SHORTEN and CUTHBERT: Contractor
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Won in competition.
(SAAR Sep 1934:248; tend 1936; PWSA Jul 1939:31-34; SA Archt Nov 1939:285)
The Benoni Town Hall has been planned with vision and foresight. The accommodation and facilities are such that, even if the rapid growth which has characterized Benoni’s recent history is maintained, the hall will meet the town’s requirements for many years to come. The corner stone was laid by His Excellency The Right Honorable Earl of Clarendon PC C.C.M.G. Governor General of the Union of South Africa on 19 September 1936.
Designed by the architects, Messrs J. Lockwood Hall and built by Shorten & Cuthbert in the free classic style, the building which has cost £80 000.00 to complete and furnish, has an imposing frontage of 120 feet (36.5 m) on Prince’s Avenue, itself one of the most delightful boulevards in the Southern Hemisphere. A striking feature is the graceful central tower, which rises above the façade to a height of 120 feet (36.5 m) and is visible for many miles around.
Extending back a distance of 200 feet (61 m), the building has a second public entrance from Woburn Avenue.
From the main portals, which are approached along a wide sweeping drive, one passes between handsome teak doors into an airy loggia embodying a tasteful entrance hall, with a plaque perpetuating the names of former Mayors.
Beyond is the main hall, an outstanding example of modern architecture, which covers an area of 7 568 square feet (703 sq m). Like the paneling of the walls, the floor is laid with beautifully grained wood and is sprung for dancing.
Lounges, with numerous entrances, run the full length of the hall on either side. At the rear of the hall is a huge balcony overlooking not only the stage, but the major portion of the floor below. On either side, galleries have been provided, with private entrances.
The stage, which measures 43 by 19 ½ feet (13 by 6 m), is suitable for the presentation of plays or other entertainments.
With the object of introducing soft and harmonious tones, an unusual system of illumination has been installed throughout the building. Outstanding results have been obtained by the use of “lay lighting” in the main beams of the hall, enabling the creation of some delightful colour combinations. A large centre “chandelier” of modernistic design is the crowning feature of the lighting scheme.
Special acoustic treatment, for which experts were engaged, ensures that music and speeches are heard with clarity in any part of the hall.
Including the galleries, the hall has seating accommodation for 1 200 people, although many more could be admitted should special circumstances arise.
Identical in general treatment and equipment is the second, smaller hall, opening on Woburn Avenue. Here also there is a spring floor, 60 feet square (5.6 m sq). The stage, almost as wide as that in the main hall, has a depth of 14 feet (4.3 m) and is artistically curtained in blue and silver. There are seats for 400 people and ample foyers which, in the event of a dance being held, can be converted into supper rooms.
The official opening of the Town Hall was on 12 October 1938.
Source: Programme of the Opening of Town Hall, 12th October 1938.
Transcribed by Glynis Cox Millett-Clay, 3 May 2015.
Submitted by William Martinson.
These notes were last edited on 2021 08 30
All truncated references not fully cited below are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.