Doctors, clerks and the war effort



Painted sign that reads Visitors are respectfully requested not to deface the walls of this building by writing. By Order: CEO Perry, Town Hall.

A rather ironic sign painted on the wall outside the Town Clerk’s office on the third floor.


The Morton Room is named in honour of town clerk George Fredrick Morton. The town clerk had an enormous task, which involved managing and maintaining the records relating to the town council, issuing permits and licences and overseeing various municipal activities. George Morton worked for Ballarat Council for 50 years and spent 35 of them as town clerk. George retired from office in 1949 and received an Order of the British Empire for his service to the people of Ballarat.1 This room was for a time the town clerk’s office, along with storage rooms upstairs. At the back of the room, hidden behind a wooden door, there is a steel door leading to a filing room. This room, built of cement blocks and guarded by a metal door, was designed to protect important municipal documents in the event of a fire. 

The room at the eastern end of the building is called the Trench Room.


The name is a reference to fundraising and other activities that took place here during the First World War. The Red Cross met regularly at the Town Hall to pack parcels and sort goods to be sent to the troops fighting overseas. The Trench Room is part of the original police court building that was constructed here in 1860. This was a one-storey building; the floor you are standing on did not exist. Notice the size of the ceiling roses and lights? They used to illuminate the once double-height space. Sometime in the early twentieth century this floor was added, creating a second storey and turning this into a supper room. The ground floor of this newly subdivided space was then leased and occupied for a time by the Royal Bank.2 Outside, on the eastern wall of the building in Town Hall Lane, you can just make out the faded words ‘Royal Bank’. The Royal Bank was not the only tenant, however. The Commercial Bank of Australia leased the Armstrong Street corner for almost 100 years, before vacating it in 1965.3



[1] The Argus, 30 November 1949, p. 12; ‘Morton, George Fredrick’, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet,, accessed 12 June 2018.

[2] Lovell, 1995, p. 72.

[3] ‘Town Hall & Alfred Bells’, Ballarat Revealed,, accessed 12 June 2018.