The images below give us a fascinating 180 degree snapshot, West to East through North, of Adelaide University from the top of the Exhibition Building. We have no date for the photographs, but it can be guessed that as the original Barr Smith Library looks complete (it was opened in March 1932) and the recently acquired Jubilee Oval was yet to be stripped of the old buildings adjacent to the Library (historian Rob Linn notes that this took place in late 1933) the photographs were taken sometime during this period. They were certainly taken before 1935 as there is no sign of Bonython Hall. Also, a friend who knows something about vintage cars says that a late model vehicle parked outside the Elder building suggests the images couldn’t have been taken before the early 1930s.
The panorama provides us with a remarkable view of the University and surrounds as it was in the early 1930s. Much of course has changed in the seven decades since it was taken. Most obviously the Exhibition Building, the roof of which can be seen in the foreground of some of the frames, and the Jubilee Oval to its north, have long since disappeared. Also worth noting, from left to right (west to east):
- The Prince of Wales Building, behind the Mitchell Building, is still intact in its original form – much of it was demolished in 1972 to make way for the Wills and Hughes Buildings.
- Directly behind Elder Hall can be seen the cluster of buildings that was also demolished in the early 1970s to make way for the Barr Smith Library extension and Hughes Plaza – the Jarrah Hut (labelled here ‘Temporary Chemistry’), the Anatomy Building and the old Staff Club. Looking northwest from these can be seen the newly completed original stage of the Cloisters, Refectory and Lady Symon Buildings – since significantly embellished. Northwest of Elder Hall there can also be seen the Spanish Mission style Hartley Building and in the distance the original Adelaide Oval Members Stand.
- The brand new Barr Smith Library is evident and to its west the rundown looking Jubilee Oval and Exhibition Grounds. This area had been used for Royal Shows and rodeos but had recently been transferred to the University by the State Government, allowing the perpetually crowded institution greater certainty in planning future expansion. Economic depression and WWII prevented the use of this land in the manner and time frame envisaged by University architect Walter Hervey Bagot, but it would come to house buildings put up in the immediate post-War era such as Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematics and the R.A. Fisher Labs.
- Looking across Frome Road, suggests Rob Linn, is the original 1860s exhibition building (adjacent to the playing field). As you move further east to the final frame there are the western faces of the Brookman Building and the Royal Adelaide Hospital. A tram can be seen on North Terrace.
The image also gives us glimpses of the vision University architect Walter Hervey Bagot was in the process of realising during this period. Bagot was responsible for the distinctive style of structures such as the Barr Smith Library and the Darling, Physics, Cloisters/Lady Symon, and Brailsford Robertson buildings, all of which were constructed during 1920s and early 1930s. In his forthcoming history of the University Rob Linn writes that the Darling Building, finished in 1921, ‘was testimony to the first steps in Bagot’s use of a clean classical style that was adapted to the local environment; he used the simple lines of seventeenth and eighteenth century English design and manipulated an aesthetic distribution of windows and skylights so as to create the maximum use of sunlight without gaining too much heat within the building’.
Duncan, W.G.K. and Roger Ashley Leonard. The University of Adelaide, 1874-1974. Adelaide: Adelaide, Rigby, 1973.
Linn, Rob. The Spirit of Knoweldge: a social history of the University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus, unpublished manuscript, 2011.
“Notable Buildings Walking Guide: The University of Adelaide North Terrace Campus”. Pamphlet produced by Art & Heritage Collections, University of Adelaide, 2009.