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Memorial Hall - ‘the spirit of Scotch’

WORDS: MR DAVID ASHTON

With its foundation stone laid on 5 March 1920 by the great Sir John Monash (1881), Memorial Hall is an iconic building at Scotch in the true sense of the word. It has immense spiritual, sentimental and utilitarian meaning to generations of Scotch boys and their families. As the school history of 1926 predicted, ‘the memorial Hall was destined to become the spirit of Scotch’.

Maintenance currently under way on Mem Hall is essential to the preservation of the hall’s beautiful stained glass and leadlight windows and their surrounds. Scotch sought advice from heritage adviser Donald Ellsmore Pty Ltd on repairing and reinstating the window tracery, including advice on methods of restoring the cement plaster on the buttresses and the colours which should be used.

The restoration is being done by Cathedral Stone, which several years ago extensively restored stonework on St Paul’s Cathedral in Melbourne. Simultaneously, Geoffrey Wallace Stained Glass is carrying out repairs where necessary on Mem Hall’s stained glass windows. Once the exterior treatment is complete, the interior window mouldings and renderings will be restored.

Under the supervision of Scotch’s Property Manager, Bill Sciarretta, considerable work has been done in recent years to maintain, restore and enhance the 89-year-old building. Intensive restoration took place in 2003 and 2004, when a magnificent organ, originally installed in the Presbyterian Assembly Hall in Scots Church, Sydney, was relocated to Mem Hall, and rehabilitation continues. Work has included:

  • removing the unsightly square organ loft on the southern side of the building;
  • renewing the hall’s downpipes and drainage, restoring mortar joints in the brickwork and protecting the brickwork against rising damp;
  • reconstructing and replanting the garden beds;
  • rewiring the entire hall, and installing up-to-date fire detection equipment and energy-efficient lighting;
  • sanding and polishing the floor and recoating all wood panelling.

Every member of the Scotch Family has their own special memories of Memorial Hall. As well as a revered memorial to the Old Scotch boys who fell in two world wars, it is also a treasure house of Scotch College heritage and tradition. Ongoing maintenance is helping to preserve ‘the spirit of Scotch’ for decades to come. GS

Updated: Monday 24 June 2013