I’m helping out with a school holiday event called Minecraft At The Museum (click the link and go about half way down the page) this week and Sunday we were setting up the computer network in an old museum building called The Armoury which is behind the South Australian Museum on North Terrace, Adelaide.
I hadn’t been to this part of the museum since I was in primary school so it was exciting to me to find these lovely buildings with their references to South Australia’s early military.
Being the curious person that I am I took a heap of photos and when I got home started Googling! I found this article by R.J. Potts Chief Superintendent (Ret.), Hon. Secretary, S.A.Police Historical Society Inc. The Former North Terrace Mounted Police Barracks.
In 1854 tenders were called for what became termed the ‘armoury building’ on the southern side of the quadrangle. Designed by the Colonial Architect W. Bennett Hayes, and built by contractor W. Lines, the building was completed in 1855, and was built of uncaused limestone with brick quoins, and with a slate roof. It is believed that the limestone used in the construction of the armoury building and the east and west wings of the mounted police barracks, came from the banks of the River Torrens, at or near the site of the present (2001) Festival Theatre. Other stone from Murray Bridge was also used.1
Large iron swing entrance gates ‘with massive arches surmounted by three stone structures’ were built on the eastern and western sides of the quadrangle, adjacent to the northern end of each building and were completed in 1851. (One of these entrance gates remains in position on the eastern side of the parade ground in 2001).2 (my note – it’s still there in 2016)
Tenders were then called in 1850 by the Colonial Engineer for the erection of a purpose-built stone and brick single story barracks complex. The single story buildings that were designed by Captain Freeling and built by contractor J.H.Walker were completed in 1851. Built of limestone and brick with slate roofs and featuring gables with decorative fretted barge boards, they formed the eastern and western wings of a quadrangle that contained a parade ground measuring 210 feet (approx. 65 metres) by 110 feet (approx. 35 metres).3
While the original building on the eastern side of the quadrangle has been demolished (1950’s), the two-story building still standing on the western side of the quadrangle still contains sections of the 1851 construction. These buildings are believed to have contained troop rooms, mess rooms and quartermaster’s quarters.4
While independent volunteer rifle units were established in S.A. as early as 1844 in metropolitan districts of Adelaide, it was in 1850 that the first South Australian regiment, ‘The Adelaide Rifles’ was raised. The regimental headquarters of this unit was located within the armoury building in the North Terrace Mounted Police barracks complex, which it shared with the S.A. mounted police. The companies that made up the regiment remained at their particular metropolitan locations.5
It is well worth reading the whole article if you’re interested in South Australian history.