The Carillon Tower is an interactive monument which was erected next to the Ballarat City Hall complex in 1988 to mark the Australian Bicentenary and was built to exhibit the restored carillon which dating back to 1869 is the oldest Australia and the only municipal carillon and monument of its kind in the country.
The tower was built to exhibit the Carillon (a musical instrument made from bells) which was, from 1873, a feature of the new Town Hall’s tower.1 Ballarat’s Carillon featured machinery including a rotating drum and 15 different bells intended to automate the playing of a different melody each day of the week. The original drum was wooden, however this was replaced by a metal drum. By the 1930s, the equipment was no longer in use2 and its restoration was debated for more than five decades.
The postmodern style tower which forms the monument is topped by a pyramid roof and finial reminiscent of Italianate architecture. The open frame of circular steel columns harbours the bells below which sits the small brick rotunda with glass pane viewing area that houses the drum, machinery and electric motor that enables to chimes on the hour between 8am and 8pm every day.
The Carillon itself date back to 1869, with the machinery and bells purchased from English manufacturers Moore & Sons and Mears & Stairbank respectively. The bells were recast in 1983 to account for a century long error in the supply which originally called for 16 bells.3
The tower was funded by the Australian government, with contributions from the local organisations including the council and rotary.
The tower is situated within HO104, a special heritage overlay for the Town Hall complex, which has a Victorian Heritage listing providing it with state heritage protection. Although the listing does not cover the structure of the Carillon Tower itself.