Par­ra­matta Town Hall & Cen­te­nary Square: Mar­ket Day.

Hills to Hawkesbury Living Magazine - - Health & Wellbeing -

By Carmel Lid­dell. The Par­ra­matta Town Hall site, the old­est in Aus­tralia, was es­tab­lished in 1792 by Gov­er­nor Phillip who set aside the land in his plan for Par­ra­matta. He des­ig­nated the area as a mar­ket place in the early 1800’s and it was there in 1816, that Gov­er­nor Mac­quarie ini­ti­ated the ‘An­nual Meet­ing of the Abo­rig­i­nal Tribes at Par­ra­matta’ which con­tin­ued un­til 1833. The site re­mained a mar­ket place un­til 1878 when it was pre­pared for the con­struc­tion of the Town Hall.

Par­ra­matta Town Hall, a two storey, Vic­to­rian, Free Clas­si­cal style build­ing de­signed by ar­chi­tect Ge­orge Allen Mans­field, was built by Hart and La­vors in 1880. Com­pleted in 1883 at a cost of A£2,300, the build­ing bears the City of Par­ra­matta Coat of Arms, fea­tur­ing Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple spear­ing eels from the river, and the in­scrip­tion ‘Town Hall, CJ Byrnes, Mayor, 1880’. Though the Her­itage Listed town hall has had sev­eral ad­di­tions over the years, it re­mains a unique and beau­ti­ful, civic build­ing.

The Town Hall’s faith­fully re­stored Main Hall, has high ceil­ings, elab­o­rate in­te­rior and tal­low wood floor­ing. It can ac­com­mo­date up to two hun­dred guests for re­cep­tions, wed­dings, ex­hi­bi­tions, fairs, prod­uct launches, con­fer­ences, sem­i­nars and gen­eral meet­ings. It has a side kitchen en­try which al­lows cater­ing ac­cess to both the Main Hall, and the smaller Ju­bilee Hall, also avail­able for hire. The build­ing houses three ad­di­tional rooms, the Charles Byrnes Room and two smaller meet­ing rooms.

In 2014 the area in front of the town hall, for­merly the Church Street Mall, was re­named Cen­te­nary Square. Af­ter many long years, this bustling, colour­ful heart of Par­ra­matta City is once again a mar­ket and meet­ing place for lo­cal peo­ple. Ev­ery Fri­day, it comes alive with the Par­ra­matta Farm­ers’ Mar­ket, a show­case for fresh pro­duce sourced from the Syd­ney basin and re­gional NSW. Re­gard­less of the sur­round­ing re­de­vel­op­ment- mu­si­cians, chess play­ers and ta­ble ten­nis play­ers, carry on. Lunch time crowds tempted by tasty treats, min­gle or set­tle at ta­bles be­neath colour­ful um­brel­las. Chil­dren play in the foun­tain. Or chase pi­geons. Or both. And all the while, Par­ra­matta Town Hall, the cen­tre piece of Cen­te­nary Square, pre­sides over the fair- like at­mos­phere of mar­ket days. ref­er­ence: Par­ra­matta Govern­ment & Par­ra­matta Her­itage Cen­tre web­sites.

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