hall and Phillips, accommodated the Town Council Chambers at the front, facing northwest to Cunningham Street, and the School of Arts at the rear, facing northeast to Stuart Street.[17] Hall and Phillips Architects formed in 1929, when Lionel Blythewood Phillips was admitted into partnership with Thomas Ramsay Hall, formerly of Hall and Prentice (responsible for the design of Brisbane City Hall [QHR 600065] and Tattersall's Club [600093]). Hall and Phillips continued in practice until 1948 and their other projects included The Empire Theatre in Toowoomba [600978], Nambour Town Hall, and shire offices at Gatton, Murweh, Boonah and Monto.[18]

At a meeting of the Dalby Town Council on 3 August 1931, 15 tenders were considered for the construction of the combined Council Chambers and School of Arts, and AE Hill and Brown's tender for £5075 was accepted.[19] Dalby's Town Clerk, Mr Thorley, acted voluntarily as Superintendent of Works.[20] Insurance from the damage to the old School of Arts building helped fund the construction of the new building, with the Dalby Council contributing £4000 to the overall cost of construction.[21]

The Town Council Chambers and School of Arts masonry building was completed by the end of January 1932, at a cost of £5180. The Council Chambers were located centrally in the front portion of the building, with various office spaces to the west and east. As the Council had had problems with fire in the past, the new Chamber Offices included a strong room which housed valuable books and records. At the rear of the building, a library, reading room, committee room and billiard room were provided for the School of Arts.[22] The Cunningham and Stuart streets elevations of the building were centred on projecting porticos with recessed entrances. The crest of the council was featured in low relief within the pediment of the porticos, and ‘DALBY TOWN COUNCIL’ was inscribed above the Cunningham Street entrance. Fluted pilasters stood either side of centre-pivoting windows and decorative, low relief horizontal bands ran across the elevations, both at parapet and window-head height.[23]

The Dalby Town Council and Offices was officially opened on Saturday 13 February by the Hon AE Moore, Premier of Queensland, with the Mayor of Dalby, Alderman Thomas Jack.[24]  The following day, the Sunday Mail described the new Council Chambers and School of Arts as a building, ‘unique in architecture… and austere in style,’ [25] and that there was ‘no more up-to-date council building in Queensland or in the country towns of Australia.’ [26]

The Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices building is one of a group of Queensland interwar town halls and shire chambers that are considered fine examples of the influence of modern architectural styles in Queensland townscapes. Incorporating elements of the jazz-influenced Art Deco and the machine-age vision of the Moderne, these buildings were built as expressions of confidence in a bright and modern future. Stylistic elements of Art Deco and the Moderne include decorative treatments like geometrical motifs, decorative vertical banding and a streamlining of the building form.[27] These features are evident in many prominent civic buildings throughout the State including the Kingaroy Shire Council Chambers (former) [QHR 602810], Goondiwindi Civic Centre [QHR 600531], Southport Town Hall [QHR 601649], Murgon Civic Centre [602812] and Gayndah Shire Hall [QHR 602124].[28]

In December 1934, the Dalby Town Council applied to the Treasury for a subsidised loan in order to resume land on the southeastern side of the chambers for the extension of the School of Arts facilities.[29] This application was approved on 4 July 1935 and £1800 was granted to Council for the addition.[30] It was constructed in the same style as the original building and was opened by Premier, EM Hanlon, on 16 November 1935.[31]

The brick butcher shop building on the adjacent property was converted into offices for council use between 1951 and 1958; and at some point in the period between 1951 and 1962, the front skillion awning was replaced with a flat-profiled suspended awning. A photo shows the brick building occupied in 1962 as an office space for the Council’s ‘Accounts and Enquiries’.[32] Other alterations to the building over time include: the enlargement of window and door openings, removal of the recessed entryway, and addition of tile-cladding to the Cunningham Street elevation; as well as an addition of concrete capping and tile-cladding to the previously facebrick parapet. In 2015, the interior finishes of the building are no longer intact, and comprise a singular open space, concrete slab floor, flat plaster walls and a suspended ceiling.[33]

The Dalby Town Council Chambers and former butcher shop building were vacated in the 1980s after new offices for the Dalby Town Council were constructed on a different site. The chambers have since been occupied by the Queensland Department of Education, the Darling Downs Northern School Support Centre, the Dalby Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and a bank.[34]

Openings along the southwestern elevation of the Council Chambers were enclosed in 2013, in order to form a firewall between the chambers and adjacent building.[35]

In 2015, although the building is no longer used for the seat of local government, the interior of the former Council Chamber is still exceptionally intact; retaining its early stained-dark timber wall panelling and architraves, as well as its early layout. The interior of the former School of Arts at the rear of the building has been modified and is now fitted with modern floor linings and recent office partitions.[36]


[1] Sunday Mail (SM), 14 February 1932, p. 6.

[2] Alan Dodd, ‘The Conquest of Prickly Pear’, RHSQJ, 1945, 3, 5, pp. 359-61.

[3] ‘St John’s Anglican Church’ QHR602399.

[4] University of Queensland, ‘Dalby’, 2015,<>, accessed March 2015; Clem Llewellyn Lack, ‘Dalby: a city built on wheat: centenary souvenir history of municipality’, Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, 7, 1, 1963, p. 198.

[5] The Queenslander (TQ), 28 September 1938, pp. 4-5.

[6] GH Wade, ‘From swamp to city…1863-1963: The Story of Dalby’, Dalby Town Council, Dalby, 1963, pp. 50, 55.

[7] Wade, ‘From swamp to city’, p. 50.

[8] TQ, 28 September 1938, pp. 4-5, 9; Wade, ‘From swamp to city’, p. 50; Tony Matthews, ‘Beyond the crossing: a history of Dalby and district’, Dalby Town Council, Dalby, 1988, p41; Brisbane Courier (BC), 22 January 1909, p. 5.

[9] Wade, ‘From Swamp to City’, p. 50; BC, 22 January 1909, p. 5; Warwick Examiner and Times, 23 January 1909, p. 8; Townsville Daily Bulletin, 22 January 1909, p. 5; Maryborough Chronicle, Wide Bay and Burnett Advertiser, 22 January 1909, p. 2; John Oxley Library (JOL), ‘Dalby-Buildings-Dalby Town Council Chambers’, Image 12312, c1923.

[10] The title for the School of Arts site was transferred to Dalby Town Council on 24 May 1917.

Eddie Clarke, ‘Technical further education in Queensland: a history 1860-1990’, Educational History Unit, Department of Education Queensland and Bureau of Employment, Vocational and Further Education and Training Queensland, Brisbane, 1992, p. 5; Matthews, ‘Beyond the crossing’, p70; BC, 23 June 1917, p. 7; Queensland Department of Natural Resources and Mines (DNRM), ‘Certificate of Title: 10200028’.

[11] Dodd, ‘Conquest of prickly-pear’, pp. 359-61.

[12] Dodd, ‘Conquest of prickly-pear’, p. 361.

[13] ‘Dalby Fire Station’ QHR602754; ‘Dalby Swimming Pool Complex’ QHR602564.

[14] Matthews, ‘Beyond the crossing’, p. 70; BC, 24 July 1931, p. 5.

[15] DNRM, ‘Certificate of Title: 10156105’; DNRM, ‘Certificate of Title: 11841111’; DNRM, ‘Survey Plan: RP48991’; BC, 23 August 1930, p. 17; Western Star and Roma Advertiser, 8 August 1931, p. 7.

[16] ‘Building’, 12 April 1932, p. 78; JOL, ‘Dalby-Buildings- School of Arts’, Image 12313, c1930; Western Downs Regional Council Library Image Collection (WDRC Library), ‘Image 53’; TQ, 25 February 1932, p. 20; TQ, 25 May 1933, p. 24.  

[17] SM, 14 February 1932, p. 6.

[18] ‘Gayndah Shire Hall’ QHR602124; ‘Tattersall's Club’ 600093; ‘Empire Theatre (former)’ 600978.

[19] BC, 8 August 1931, p. 16; Matthews, ‘Beyond the crossing’, p. 70.

[20] SM, 14 February 1932, p. 6.

[21] SM, 14 February 1932, p. 6.

[22] ‘Building’, 12 April 1932, pp. 78-9.

[23] TQ, 25 February 1932, p. 20.

[24] BC, 27 January 1932, p. 14; SM, 14 February 1932, p. 6; BC, 16 February 1932, p14; TQ, 25 February 1932, p20; BC, 17 February 1932, p. 14.

[25] SM, 14 February 1932, p. 6.

[26] SM, 14 February 1932, p. 6.

[27] R Apperly, R Irving and P Reynolds, ‘A pictorial guide to identifying Australian Architecture: Styles and terms from 1788 to the present’, Angus and Robertson Publishers, Sydney, 1994, pp. 188-191; ‘Kingaroy Shire Council Chambers’ QHR602810; ‘Murgon Civic Centre’ QHR602812.

[28] ‘Kingaroy Shire Council Chambers’ QHR602810; ‘Murgon Civic Centre’ QHR602812; ‘Goondiwindi Civic Centre’ QHR600531; ‘Southport Town Hall’ QHR601649; ‘Gayndah Shire Hall’ QHR602124.

[29] CM, 28 December 1934, p. 4.

[30] CM, 5 July 1935, p. 18.

[31] CM, 16 November 1935, p. 15.

[32] JOL, ‘Dalby-Buildings- Dalby Town Council Chambers’, 1951; CM, 9 December 1954, p23; Brian Harris, personal communication, 18 February 2015; WDRC Library, ‘Council_32’­, 16 April 1962.

[33] Applicant-supplied images, 2015.

[34] Thom Blake, ‘Dalby Council Chambers Heritage Impact Report’, 20 August 2013, pp. 3-4.

[35] Blake, ‘DCC Heritage Impact Report’, pp. 1-7.

[36] Blake, ‘DCC Heritage Impact Report’, p. 3; REA Group, ‘Unit 2b, 133 Cunningham Street, Dalby’, 2015,<>, accessed March 2015.


The Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices (former) is a single storey masonry structure, located on a 564m2 corner site in the central business district of Dalby. The rectangular site is bounded by Cunningham Street, Stuart Street and Groom Lane and by adjoining commercial offices on the southwestern side. The building occupies the entire site, provides an important civic contribution to the steetscape of the main thoroughfare of Dalby through its scale and ordered composition, and is notable for its Art Deco features.   

The building is a rendered masonry structure (facebrick at the rear) with a skillion roof that is concealed from the street frontages behind a painted masonry parapet. Roughly rectangular in plan, it has entrances to the northwest and northeast elevations. There is an extension at the rear (1935) in the same style as the original building. The adjoining building on the southwestern side is not of cultural heritage significance at a state level.

The approximately symmetrical, main elevations face northwest to Cunningham Street and northeast to Stuart Street. The northwest elevation is centred on a projecting portico with a recessed entrance. The external corners of the portico walls step in toward the entrance and the recessed walls feature the shield of the Dalby Town Council in low-relief. The council’s shield is also featured in low-relief in the pediment above the portico, and inscriptions of the words “Dalby Town Council, Inc 1863” form the entablature. A pair of timber panelled doors, with a fanlight featuring decorative leadlighting, stand within the portico and are accessed via a small set of stairs, leading up from street level. The northeast elevation features a portico at the northern end, with the council's shield located at the centre of the pediment. A difference in blockwork sizes in the northeast parapet wall indicates where the rear extension was added. Verticality is expressed on the Cunningham Street and Stuart Street elevations by a series of, generally evenly-spaced, fluted pilasters. Located between the pilasters are long and narrow banks of four- and two-light, centre-pivoting casement windows that are surrounded by moulded architraves. Fixed four-light windows stand above the modern doors of the northeast elevation. Decorative low-relief, moulded horizontal bands run at window head-height and along the parapet of both elevations, and squares of a similar design are featured at the top of the pilasters. Vents within a projecting, ground level band ventilate the floor space. The metal bracket supporting a sign on the northeast elevation is modern and is not of cultural heritage significance.

The southeast (and the rear section of the southwest) elevation, fronting Groom Lane, is facebrick with a horizontal, narrow rendered band running across the elevation at window head-height level. Three four-light, timber-framed, double-hung windows are retained, and the remaining windows have been blocked-up to create a firewall. A narrow section of the rear wall has also been enclosed with later facebrick. 

Internally, the building comprises the centrally located, highly intact former Council Chamber space and strong room.  The chamber has a parquet floor, a timber dado on all four walls with timber screenings on the windows.   Changes have occurred to the other offices with the installation of screens to provide for office space; modern carpets and suspended ceilings have also been installed. The front office contains the original timber public counter. Decorative plaster ceilings with decorative cornices are located in the office which contains the strong room.  A brass plaque fixed to the wall commemorates the opening of the former Council Chambers by the Premier. Internal alterations have occurred in the rear, former School of Arts, extension. The early walls and ceilings have been removed, and the original layout in this area is no longer discernible. 

Image gallery


Location of Dalby Town Council Chambers and Offices (former) within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 January 2016
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