• Royal Hall of Industries History and Heritage

    Exhibitions, dances, ice skating and a morgue!

 

Some buildings look great, some buildings have great histories. A select few buildings both look good and have amazing histories – but one such building is in Moore Park. Meet the Royal Hall of Industries!

If buildings could talk, then the Royal Hall of Industries would be fascinating to listen to. It is located in the Moore Park, fronting Driver Avenue.

 

    The Royal Hall of Industries fronts Driver Avenue in Moore Park, and is adjacent the Hordern Pavilion

The Royal Hall of Industries fronts Driver Avenue in Moore Park, and is adjacent the Hordern Pavilion

 

While the building has stood in Moore Park for over 100 years, change of usage has been a constant. Whether changing to stay relevant, or changing to meet emergency needs, this building is truly special.

 

A landmark building!

The Royal Hall of Industries was opened on 28 February 1913 by the then President of the Royal Agricultural Society. The building, which took nine months to build, cost the princely sum of £23,000. At the time, the Royal Hall of Industries was a considered a landmark of progress and reputedly the largest exhibition hall in the southern hemisphere.

When the Royal Hall of Industries first opened to the public The Sydney Morning Herald reported a treasure trove of futuristic exhibits, including motorcycles, insecticides, photographic equipment, jewellery, novelties and musical instruments.

 

    Royal Hall of Industries circa 1910s (image courtesy Playbill Venues)

Royal Hall of Industries circa 1910s (image courtesy Playbill Venues)

 

A sudden ‘reuse’…

In 1919 the building was commandeered by the NSW Government for use as a morgue during the 1919 influenza epidemic – its only exhibition a sobering row of coffins.

 

‘The place’ to be!

For much of the last 120 years Moore Park has been the place to be in Sydney. Apart from the attraction of sporting fans to the stadia, Moore Park was home to the Royal Easter Show in Sydney for 115 years, with the Royal Hall of Industries a key venue for the event.

During the 1920s, in between ‘the Shows’, the building became known as the “Palais Royale” and was a popular rendezvous for young Sydneysiders, who flocked to the dances and grand balls.

“The biggest musical influence in the period 1923-1928 was a succession of visiting white American jazz (or dance) orchestras, mainly from the West Coast, and including Frank Ellis and his Californians, who arrived in 1923. Thousands of dance fans regularly flocked to see them at Sydney’s largest dance hall, the Palais Royale.” – Australian Jazz entry on Wikipedia.

 

More change ahead…

During the Great Depression of the 1930s the building was used as a boxing venue – an intensively popular sport during those hard economic times.

In December 1937, James Charles Bendrodt, a Canadian-born roller-skater and restaurateur (among other famous and infamous roles), formed a company to transform the Palais Royal into the opulent Ice Skating Palais which featured Canadian figure-skating and ice-hockey stars. He renamed this business – the Ice Palais. However this was a relatively short-lived venture.

In 1939, at the outbreak of World War II, the army took it over and used the building as the much more mundane AIF District Accounts Office.

After the war ended the building returned primarily to its original role as an exhibition space, and – during Royal Easter Show periods – became the iconic “Showbag Pavilion”.

 

MasterChef Live at the Royal Hall of Industries 2011

MasterChef Live at the Royal Hall of Industries 2011

Today, as relevant as ever…

Today the Royal Hall of Industries plays host to many spectacular events such as The Marie Claire Awards, the annual Mardi Gras Party and several festivals such as MasterChef Live and Stereosonic. The space is also available to hire for events, functions or exhibitions. Find out more.

If you’re looking for a venue with facilities and a history, look no further than the Royal Hall of Industries!

- posted by Craig Easdown

 

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