Iconic buildings of Adelaide: The Torrens Drill Hall


Ever wondered about the building opposite the new Adelaide Oval? The prestigious white Torrens Drill Hall is celebrating its 80th year this year.

To mark the occasion, 891 ABC Adelaide took a tour of the site, which was previously used for a quarry and rubbish dump.

Today the hall still houses some of South Australia’s historical war treasures.

The original Drill Hall and storage shed in August 1935.

Two smaller buildings — a hall and a storage shed — were originally built on the site, before the current building opened on September 22, 1936.

“Architecturally we call it a stripped classical style, verging on a bit of art deco” architect Michael Queale told 891 ABC Adelaide‘s Afternoons host Sonya Feldhoff.

“This hall was built in an exercise of providing better accommodation for those new things called guns and trucks, rather than horses and carriages.”

No 7 Platoon march past the Drill Hall in January 1945.

The facilities were refurbished in the period between the two world wars, in a time when the Commonwealth Government was investing heavily in such facilities as it prepared for World War II.

As part of the centenary of federation, the building and land was handed over to the South Australian Government from the Federal Government in 2001.

Mr Queale was the architect employed to oversee the building’s restoration to grandeur, and ensure its future use by several government departments.

Inside the Drill Hall.

“The RSL, air force association and Vietnam Veterans came together … and we fitted the top floor out for those organisations and the ground floor for cultural and community use,” he said.

Repairs were carried out to fix a leaking roof and salt damp.

A podium was added to the front of the building to aid wheelchair access and provide a platform for ceremonies.

The original bronze-clad doors can still be seen at each entrance, with modern glass doors installed behind.

A man walks into the Drill Hall at the Torrens Parade Ground.

Several items of memorabilia were introduced to the building once it was restored in 2001.

A bronze relief that once was on the facade of the RSL in Angus Street now hangs at the southern end of the Drill Hall.

The bronze relief from the front of the Angus Street RSL.

“Our upstairs tenants have a fairly fascinating collection of memorabilia,” Mr Queale said.

One piece — the still operational RAAFA links simulator — was used to train WWII pilots for night flying.

“We always called it the Snoopy plane,” Mr Queale said.

“Most air force pilots in World War II were trained in this thing.”

The RAAFA links simulator.