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House of Representatives Timer #1999-0442House of Representatives Chamber, North Wing, Main Floor

Blackwood timer box and pigeon hole unit; Simplex timer with moulded wooden surround inset into right hand cavity, louvred panel at rear, and recessed top; open book rack on left hand side above a pigeon hole unit; set on a moulded base.


The timer is still located in the House of Representatives Chamber where it was used in the Provisional Parliament House between 1927 and 1988. It was designed in 1926 by the Architects Department of the Federal Capital Commission, led by principal architect John Smith Murdoch, specifically for Provisional Parliament House. Murdoch’s design for the Chamber furniture was inspired by the Westminster system of Parliament. When Parliament was in session this timer was controlled by the Clerk to assist in timing the speeches of Members.

This piece was manufactured by Beard Watson & Co Ltd out of blackwood.

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Statement of values

The House of Representatives Chamber timer is significant as the only piece of this design to have survived.

The timer is a significant item of furniture through its association with the House of Representatives Chamber. The House of Representatives has outstanding significance as a venue for the debates, petitions and votes associated with sixty-one years of Australian legislature, and recognisable by its green upholstery. The timer was used in the House of Representatives 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 House of Representatives in the parliamentary process.

The House of Representatives timer 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 House, 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.

  • House of Representatives Timer - Image from the Old Parliament House CollectionHouse of Representatives Timer - Image from the Old Parliament House Collection


Width 965mm
Height 320mm
Depth 445mm
Medium Blackwood; metal
Creator’s name John Smith Murdoch
Date created Circa 1927