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History

The Island Block

“The Civic Centre will have to be located in a core of population, so that, like a cathedral, it will rise and persist where civic life throbs hardest: - in a place that is, in every sense, the true heart of the municipality.” M C I Levy Wallumetta: a history of Ryde and its district, 1792 to 1945. p. 221. 

Section of 11th edition of Gregory’s Street directory 1942 showing how the ‘Island Block’ was created in the 1930s During the 1940s there were suggestions that other suburbs in the municipality such as West Ryde could house a new Civic Centre. The historical and sentimental centre of Ryde might not be the most suitable location. 

Re-development of the Tucker Street and Blaxland Road site was also considered. 

One piece of land ‘the triangle of land’ on Hatton’s Flat had long been considered a contender. This ‘island block’ had been created when Devlin Street was pushed through in the 1930s. 

In 1958, local newspapers proclaimed that ‘Ryde move on Civic Centre: island block chosen as site’; yet still by January, 1961 Council was debating whether that site should be used for the Civic Centre or as an extension to the Top Ryde Shopping Centre.

Arthur W Tuckwell Pty Ltd’s motor vehicle dealership at Devlin Street, Ryde was located on the ‘Island Block’. It was subsequently purchased by Ryde Council as part of the plan to establish a Civic Centre. 

Top Ryde Through the Years

1912

Looking south-east from the vicinity of Kulgoa Avenue towards Hatton’s Flat. The multi-storey building on the left is Harry Curzon Smith’s Hampton Court Tourist Residential at the corner of Devlin Street and Pope Street (north side). Also visible are the Ryde School of Arts, the Ryde Masonic Hall and the buildings on the site of the current Civic Centre.

[Local Studies Collection, Ryde Library]

Looking south-east from the vicinity of Kulgoa Avenue towards Hatton’s Flat. 1912

1935

Looking south-east from the intersection of Lane Cove Road and Devlin Street. The building on the left is the Rialto Theatre (now the site of Ryde Library) on the corner of Devlin Street and Pope Street (south side). The white building, immediately to its right, is the Bluebird Refreshment Rooms. Tram tracks can be seen in the foreground. Behind the trees in the centre of the photograph are the buildings occupying the site of the current Civic Centre. Behind them are the Ryde School of Arts, two shops and the Ryde Masonic Hall. The Parsonage fronting Turner Street is also visible. St Anne’s Church can be seen between the tall trees on the horizon. 

[Local Studies Collection, Ryde Library]

 Looking south-east from the intersection of Lane Cove Road and Devlin Street. 1935
1937

Looking north west from the vicinity of Top Ryde City. The road is Devlin Street. The buildings immediately to its left are occupying the ‘Island Block’, later the site of the Ryde Civic Centre. The building in the top right hand corner is the southern façade of the Rialto Theatre, on the corner of Devlin Street and Pope Street, now the site of Ryde Library. 

[Local Studies Collection, Ryde Library]

 Looking north west from the vicinity of Top Ryde City. 1937
1937

Looking south along Devlin Street. The building on the left is located at the corner of Devlin Street and Pope Street (north side). On the south side of Pope Street at its intersection with Devlin Street is the Rialto Theatre. The buildings to the west of Devlin Street (to the right as you look at it) occupy the ‘Island Block’, now the site of the Ryde Civic Centre. Behind them can be seen the Ryde School of Arts and the Ryde Masonic Hall. The tower of St Anne’s can be seen on the horizon between the tall trees. On the right hand side is the tram terminus. 

[Local Studies Collection, Ryde Library]

 Looking south along Devlin Street. 1937

The Architects and their Inspiration 

Holroyd Council Chambers, Memorial Ave

The chosen architects were Leslie J Buckland and C Druce. Other buildings by this firm include the Holroyd Council Chambers and the administration block of Parramatta Council.

Photo: Holroyd Council Chambers
[Courtesy of Local Studies Collection, Holroyd City 
Library] 

In its curved ‘curtain wall’ design the Ryde Civic Centre owed its inspiration to the AMP building, designed by Peddle Thorp & Walker Pty Ltd, which had been erected at Circular Quay in 1962.

Decision and Design

Civic Centre Committee’s report of 22 February, 1961 recommending to Council that the ‘Island Block’ should be developed as the Civic Centre site. [City of Ryde Council Minutes] 

Conditions for the Competition for the design of a Memorial Civic Centre. [Local Studies Collection, Ryde Library]

Civic Centre Committee’s report of 10 August, 1961 concerning consideration of the names of architects as supplied by the Royal Australian Institute of Architects. [City of Ryde Council Minutes]

Civic Centre Committee’s report of 20 September, 1961 re: the appointment of L J Buckland and Druce as the architects for the Civic Centre. [City of Ryde Council minutes]

Civic Centre Committee’s report of 15 November, 1961 recommending the adoption of plan no 1 which included (1) an administrative block (2) Town Hall and main ballroom (3) concert hall and ballroom (4) library. The ballroom and concert hall never eventuated. The Town Hall and Library were built, but six years later. [City of Ryde Council minutes]

Construction

 

Last updated on 12 February 2016