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Jubilee Exhibition Building

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Status  Demolished
Demolished  1962
Destruction date  1962
Construction started  1885
Completed  1887
Opened  20 June 1887
Cost  20,217 GBP (1887)
Jubilee Exhibition Building sahistoryhubcomausitesdefaultfilesstylesgal
Location  North Terrace, Adelaide
Similar  Adelaide Town Hall, State Library of South Au, Victoria Square - Adelaide, Adelaide railway station, Rundle Mall

The Jubilee Exhibition Building was built to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Queen Victoria's accession to the throne on 20 June 1837. The jubilees of her Coronation on 28 June 1838, and of the Proclamation of South Australia on 28 December 1836, were also invoked on occasion.


Jubilee Exhibition Building Jubilee Exhibition Building Adelaide Photograph State Library

The building was located on what is now the University of Adelaide's North Terrace campus, between Bonython Hall and the School of Mines building (now UniSA's City East campus) at the corner of North Terrace and Frome Road. It was opened on 20 June 1887 and used until the mid 1920s. In 1929 the land and building were transferred to the University, and the building was demolished in 1962 to make way for the Napier building. There were two fountains in front of the building. One is now located in front of the Adelaide Arcade, the other in the Creswell Gardens.


Jubilee Exhibition Building Exhibition Building and Grounds SA History Hub

The idea of South Australia hosting an international exhibition as a patriotic gesture was promoted in the early 1880s, culminating in a Bill which was passed by Parliament in 1883. Subsequent opposition to the scheme on the grounds of the expense involved saw the Bill being repealed in 1884, and Sir Edwin T. Smith pushed for a less grandiose celebration, which resulted in the Act of 1885, and the voting of ₤32,000 for a permanent Exhibition Building, which after the Jubilee would become the home of the South Australian Institute.

Jubilee Exhibition Building Jubilee Exhibition Building Wikipedia

As originally conceived by Government Architect E. J. Woods, the new building was to have a dome 112 feet (34 m) wide, an art gallery, 46 by 252 feet (14 by 77 m), a court 120 by 43 feet (37 by 13 m) with a gallery round it of 10 feet (3.0 m) width. A basement below this section 10 feet (3.0 m) high, three open courts for lighting and ventilation, each 120 by 66 feet (37 by 20 m) by 40 feet (12 m) high. Height of the dome 80 feet (24 m), 127 feet (39 m) from the floor to the crown of the inner dome, and 192 feet (59 m) from the floor line to the apex of the dome externally.

Design and construction

Jubilee Exhibition Building Exhibition Building and Grounds SA History Hub

The architects chosen were Withall & Wells, and W. Rogers the builder. The corner-stone was laid on 21 June 1886. Interest from exhibitors in the lead-up to the Jubilee meant that the building had to be extended during the construction process, but the building was completed, and filled with manufactures and produce from around the globe, within the year, well in time for the opening of the Festival on 21 June 1887. A railway line connecting the Adelaide railway station to the grounds behind the Exhibition Building passed under King William Road and ran between the Parade Grounds and Government House.

Queen Victoria’s Jubilee

Jubilee Exhibition Building Teachers College Scrapbook Archival Allsorts

During the 1887 Jubilee 789,672 visitors passed through the exhibition. The building housed 2,200 exhibitions (valued at approximately £500,000) from 26 different countries. The Adelaide Jubilee International Exhibition was one of few major exhibitions in Australia where all the costs, totalling £66,000, were covered.

Royal Adelaide Show

The Jubilee Exhibition Building and Jubilee Oval was the home of the Royal Adelaide Show from 1895 to 1925.

Other Uses

Hospital during the Spanish Flu Pandemic. Residence for homeless people during later years.


The building was demolished in 1962. It made way for Taib Mahmud Court, the Napier building, Adelaide Law School and the Adelaide Law School car park.


Jubilee Exhibition Building Wikipedia

Similar Topics
Adelaide Town Hall
Adelaide railway station
Rundle Mall