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History

Cambridge Town Hall

Iconic then and now

Since 1909, Cambridge Town Hall has served as an important space in the heart of the rohe for all of our people to gather, share, celebrate and create. Times have changed, but the Hall remains welcoming and open to everyone.

Grand Designs

Designed by architect A. B. Herrold and built on the site of the old Cambridge saleyards, the Town Hall was constructed by Chappell & Wooley and opened in 1909 by Mayor W. F. Buckland. American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie granted the Borough Council the sum of one thousand pounds to create a library, which remained at the Town Hall until 1977 (it has since been greatly expanded, and eventually moved to Wilson Street in 1998).

Serving the community
for over a century

The hall is a category-two historic building owned by Waipa District Council and recognised as significant by Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga. Since 1909, the Cambridge Town Hall has served multiple generations and will continue to welcome many more. Over the years, we’ve had the pleasure of hosting distinguished guests, political figures, sporting heroes, members of royalty and many treasured local characters.

Your place to remember

Providing Solace in Difficult Times

In 1916 an ANZAC day commemoration was held here to mark the first anniversary of ANZAC troops landing on the Gallipoli Peninsula in Turkey, and remembrance services continue to be held annually in our piazza. Between October and December 1918 New Zealand lost almost half as many people to influenza as it had in the whole of the First World War. During the epidemic, the Town Hall was converted into a temporary hospital - a move which is believed to have saved lives.

The Town Hall Talkies

In the early years, animated pictures were shown at the Hall, accompanied by the local orchestra. In 1929 Cambridge was the envy of many other towns when it first showed a talking movie, and the “Town Hall Talkies” soon became a huge regional attraction. Later, the Prince William Theatre operated as a popular cinema at the Hall from 1982-1989.

Image source: Cambridge Museum

Guests of Distinction

It was an honour for Cambridge when the Māori Queen, Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu, attended a social at the Town Hall in February 1972. The Hall has also enjoyed several visits from members of the British monarchy over the years; The Prince of Wales (later King Edward VIII visited in 1920, Queen Elizabeth II came as part of her first tour of New Zealand in 1954, with Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visiting in 1967 and Princess Anne in 1974. More recently, the Prince and Princess of Wales (William and Catherine) visited the Town Hall in 2014 and paid their respects at the War Memorial. Other distinguished guests have included former Prime Ministers Sir John Key and Dame Jacinda Ardern.

Image source: Cambridge Museum

Serving the people of Waipa

The Town Hall has always been an important central hub in the heart of Cambridge, initially hosting civic meetings, political debates, flower shows, debutante balls, choir festivals and indoor sports. These days, community events such as the Rotary Book Fair, the Cambridge Christmas Festival, the Waipa Network Business Awards and the Cambridge Autumn Festival bring locals together and attract visitors from much further afield. The current event line-up includes art and photography exhibitions, orchestral performances, lively jazz, blues and country music, dance and craft events.

Cambridge Town Hall remains available for hire by local groups and for corporate or civic meeting, trade shows, parties, dances, weddings and other events, and we welcome you to become part of our history.

Image source: Cambridge Museum


Historical Timeline

Restoration & Renovation

As the needs of the people changed, the Town Hall adapted. It has undergone many changes since it was first built; in the 1960s the supper room, kitchen and dressing rooms were enlarged, a new floor and central heating were installed. In the 1980s the foyer, kitchen supper room and main hall were refreshed, the Prince William Theatre was completed, and the Borough Chambers moved to the Carnegie Library (which was later used as the Community Arts Centre incorporating the Cambridge Museum, and is now the Cambridge i-site).

The Town Hall is well over a century old and retaining its integrity as a Historic Building has remained a priority. It’s time for some new renovations and upgrades to keep pace with the needs of the people of Waipa, and we are actively fundraising to make improvements

With its stunning architecture, air of history, and classic charm, the Cambridge Town Hall is an ideal place to host your special occasion. And in choosing to host your event here, you'll also besupporting the preservation of local history for future generations to come.

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