Anzac Day 2020 marks 94 years since the official opening of the Isis Shire Council Chambers and Memorial Hall.
The building, a fine example of early Queensland architecture, was the result of initiatives commenced in 1925 by members of the Isis District War Memorial Committee.
The committee was moved to secure a memorial to perpetuate the memory of the 360-plus local men who had died during the First World War.
The Isis Shire Council, at a meeting held on 9 February 9 1925, supported an approach from the committee to proceed with such a building.
A competition was organised for the design of the building which was won by a Mr FL Jones of Auchenflower in Brisbane. Mr Jones received a prize of 26 pounds and five shillings (today worth about $2700).
The building, created in the form of a Maltese Cross, was entrusted to noted Queensland architect Lt Col Thomas Pye to provide drawings.
In a career commencing in 1899 mainly with Public Works, Pye was responsible for major architectural works throughout Queensland including a substantial input into Brisbane’s Treasury Building.
Pye died at age 69 in southern Africa after catching “black-water fever” at Victoria Falls.
Construction of the building was won on tender by RV Brady who tendered a price of 3449 pounds and 19 shillings (currently worth about $A285,000). The building was finished in under 12 months.
The project was funded through a donation from the Isis District War Memorial Committee supported by a 2000 pounds loan secured by Council.
Mayor hails ‘visionary' Childers Memorial Hall
Bundaberg Regional Council Mayor Jack Dempsey said the visionary decision by the Isis Shire Council in 1925 to push ahead with the project had left a lasting legacy.
“The Memorial Room, or the Hall of Memories as it is commonly called, is a very special space,” he said.
“There is no doubt it has a certain reverence to it. The bronze plaques around the wall each with a small photograph of a soldier killed in action really personalises the memorial.”
Mayor Dempsey said the plaques and their photographs relate scores of sad but amazing stories, many of which are tied to the Gallipoli landing. Second World War fallen from the district are also featured.
“Within the last 12 months Council has been involved in correcting a mistake where the name of one of the region’s Gallipoli fallen, Frederick Stanley Salmoni, had his name incorrectly spelled on a number of memorials throughout the Childers and Gin Gin districts.
“Frederick, originally from Booyal, was among the first to fall at Gallipoli with records indicating he was in the third wave to come ashore at what is known as Anzac Cove.
“Along with most of his platoon, Frederick was killed while retreating under heavy bombardment. His body lay in no man’s land for almost a month until an unofficial truce was declared on May 24 and the fallen collected.”
“His remains were later lost, and he was placed among the list of missing. That is why it is of paramount importance that shrines like the Hall of Memories are maintained for posterity,” said the Mayor.
“In this place Frederick has a name, a face and an identity and is with a brotherhood that suffered a similar fate.”
Divisional councillor Bill Trevor said the building served as the Council Chambers with the Childers Memorial Hall occupying the left wing and a Soldier’s Room (later used as a Council meeting room) the right wing.
“Council added the covered area over the Krupp howitzer in 2001 and this provided a connection to the building that further enhanced its unique character,” he said.
The Isis Shire Council Chambers and Memorial Hall now operate as a Bundaberg Regional Council Service Centre.
Visit the Bundaberg Now Facebook page at 10am on Saturday, 25 April for a locally produced Anzac Day video commemoration.
- Other news: Anzac Day video tribute planned