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Senate Chamber Writing Slope #1999-1434Senate Chamber, North Wing, Main Floor

Blackwood writing slope with a plain moulded sloped top; grooved recesses on top, hinged lid with red leather inset writing surface, on a plain moulded base; amplification unit added later.


This Senate Chamber writing slope is still located in the Senate Chamber where it was used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1927 and 1988. This writing slope was designed in 1926 by the Federal Capital Commission Architects Department, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. Murdoch’s design for this writing slope and the other Chamber furniture was inspired by the Westminster system of Parliament and the green and red colours of the two Chambers reflect the colour scheme of the lower and upper houses in the British House of Commons. This writing slope was most likely manufactured by Beard Watson and Co Ltd using blackwood and leather supplied by Howe Bros of Preston, Victoria.

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Statement of values

This Senate Chamber writing slope is a significant item of furniture through its association with the Senate Chamber. The Senate has outstanding significance as a venue for the debates, petitions and votes associated with sixty-one years of Australian legislature, and recognisable by its red upholstery. This writing slope was used in the Senate between 1927 and 1988, associating it with significant people in Australian political history, while also reflecting the formal and adversarial nature of debate, and the role of the Senate in the parliamentary process.

This Senate Chamber writing slope is significant as a component of the Heritage Collection, which comprises those pieces of furniture which were used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1924 and 1988. The collection has associations with the process of government, the ceremonial, administrative, promotional and recreational functions conducted within the building, and with the individuals who governed Australia between 1927 and 1988. The building is a primary example of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of architecture prominent in Canberra’s government architecture of the 1920s to 1940s. The characteristic expression of the building’s style is due to the design work of the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch. The Old Parliament House building has a richness of internal fabric and collections, which include the purpose designed furniture and furnishings, that convey the way in which parliamentary functions were conducted, the everyday use of the building, and the hierarchical nature of parliamentary staffing practices. This furniture is significant as it has remained within the building for which it was designed.

  • Senate Chamber Writing SlopeSenate Chamber Writing Slope —


Width 490mm
Height 440mm
Depth 375mm
Medium Blackwood; timber; leather
Creator’s name Unknown, probably Federal Capital Commission Architects Department
Date created Circa 1927