Featured property: Broken Hill Post Office, NSW
Broken Hill Proprietary Company Limited was established in 1885 and operated the silver and lead mines in the area. Soon after the town of Broken Hill which is located in the far west outback of New South Wales, began to rapidly develop.
Before the Post Office was constructed, the town's first storekeeper, Walter Sully, operated a postal service from his store. In January 1886 the first Post Office, a small building attached to Sully's General Store, opened for business. In August 1886, a telegraph station was later established and operated out of the Post Office.
By the end of 1886, Broken Hill's population had risen to 3,000, and the Post Office building was no longer adequate for the bustling mining town.
Initially, the Postmaster-General's Department was reluctant to approve the construction of a large office due to the uncertainty of Broken Hill's future. However by October 1888 the Department had accepted Broken Hill's permanency and plans were drawn up by the Colonial Architects Office under James Barnet, for a large office, with residence attached. The initial plans were rejected on the grounds of being too small and it was not until 11 November 1889 that the final plans were accepted.
In early 1890 companies were invited to respond to the tender for the construction of the Post Office. By May 1892, the building was completed and opened for business. The clock was installed in the tower in the early 1900s and opened in 1902.
Over a year prior to completion, on 26 February 1891, the Silver Age reported: "Externally the most imposing feature is the tower, and this being built in the Queen Anne style, will be somewhat of a novelty in Broken Hill. There is an immense amount of workmanship to be expended on it and, being 86 feet in height, it will be altogether an elaborate affair. There will be a balcony along the front of the structure and around the tower, whilst the whole building is encircled with a verandah excepting a few feet facing Chloride Street, which is left open to admit to the stairway."
"In the centre of the front to Argent Street will be a magnificent circular porch, and the central entrance door...It will be made of cedar with stained glass and panelled throughout. This door will lead to the public lobbies on their right hand of the Post Office, and on the left is the telegraph department...The front windows of the Post Office will be fitted with private letter boxes, and on the side facing Chloride Street there will be three delivery windows."
"The interiors of both buildings are well fitted up, the Post Office having a stamp delivery office and a counter for Money Orders etc, whilst the window and receiving counter in the Telegraph Department will be composed of cedar. These two rooms will each by 27½ feet by 17½ feet, with a height of 16 feet. Next behind there comes a dining room and beyond a cedar stairway with oriel doorways leading into the second storey. There is also a kitchen to each department. Then comes the lavatories with shower baths etc., the battery room and a room for the night clerk at the telegraph office. On the top floor there will be 8 rooms in each department."