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Sustaining the Past for the Future: The Fascinating Story of the Khandallah Town Hall and Our Role in Its Maintenance

Updated: Jun 27



Wellington Builders | Renovations | Construction | Design & Architecture Services | Environmentally Conscious | Wellington Roofing & Waterproofing | Wellington Painters

Front facade of the KhandallahTown Hall, painted by Orkney Painting & Decorating

A community building that has been around for over a century has stories to tell! That is certainly true of the Khandallah Town Hall.

Orkney Roofing & Waterproofing was recently contracted to replace the roof while Orkney Painting & Decorating gave the building a much-needed freshening-up. The Town Hall is the oldest public building in the suburb. Our curiosity was piqued while working on this historic building, so we decided to dig around a bit and find out about its history.

Read on to find out what we discovered!

The Town Hall was designed by architect Frederick de Jersey Clere and built in 1912, despite a bit of opposition from ratepayers who didn’t want to pay for it (it would cost around an additional 2 shillings per week). Eventually, the Onslow Borough Council raised a loan for £1650 with a term of 36.5 years.

The Khandallah Town Hall was officially opened with a concert and dance on 25 March 1912, hosted by the local bowling club. The hall was packed as the “Wellington Orphans Club” brought down the house with their songs, and a Mr C Girdlestone had everyone in fits of laughter with his impersonations (as did a Mr Zante Wood, who had won the “humorous” section in the recent NZ competitions). The Evening Post reported that the mayor thanked the organisers for their excellent programme.

In the early days, the Khandallah Town Hall (originally called the Public Hall) was mostly used for dances, concerts, and movies. It also hosted a range of events from war relief fundraiser concerts during World War 1, sewing bees, playgroups, the Onslow Horticultural Society, the Plunket Society, and St Barnabas Church. It became in demand as a “pleasure house” – the screening of moving pictures. However, in 1922 when the Superintendent of the Fire Brigade inspected the hall and noticed the age of the projector and the poor ventilation in the room, he identified the potential fire hazard of the amateur set-up of the lantern room and screenings were halted immediately.

In 1926, after renovations were made to address these issues, the movies were able to be screened again.

In 1931, the franchise for movies was taken over by the Greater Australian Film Ltd and the Hall was given the name “The Khandallah Picture Theatre”. Some of the movies shown were Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis comedies, Marilyn Monroe classics and a range of cowboy movies. The main part of the Hall was still available for other uses such as by the Khandallah Boy Scouts, Khandallah Progressive Association, the Anglican and Presbyterian Churches, Khandallah Tennis Club, Khandallah Badminton Club, and the Red Cross.

Dance classes were held, a women’s choir, the Wellington Male Voice Choir, and it was even home to some businesses such as the BNZ and a local realtor, Cyril Cole. Around mid-1965, when the Khandallah Scouts hosted a dance that resulted in a drunken brawl, these types of events were banned from the Hall. The cinema closed around the same time. The building then became popular for sports – indoor bowls, and badminton, followed by martial arts and fitness groups.

Unfortunately, over time the building came into disrepair and demand for it decreased. By 2003 the Wellington City Council established the Khandallah Community Forum, chaired by local Dermot Byrne. The forum's goal was to come up with ideas for developing the building, so it could meet the social and recreational needs of the community.

Several proposals, submissions and many years later, renovation work finally commenced in February 2011. The original balcony that had extended over the footpath (but which was replaced by a simple suspended verandah in the 1950’s) was reinstated. The contractors involved in the restoration of the project were careful to maintain the rare, beaded weatherboards with imitation half-timbering laid over the top (very typical of de Jersey Clere).

In addition to renovations on the building, emergency water tanks and a generator have been included so that the Hall can be used as a civil defence centre in the event of an emergency. As part of the ongoing maintenance of this historic building, Orkney Roofing & Waterproofing was contracted to replace the entire roof and to install a waterproof membrane on the trafficable membrane deck.

Photo of old Khandallah Town Hall roof

The existing roof was “Onduline” - a product that has since been pulled from the market due to poor performance. The Orkney roofers removed the old product and flashings, insulated the cavity with R3.2 skillion pink batts, installed new purlins and installed the new roofing system which comprised of Thermokraft 407 underlay and ColorSteel Maxx 0.55 corrugate from Roofing Industries (a marine-grade paint system from NZ Steel). 


Photo showing new colorsteel roof on the Khandallah Town Hall, replaced by Orkney Roofing

The existing roofing system was installed on insufficient 25mm battens, so the team had to upgrade to new treated timber purlins allowing for the high wind zone. This was a lot of work, but the roofers took it all in their stride.

Another challenge of this job site was the busyness of Khandallah Main Street and a severe lack of carparks in the area. The Roofing team kept health and safety at the forefront of their mind, minimising any potential hazards for the community, and carpooling where possible.

At the end of each day, Orkney Roofing presented the client with a detailed progress and quality assurance report including photos and comments of work done on the roof. The client was pleased to be able to see and understand in detail everything that was taking place. Check out more images here.


Orkney painters working on the front facade of the Khandallah Town Hall

While the roofers were getting on with their part of the project, Orkney Painting & Decorating was called in to repaint the spire on the roof and the full front of the town hall. They approached this task in two stages; Stage 1 included painting all the surfaces including and above the deck and Stage 2 included all surfaces below. The process involved sanding, filling, gapping, priming and then painting the full front elevation of the Hall.

To get around the issue of working in a “high foot-traffic zone” with members of the community still needing access to the Hall, Orkney Painting used cones and cone bars to create delineation between work zones and public access areas. They also deployed “spotters” to watch out for pedestrians and to alert the team to stop work when required.


Completed front facade of the Khandallah Town Hall, painted by Orkney Painting & Decorating

The Painting team invited a Resene expert to colour-match on-site, ensuring the right paint colours were used for the project. All weatherboards were painted in Thorndon Cream, the deck handrails and planter boxes in ½ Grey Friars, the windows and doors in Pioneer Red and everything else in ½ Black White. The sign writing was done in Deep Black. You can see more of the work completed by the painting team, here.


It is so exciting to see the new life that has been breathed back into this century-old building. Renamed “The Khandallah Town Hall Centre”, this building now incorporates the Cornerstone Community Centre which has been in operation since around 1981 and provides activities and services that meet the current needs of the community.


The Khandallah Town Hall re-roof and new paint job has breathed new life back into this building that had been almost unnoticed for half a century. Orkney Group are so pleased to have played a part in keeping this piece of history alive!

Orkney Group also provides building, roofing & waterproofing, painting & decorating services to commercial and residential properties. If you live in the wider Wellington region and need any of these services, we would love to help you! Contact us at






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