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Dangarsleigh Hall to celebrate 125 years

A largely unknown fact of the Hillgrove connection to the historic Dangarsleigh Hall is being recognised with a 125 year celebration event on Saturday 20 August from 11.30am.

The story of the hall does not commence in Dangarsleigh on the outskirts of Armidale but in the historic gold rush town of Hillgrove east of Armidale in 1897. The Hillgrove settlement exploded after gold was accidentally discovered by George Smith, manager of the Garibaldi Mine in 1887. The building of St Michael’s Catholic Church was followed by a small convent for three sisters of St Joseph in 1891. A school was immediately opened in the convent with 70 students, which grew to 210 and a larger building known today as the Dangarsleigh Hall was needed.

From a booming town of 3000, the fortunes of Hillgrove took a downturn with World War One and the decline of the mining boom of the 1890s. By 1920 many miners and their families had gone, businesses and services closed and buildings were being dismantled. The convent closed, the nuns left and in 1922 builder G Collins purchased and dismantled the school building.

The Dangarsleigh community grew after sales of a 73 lot subdivision of farmland ranging in size from 40 to 360 acres in 1909. Families taking up these small holdings soon had a school and church and when the opportunity arose to purchase the Hillgrove convent school building, the Dangarsleigh Hall Committee was formed. One acre of land adjoining the church and school was donated as the site for a hall. The dismantled Hillgrove Convent School of St Josephs was purchased for 790 pounds and reconstructed. From completion in 1922 the Dangarsleigh School of Arts Hall hosted regular events.

President of the Armidale and District Historical Society and long-term resident of Dangarsleigh Judy Grieve said the hall building has a unique history and has played an important role in the social fabric of Hillgrove, Dangarsleigh and Kelly’s Plains.

“Another little-known claim to fame for the building when it was the convent school in Hillgrove is that Mary McKillop, on a visit to Hillgrove in 1896 responded to the need for a large new school building,” said Judy Grieve

“Once the building was re-erected as the Dangarsleigh Hall it was the hub of the community for many years and the place to be for the Dangarsleigh School and surrounding community. I remember attending dances, sports days, concerts and parties that were so much fun and provided an opportunity for the small community to gather and celebrate.”

Planned activities at the Dangarsleigh Hall commence from 11.30am on Saturday 20 August and include: 

  • Dress -up (children and adults)

  • Lions Club sausage sizzle from 11.30am

  • Children's old-fashioned games

  • Veteran and vintage cars

  • Display of horse equipment

  • Armidale Pipe Band

  • Photographic display

  • Children's art display

  • From 1.30pm in the Hall

  • The story of the Hall

  • Musical performances

  • Unveiling of a 'Timeline' Noticeboard

  • Cutting of anniversary cake

  • High Tea

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