Issue 4: 7 March 2008

clocktower-opening2
The opening of the Clock Tower building (then known as the Arts Building and Student Block) 12 March 1926. Photo: University of Auckland History Series, Further Papers 1890-1995, University of Auckland Library Special Collections

Fourth Retrospective column published in the University News, 7 March, 2008

This column commemorates the opening of the Clock Tower building on 12 March 1926. The extracts were taken from the New Zealand Herald, 13 March 1926, p. 13.

'New Arts Building - Opening by Governor - A Memorable Event'

What is by common consent the beginning of a new era for the Auckland University College was celebrated yesterday, when the new Arts Building was officially opened by His Excellency the Governor General Sir Charles Fergusson, at the largest gathering that has ever witnessed a university ceremony in Auckland.

The Hon. George Fowlds, president of the college, who presided, said the presence of Their Excellencies and of so large a gathering of citizens emphasised that the opening ceremony was an important event in the history of Auckland. "We are compelled to admit," he went on, "that the people of Auckland have been backward in their appreciation of the importance and value of university education. Great progress in this respect has been made in recent years, and I am convinced that the provision of this fine commodious building in which to carry on the work will complete the process and that henceforth Auckland will take its rightful place in the leadership of the Dominion in higher education, as she does in so many other respects.

"…we have been exceedingly fortunate in the appointment of our architects, and in spite of a great deal of criticism the public of Auckland is now beginning to realise that this is one of the outstanding pieces of architecture in the Dominion." (Applause.)

The architect, Mr R. A. Lippincott, in presenting His Excellency with a gold key said he and his partner, Mr Bilson, had given their best efforts in the past five years to provide the Auckland University College with more than a mere shelter. His Excellency unveiled a commemorative tablet in the outer wall, and then unlocked the front door. He was followed into the building by the invited guests and hundreds of the general public, who spent the next hour roaming through the corridors and rooms.

'Like a Fairy Palace - The College at Night - Floodlights Illumine Tower'

The much-criticised tower of the new University building took on a new and, to many eyes, a delightful appearance last evening. To mark the formal inauguration, a small battery of floodlights was placed round the tower’s base throwing into sharp relief the elaborate ornamentation of tracery and crocketed pinnacles. Seen from Symonds Street across its expanse of terraced grounds, the building looked more like a fairy-tale palace than a home of traditional learning. The students, by way of a house-warming, held a dance in the new hall, over a hundred couples taking part. A good number of graduates attended in gowns and hoods. Supper was served in the club-house, and everybody had a most enjoyable time.