The lands and waters of the Djiringanj people include the northern shoreline of Lake Merimbula, where middens reflect thousands of years of First Nations people gathering here to fish, hunt, meet, share food, dance and sing. We pay our respects to the Elders past, present and emerging and to all First Nations people who continue to gather in this place.
A trust was established when a title of land was donated by Merimbula resident J.W.Twyford in 1931, who had been raised in the seaside village from his childhood years, for the purpose of building a community Hall.
With a population of only around 150 people, the Merimbula community built the hall in 6 months after the tireless efforts of the committee to raise enough money for its construction. It was built during the depression, through Merimbula residents’ tenacity to achieve their vision.
Since 2022 The Twyford has been a fully managed and promoted performing arts complex, programming professional touring acts as well as community events.
The Twyford Hall was officially opened in December 1931, a grand occasion with people travelling from all over the district to join in on the celebrations.
The war years ensued, and soldiers were treated to fond farewells and welcome home parties at the hall. This was followed by annual ANZAC services after the war for many years to follow, with ANZAC memorial plaques placed at the front of the hall. It was also used as a safe haven for the survivors of the American shipwreck, the SS William Dawes, with locals providing food, warm clothing and shelter.
In the 1950s, the ballet classes held at the hall that were so popular they were attended by almost every girl, and one boy from the area. They would rehearse and perform at great productions held at the hall attended by many in the community. Since then, the hall has been used for a diverse range of purposes, from church functions and Santa appearances to debates, business dinners, weddings, craft markets, art exhibitions live music, book launches and community theatre.
Twyford Hall Timeline
- Trust established when Title of land transferred from J.W.Twyford.
- Trustees J.W.Twyford, Sydney Ford & E.T.Boller
- Tenders open in June.
- Construction over 6 months.
- Opening of the Hall at 10pm on 9 December 1931 by Mr W.W. Hedges MLA, following a Grand Ball with the Imperial Dance Band, a special Ball Supper served in unique cabaret style, and the presentation of debutantes. Gents pay 5 shillings, Ladies 2/6.
- Mrs Twyford makes a bequest for a front porch, two small rooms and a Supper Room to be built from proceeds.
- Plans and specifications for the Twyford Hall memorial wing supplied by R. Thatcher of Bega.
- The Soldiers Memorial Wing is erected by Jack Pike and opened on the 15th December 1962 in addition to the Porch, funded by a bequest from Mrs Sarah Twyford, in memory of the Merimbula Soldiers who served in World War One. Honour Rolls from both World Wars are located on the front of the building.
- Anzac Day services held in front of Hall 19(photo courtesy Christine Kaine)
- Trust transferred to Shire of Imlay
- New Constitution adopted:
- The name of the Hall shall be “ Twyford Hall”
- The object of the Hall shall be to provide a place of public entertainment, social functions, meetings, the delivery of lectures, church services and for such other purposes as the management committee may from to time decide.
- Imlay Shire amalgamated and Bega Valley Shire becomes the Trustee.
- Land remains “community land”
- S 355 Committee set up to manage Hall
- Plans for new theatre drawn up.
- Town Centre Studies recommend Twyford Hall be pulled down.
- Long history of community involvement with no Government funding.
- Retail Shops built next to Hall with Loan Funds from Council
- Development Application for Theatre Twyford approved
- Shop building Loan Repaid to Council
- Twyford Hall Incorporated as an association
- Twyford Hall Plan of Management approved by Council
- Construction begins on Toilet facilities of new complex.
- Management Agreement between Council and Twyford Hall Incorporated signed.
- Commercial kitchen refurbishment designed by Michael Marshmann opened by The Hon Mr Andrew Constance, Member for Bega and Minister for Infrastructure and Transport. Built at a cost of $150,000, with $50,000 from the NSW Govt Community Building Partnership scheme, $6,600 from Bega Valley Shire Council, $3700 from Bendigo Bank Pambula and remaining funds from retail shops’ rent.
- Announcement by NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional Development, John Barilaro and Bega MP Andrew Constance that the NSW State Government will grant $7.4 million from the Regional Communities Development Fund to build the new Theatre Twyford.
- Funds released by NSW Government to enable Theatre Twyford building project to commence.
- Donald Cant Watts Corke appointed as Project Managers for the theatre building project.
- Winning Building tender Monarch Building Solutions announced in December 2019 by Member for Bega The Hon Andrew Constance MP as Monarch Building Solutions. Deputy Mayor Sharon Tapscott and THI President Bill Deveril were also present.
- Severe bushfires result in the evacuation of areas around Merimbula and the enforced exclusion of tourists to the region, causing the cancellation of several events at the Hall over the summer.
- The contract for the new theatre construction is signed on 4 March by THI President Bill Deveril (L) and Public Officer Bernard Shea (R) with Vice President Charles Cooper.
- Over the month of March, the demolition of the old toilet brick toilet block and green room is completed and the Hall stage is shortened to allow builders access to the rear of the hall and to build a new truck-accessible loading dock. The supper room is also shortened to make way for a new fire sprinkler pump room on the south west corner of the Hall.
- Construction begins and the concrete foundations of the new theatre are poured on 29 April.
- The Hall’s box office becomes the new electrical switchboard room and the bio box becomes the Tech Room for the entire complex.
- The COVID-19 pandemic forces the closure of almost all public buildings and many businesses from 23 March 2020 including Twyford Hall. Construction of the theatre continues where possible with appropriate social distancing and hygiene measures.
- At its Annual General Meeting, THI members vote in favour of transferring from an incorporated association to a not-for-profit company limited by guarantee registered with the ACNC, in view of the increasing assets under management of the entity in line with Fair Trading NSW’s recommendations.
- Construction work continues on the new theatre. COVID restrictions and a state-wide lockdown cause more disruptions and cancellations of events.
- Work is paused on the site until permits for services connections can be resolved.
- The transfer to a company limited by guarantee is completed and THI becomes The Twyford Hall Complex Limited.
- The new Board meets for the first time on 6 September 2021. Board members are Frankie J Holden OAM (Chair), Greg Brackenreg (Company Secretary), Lucas Scarpin (CFO), Helen O’Neil, Christine Kaine, Charles Cooper and John Beever.
- The Twyford receives a grant of $72000 from the NSW government to upgrade stage lighting and sound in the heritage listed Hall as well arts grants of $30000 from Live Music Australia and $191910 from the federal Office of the Arts to assist with presenting live music and touring theatre shows in the venue when COVID pandemic restrictions permit.
- The Hall reopens for limited events in November 2021.
- High speed NBN fibre to the premises is installed in readiness for the new Theatre.
- The Hall sound and lighting upgrade is completed with new power and communications cabling connecting the stage and new Tech Room (old biobox) and a new Tech position at the rear of the Hall auditorium. The Hall Stage area modified during the adjacent theatre build receives a new ceiling and is repainted.