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Civic Collection

The City of Adelaide Civic Collection is the name given to a wide assortment of historic memorabilia, artefacts, and other items accumulated by successive Councils since 1853, some of which are used to decorate the corridors and meeting rooms of the Town Hall.

Many of these items were presented to the City by prominent citizens, others were given to former Mayors and Lord Mayors by visiting dignitaries or royalty, and some were purchased by the Council on account of their historical or sentimental value to the City.

The Civic Collection now consists of more than 2,800 separate items.

Among these are:

  • The Queen Adelaide and Colonel Light relics.
  • Most of the City's public statues, monuments and memorials.
  • A collection of silver plate, much of it given by former Mayors on retirement, among which is the Council's heritage Mayoral Chain and mace used for civic and ceremonial occasions.
  • Gifts presented by Adelaide's Sister Cities around the world.
  • Items of historical and general interest to the City, such as old photographs, maps and diaries acquired either by gift or purchase.

Search Room is open to the public by appointment: 10am-4pm, Tues-Thurs, contact: Phone: (08) 8203 7439 or Email: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

DOWNLOAD: City of Adelaide Civic Collection brochure

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Image: Oil Painting And Collage by James Shaw

Civic Collection Online

A range of items from the City of Adelaide Civic Collection can be viewed by navigating to our search page. At this dedicated Civic Collection site you can search, select and display an image of a Civic Collection item which will also give you a brief description of detail, the item's date, medium and dimensions.

The Civic Collection Online is part of an on-going display program presented by the City of Adelaide Archives.

SEARCH: Search our Civic Collection

Collection Listings

Main List

The following list contains all Civic Collection items held by the City of Adelaide:

More information on Civic Collection listings 

Items on Public Display

The following list contains Civic Collection items which are displayed in the City of Adelaide:

VIEW: Civic Collection item list

Colonel William Light's Artefacts

The following list contains Civic Collection items relating to Colonel William Light. A majority of these items are available for viewing at the Colonel Light Room in the Adelaide Town Hall.

Town Hall Tours conducted by volunteer guides make items displayed in the Town Hall accessible to visitors. Please contact the Customer Service Centre on 8203 7203 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) for tour information.

READ MORE: More information on Colonel William Light's artefacts

Queen Adelaide

For more information about Adelaide's namesake, Queen Adelaide, please download the following brochure:

DOWNLOAD: The Life and Times of Queen Adelaide 

Victoria Cross Medal

In September 1972 City of Adelaide was given a Victoria Cross (VC) medal to display in the Council Chamber at the Adelaide Town Hall. The VC had been won by Reginald Roy Inwood during the First World War.

Roy Inwood

Reginald Roy Inwood was born on 14 July 1890 at North Adelaide, the eldest of three sons of labourer Edward Inwood and his wife Mary. The family later moved to Broken Hill where Roy Inwood grew up and began working in the local mines. In August 1914 he enlisted in the AIF, 10th Infantry Battalion of the Royal South Australian Regiment (‘The Adelaide Rifles’).

Roy Inwood won the VC for his actions at the Battle for the Menin Road, Polygon Wood, East of Ypres, Belgium on 21 September 1917, when he was credited with single-handedly wiping out an enemy machine-gun position.

After the War Roy Inwood returned briefly to Broken Hill before moving to Adelaide where he was employed by the City of Adelaide as a labourer and lavatory attendant from 1928 until 1955. He married three times but had no children. He died on 23 October 1971, at Tara Private Hospital, St Peters.

Roy Inwood was accorded a full military funeral and was buried in the AIF section of West Terrace Cemetery.

VC Donation

In his will Roy Inwood bequeathed all his war medals to the ‘10th Battalion Club’. They intended to hand the VC to the Australian War Memorial, but Roy Inwood was not in favour of this preferring that his medal remain in Adelaide. So in June 1971 the Battalion decided, with Roy Inwood’s consent, to present the VC to the City of Adelaide ‘to be displayed in a position of dignity’ in the Council Chamber close to where the Battalion’s flags were laid up.

It was considered appropriate for the Council to have the VC because Roy Inwood had worked for it for so long. There was also a traditional link between the City and the 10th Battalion in which he had served. It therefore seemed fitting for the City to be given custody of its most celebrated war hero’s highly prized war medal.

The VC was presented to the City of Adelaide on 25 September 1972 and accessioned into the City of Adelaide Civic Collection.

VC Display

Roy Inwood’s VC was displayed in the Council Chamber from 1972 until 1989 when it was decided to place the original VC in secure storage and display a replica of the medal in its place in the Chamber. This was prompted by concerns for the security of the original medal, and followed extensive conjecture in the media about the rising value of these precious medals.

Displaying a replica in place of an original is appropriate best-practice curatorial management often employed by museums and galleries to reduce risk to extremely valuable collection items. The real VC was stored in the high security vault at the Council’s Archives until such time as more adequate security could be provided for it to be permanently displayed in the Council Chamber.

During 2005 the display of Roy Inwood’s original VC medal became the subject of considerable media and community interest and debate. Some parties called for the medal to be sent to the Australian War Memorial in Canberra to be displayed in its national VC’s Collection. The Council consulted extensively with the Inwood family and other stakeholders about what should happen to the VC. The majority believed Roy Inwood’s dying wishes must be honoured and that the medal should remain in South Australia and be returned to the Council Chamber where he had originally intended it be displayed.

In December 2005, therefore, Council decided to allocate funds for the purpose of strengthening security in the Council Chamber to permit the VC to be returned there.

VC Medals

The Victoria Cross medal is the highest and most prestigious award for gallantry in wartime in the British Commonwealth.

The VC has its origins in the Crimean War 1854-6, the first medals being awarded by Queen Victoria in 1857 for conspicuous bravery or some other act of pre-eminent valour or self -sacrifice or extreme devotion to duty in the face of the enemy.

The VC was designed, and has only ever been made by, London jewellers Hancock and Co. It is cast in metal taken from Russian guns captured during the Crimean War (although during and after the First World War it is fairly certain that metal from captured Chinese guns was used for a short period). The metal is then chased and finished by hand and the components of the decoration treated chemically to obtain the uniform dark brown finish.

The Cross is 3.49cm wide and, together with the suspender bar and link, weighs about 24.66gm, although chasing and finishing may cause slight variation in these figures.

Details of the recipient are engraved in capital letters on the reverse of the suspender bar, and the date or dates of the act of gallantry in the centre circle of the reverse of the Cross.

Because of the nature of the award, it can be conferred on an individual posthumously

Australian VCs

A total of 96 VCs have been awarded to Australians for bravery in battle since the South African War 1899 -1902. Of these 59 are on permanent display to the public at the Australian War Memorial’s Hall of Valour.

Roy Inwood’s medal is the only VC out of the five won by South Australians during the 1914-18 War to remain in South Australia.

For details of VCs awarded to Australians see the book by Anthony Staunton, Victoria Cross. Australia’s Finest and the Battles They Fought (Hardie Grant Books, Prahran, 2005).

Victoria Cross medal awarded to Private Reginald Roy Inwood

“For most conspicuous bravery and devotion to duty during the advance to the third objective. He moved forward through our barrage alone to an enemy strong post and captured it, together with nine prisoners, killing several of the enemy. During the evening he volunteered for a special all-night patrol, which went out 600 yards in front of our line, and there, by his coolness and sound judgment obtained and sent back very valuable information as to the enemy movements. In the morning of the 21st September, Private Inwood located a machine-gun which was causing several casualties. He went out alone and bombed the gun and team, killing all but one whom he brought in as a prisoner with the gun.”

(London Gazette, 26 November 1917).

Want to Know More?

If you would like more information about the Victoria Cross or the City of Adelaide Civic Collection please contact us.

Photographs sourced from the Australian War Memorial, Canberra, and the City of Adelaide Civic Collection.

The Cotton Collection

The City Archives holds the private papers of George Witherage Cotton (1821 – 1892) an early Adelaide landbroker and estate agent, who became a Member of the Legislative Council in 1882. Amongst other things he was a strong supporter for the establishment of “Working Men’s Blocks” to enable working class men to take up holdings of crown waste lands at reduced rent.

The Cotton Collection consists of 17 boxes of records relating to G. W. Cotton’s business activities – leases, agreements, journals and ledgers, sales brochures, property notices and certificates, and other documents about surveying and sales of land and properties in the mid to late 19th century  – along with a collection of maps and plans.

These records were discovered in September 1974 by building contractors during renovation of Queens Chambers hidden behind a bricked up wall which they were demolishing. Cotton had at one time eased the Queens Chambers as his business premises.

More information about G.W.Cotton and the contents of the collection can be viewed here:

DOWNLOAD TO VIEW: List of Cotton Collection Items in Queens Chambers Offices Occupied by G.W. Cotton (George Witherage Cotton) 

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