Centenary of Harbors Board BuildingPrint Page Print this page


Photographs supplied by Stephen Warren

The plaque commemorates the centenary of the former Harbors Board building.

Only the facade and one room in depth remain of this once exquisite building. The facade was the subject of a unique engineering feat for South Australia in 1979 when it was moved to its present site 34 metres to the north of the old site to make way for the SGIC building. The four storey building was originally constructed for the National Mutual Life Assurance of Australia (NMLA) in 1884 and reflected the financial optimism of the period, just before South Australia plunged into a depression. The NMLA company first opened in Melbourne in 1869, commencing operations in Adelaide in 1878.

The Victorian elegance of the building still attracts attention. The architects were Cumming and Davies and the builder was James Shaw. The classical design was described at the time as 'Italian'. The roof is unique to Adelaide, 'A French roof . . . with a large square dome in the centre, covered with lead cut to fish-scale pattern, and surmounted by handsome cast-iron cresting and finials surrounding a look-out'. The high standard of the stonework was also much admired. The stone was imported from New South Wales, although it is not certain whether it was 'freestone' from Mossman's quarries in Sydney or Hawkesbury sandstone. Much attention was also given to the interior, with wide, handsome archways and a magnificent 'hanging' spiral staircase of Kapunda marble.

Before the move in 1979 this was dismantled by the Public Buildings Department (now the Department of Housing and Construction) and is presently in storage. The building is best known as the original headquarters of the South Australian Harbors Board (now the Department of Marine and Harbors). The building was bought for that purpose in 1914, soon after the Harbors Board was established under the provisions of the Harbors Act of 1913. This act heralded a significant expansion in state government functions as it provided for public acquisition of wharves, water frontages and other waterfront property and vested control of all harbors in the board. Three storey extensions were made in 1914 to the rear of the building, followed by further extensions in 1945. The Department of Marine and Harbors moved to new headquarters at Port Adelaide in 1979.


Address:201 Victoria Square, Anthony Mason Chambers, Adelaide, 5000
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -34.927924
Long: 138.598964
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Monument Type:Plaque
Monument Theme:Government
Approx. Event Start Date:1884
Approx. Event End Date:1984


Actual Monument Dedication Date:Wednesday 23rd May, 1984
Front Inscription

This plaque was unveiled by Mr. V. P. Kean Chairman of State Government Insurance Commission, on 23rd May 1984 to  mark the centenary of this historic building.

Originally erected 34 metres to the south the building was preserved by moving it bodily to this position on 8th December 1979, prior to the construction of the adjoining S. G. I. C. building.

The 1000 tonne structure was moved on rollers along concrete & steel runway beams using hydraulic rams.

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au