Hall School Museum

Speech in the ACT Legislative Assembly

23 September 2015

I rise this evening to speak about the Hall School Museum and Heritage Centre. The Hall school museum is located in the village of Hall, close to the ACT-New South Wales border near the Barton Highway. Hall was named after Henry Hall, the owner of the 3,492 acre property called Charnwood, which he was granted in 1833. The village was first gazetted in 1882. The first land in the village was sold in 1886, but development was slow. The Hall school building was constructed in 1910 and opened in 1911, with just 37 students. The school grew slowly and reached a peak enrolment of 189 students in 1981.

The idea of the school museum was first raised at the diamond jubilee of the school in 1961. The original school building was set up with old furniture and memorabilia and visitors were so impressed that they suggested the display should be maintained. In 1980 the use of the building as a museum was officially approved and support from the ACT Schools Authority was received in 1984.

The first honorary curator was Laurie Copping, who had retired in 1981 after 20 years as principal of the school. The museum was officially opened on 19 April 1986 by the then Governor-General, Sir Ninian Stephen. In 2004 the then Governor-General, Michael Jeffery, dedicated the museum to Laurie Copping as the “Laurie Copping heritage centre”.

After the school was closed in 2006, the Village of Hall and District Progress Association worked to protect and promote the museum. The museum is set up to replicate a small school of the inter-war period. The museum has a large collection of material relating to the Hall-Ginninderra district. It also holds an extensive collection of school text books and primary school library books dating back from the late 19th century.

As well as its regular exhibitions, the museum also puts together special exhibitions, including wonderful exhibitions to commemorate the centenary of Anzac earlier this year. The Hall school museum is managed by the honorary curator, Phil Robson. Phil is assisted by an enthusiastic group of volunteers from the friends of Hall school museum as well as the Hall progress association. I also acknowledge that the community has a special relationship with the Hall Rotary Club.

Members may be aware of the recent difficulties faced by the Hall school museum. It appears that the government may want to charge an exorbitant amount for the museum to continue in the school building. I urge the government to work with the museum to ensure that it can continue to provide a wonderful community resource for the people of Hall and the whole of the ACT at a reasonable expense. It is a very special precinct, and I think it is yet to reach its potential.

I recommend members who have not already taken the trip out to Hall to visit the museum and experience the very special village. For more information about the Hall school museum, I recommend members visit their very informative website at www.museum.hall.act.gov.au.