Great Hall, University of Newcastle, Callaghan Campus
The Great Hall of the University of Newcastle was designed by a firm of Sydney architects - Messrs Ancher, Mortlock, Murray and Wheeler, the design having been chosen in 1968. This company also designed the Shortland Building on the Callaghan site. The Gazette, October 1968 reported:
The designs submitted for the Competition were displayed at the Newcastle Art Gallery during the period of the Mattara Festival in August/September ...
The Great Hall will have to serve a number of academic and civic purposes. It will be used for University examinations and ceremonial occasions; it will provide a venue for symphony concerts; it will be available as a conference centre, for the performance of chamber music and for exhibitions.
The basic requirements for the design are therefore a main auditorium to seat at least 1,500 people; a stage area capable of seating a full symphony orchestra; a Green Room/Conference Room for 120 people; a Supper Room/Exhibition Space to accommodate up to 600 people and a Lecture Room/Chamber Music Room to seat up to 120 people. In addition, the design will provide for three special purpose rooms, dressing rooms, a control booth for electronic and lighting services, a kitchen servery and other ancillary spaces. It is hoped that funds will run to the provision of a grand piano and an organ.
The Appeal for the Great Hall, launched by the Lord Mayor on 19th July, 1966, was magnificently supported by the citizens of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley, by local industry and a large number of business firms and other organisations. To date, contributions received and promised from these sources amount to $521,000 and the Commonwealth and State Governments have agreed to a grant of $500,000 to be shared equally by them towards the cost of a Great Hall.
The first use of the Great Hall was the Graduation Day of Friday 16 March, 1973, as reported in The Gazette, April 1973 -
The Great Hall was used for the first time on Friday, 16th March, the fitting and impressive occasion being the University's Graduation Day. Both the morning and afternoon ceremonies attracted capacity crowds of relations and friends of graduands, The Chancellor, Sir Alister McMullin, admitted candidates to their degrees after the Deans had presented them to him.
The year has been significant in the University's history because it brought the virtual completion of the Great Hall. The building is a conspicuous landmark at Shortland and a number of public functions have been held inside the hall.
At the morning ceremony degrees were conferred in the Faculties of Applied Science, Economics and Commerce, Engineering, Mathematics and Science. The occasional address was delivered by the Vice - Chancellor.
Degrees in the Faculties of Architecture and Arts were conferred in the afternoon, when the occasional address was delivered by Professor Leonie J. Kramer, Professor of Australian Literature the University of Sydney.
The graduands were given a reception by the Chancellor and Members of the University Council in the Union on the night preceding Graduation Day and following the ceremonies the Graduation Ball was conducted by Convocation in the Great Hall.
Occasional address given by Professor Auchmuty:
This is a historic day for the graduates in the Sciences, Technology and Commerce, but it is also a historic day for the University as we make public use for the first time of this magnificent, almost awe-inspiring Great Hall. It is a triumph of Engineering as of Architecture: of Technology as of Science; a work of Art, even of beauty; but I must admit it has been a problem in Economics. Men and women are more important than buildings and machines so as we join in congratulating the new graduates of today we must also pay our tribute to the architects, the engineers, the builders and the other workmen concerned with this glorious achievement and as well to the hundreds of our fellow citizens who voluntarily supported this project by their financial gifts, together with the thousands of others who indirectly through the state and federal governments' supporting grants made involuntary contributions. The University is proud of its graduates, it is also proud of its acceptance by the community, of its close relationships with the population of Newcastle and the Hunter Valley and we hope that on our expanding campus we will see great development in scientific and cultural achievements so that the links between the University and its neighbourhood will be ever strengthened and that citizens will feel that though the University is a contributing and accepted member of the international community, nevertheless it has its roots firmly based in the local environment...
Opening of the Great Hall
The Great Hall was opened on Wednesday, 28 November 1973 by Sir Roden Cutler, Governor of New South Wales and Visitor to the University. The ceremony was marked by the conferring of honorary degrees (Doctor of Science) on two men who had made significant contributions to the university - Mr Bede Callaghan, C.B.E., Deputy Chancellor of the University, and Ald. F.J. Purdue, Chairman of the Lord Mayor's Newcastle University Committee, which conducted the appeal for funds for the construction of the Great Hall. (University News, No. 71, 27 Sep 1973)