Original Billiards Room — M508North Wing, Main Floor
Room M508, or the original Billiards Room, constitutes a central room of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Refreshment Rooms of Provisional Parliament House and was an integral part of the building’s early design and development. Located in the South wing of the building, the Refreshment Rooms consist of various separate dining and bar facilities and this reflects the stratification of various classes of occupants of the building, especially in its early life when women, kitchen and waiting staff, and senior officers such as the Clerks of the House of Representatives and the Senate, all had separate dining rooms. The various facilities of the Refreshment rooms were also vital if the building was to be fully self-contained as originally intended.
Like much of Provisional Parliament House, room M508 was designed by the Commonwealth’s first government architect, John Smith Murdoch, and though somewhat altered, it still displays the form, massing and style of the Inter War Stripped Classical style of the 1927 building. The rooms tend to be simple spaces with understated decoration. Subtle and repeated classical references, such as the use of Greek decorative elements and patterning, are found in these interiors.
Room M508 was initially utilised as a billiard room, however it was converted to a dining room in 1947. In 1954 it was further converted to a Members’ guest dining room. The room has a distinctive and dramatic character with red face brick walls, stained timber skirtings, doors and ceiling, decorative metal and glass skylights, and decorative light fittings. Consequently, the interior of Room M508 is unlike any other room within the Old Parliament House building. The changes which were undertaken in room M508 are not uncommon for the building and reflect its changing nature since it was opened in 1927.