A building to embrace all aspects of the Siege Precinct Feasibility Study final report by
Sinclair Knight Merz. For evaluation by the project lead agency, 'The Rural City of
Wangaratta', with the project Steering Committee comprising representatives from the
Glenrowan Community - Glenrowan Improvers Planning Committee, Heritage Victoria.
Tourism Victoria, Victorian Police Museum, Public Record Office.



In late July 2003 I was contacted by Bill Denheld, a family friend,
who told me of his excitement about building a site model for a proposed
Ned Kelly Centre in Glenrowan. He couldn’t help thinking about what the
building may look like and wondered if I, being an architect, would be interested
in helping put a picture to the words which had already been written about
the proposed Centre. With my love of architecture, great interest in Ned Kelly
and response to challenges, I immediately said that I'd love to help.

Having read the SKM report and visited Glenrowan (20/21 August)
and Stringybark Creek with Bill, a design concept evolved as described below.
Bill and I decided to take the design concept to a stage where we were both
happy with it then present the concept to the Steering Committee,
Glenrowan Improvers, Wangaratta Council and other interested parties as
appropriate. All design and concept work has been done on a voluntary and
goodwill basis. Our intent and efforts are purely to assist the promotion
of a Ned Kelly Centre at Glenrowan.

The work shown and described is copyright and is the intellectual property
of Penleigh Boyd and Bill Denheld. 


The Spirit:

Our aim has been to produce a bold, gimmick free, truly Australian building.
It should be modern, minimal, timeless in style and straightforward.
It should not be distracting, stylized or a pastiche of the 1880's.

The use of a simple palette of all Australian materials: glass, iron, new and recycled
timbers, flagstone paving are envisaged. 

The building should be serene – a place for contemplation – yet stimulating to encourage
interest. There is a dichotomy in the Kelly legend: hero or villain?
The building functions like a courthouse: here is all the information – you, the visitor,
weigh up the evidence.

The Concept:
The concept can be summarised into three key ideas:
1. Siting of the building over the rail tracks
2. Treating the building as four interlinked pavilions - not one container
      3. Providing a lookout tower

1. Siting of the building over the rail tracks.
This bold concept has the following advantages:
      a.  brings the building to the ' ring side' location
      b.  elevates visitors to a comprehensive view over the siege precinct
      c.  lessens the "footprint" on the valuable and relaxing Park area
      d.  integrates the existing overpass with the new development
      e.  removes trains from spoiling the view out from the building
      f.   accommodates and acknowledges the trains – does not simply ignore them
      g.  provides space under the building for shaded car parking and toilets

This panoramic view is taken from the overpass pedestrian station ramp somewhat from a westerly perspective. It is only the North to Easterly views that are relevant for the visitor. The expected view from the proposed building location can be commanding. The yellow
hotspot can be clicked upon to Preview a magnificent view that can be expected from a 26 metre lookout tower.

This view is still 6 metres short, it was taken from the nearby grain silo tower 300 m up the track. You have to imagine a similar but better view from the proposed Ned Kelly Centre located at Lyons Park -but built partially over the rail lines. Click image for larger view.


2.Treating the building as four interlinked pavilions - not a container.

The building houses diverse functions: Commercial, iconic, exhibition, display, food
consumption, conservation, administration, traveling exhibitions, Visitor Information Centre
(optional), etc. etc.  These diverse functions are not all compatible if placed cheek by jowl. 

Some people may see it as inappropriate to commercialise the Kelly myth in the retail area
at the same time as dispassionately communicating the legend through well thought out
and sensitive displays in the Interpretative Hall. However, no-one can deny that the
Centre needs to be commercially viable and a great magnet for tourism.  

Our aim has been to segregate the diverse functions into four distinct realms.
The four interlinked pavilions clearly allow visitor orientation within the building and permit
the creation of the appropriate mood (general ambience, acoustic, lighting) in each zone.
In this way, the varying needs and sensitivities of all stakeholders can be accommodated.

The four pavilions are in themselves symbolic of the Kelly Gang: Ned, Joe, Dan and Steve.

Distances from viewing window,
looking North, 80 metres plus to site of Glenrowan Inn and Ned Kellys capture site 120 metres


3. Providing a lookout tower.
A twenty six meter* high lookout tower with stair and lift access ( lift also services the
ground level car park) is proposed. The lookout concept provides the following exciting

a. Enables visitors to locate Kelly in his country - Jerilderie, that way: Beechworth, over there:
    Greta, over that way: Euroa, over that way, Stringybark Creek south west: Melbourne, back
     that way !  Imagine how exciting it would it would be for visitors to be able to place
    Glenrowan in context with other Kelly activities.
b. Directs people to significant Kelly sites.
c. Provides a ' marker ' for the centre and town ( can be seen from the Hume Freeway )
d. Points out local tourist destinations, Snowfields, Mt Buller, Mt Hotham, Echuca,
    Bailey's, Auldstone and Taminick Winery and others just up the road, Warby Ranges,
    Wombat Ranges, Wangaratta, Benalla, Ovens Valley, Bright, Mt Beauty, etc, etc.
e. Increases tourist appeal to visit the centre.
f.  Makes the Ned Kelly Centre more memorable.
g. An icon.

* ( One meter for every year of Ned's life plus 'one' is envisaged.

The following architectural sketches are form studies for the use of wood, steel and glass.
The light grey surfaces only indicate the form of the building, not necessarily painted surfaces.
They are merely preliminary design sketches. The bold wood elements through out this website
are an indication of the possible buildings design intent. 'Ned' had been a saw miller and a building
concept could reflect and honour the bold non pretentious values of our pioneering saw millers.

(SOUTH VIEW of the building above).  View of proposed Ned Kelly Centre from Gladstone Street.
Note the elevated floor level to bring the building above railway track level. Ramp access is also
available behind the screen wall to the right and lift access for disabled and elderly from the
carpark level. The lift is in one of the legs of the lookout tower. Car parking below the building is
screened to encourage a 19th century feel as one approaches the building (there were no cars
in 1880!). Cars parked as seen at the right of the illustration will not actually be seen. 
 A generous forecourt is provided in front of the building. The forecourt can be used for gatherings,
pageants, street theatre, markets or whatever takes the fancy of the people of Glenrowan.

(NORTH VIEW of the building above). View of the proposed Ned Kelly Centre from Siege Street.
The foreground is to be brought back to1880's railway land of the time, tree stumps,
drainage channels, horse and cart tracks to the station, post and rail fencing and
uninterrupted views of both the site of the Glenrowan Inn and the spot where Ned Kelly
was captured some 120 metres north east.

The Interpretation hall with large viewing window is on the right and the cafe / restaurant is
on the left with sunny outdoor terrace overlooking the siege site. Note the train travelling
under the building, - normally, this train would obliterate views from a building built at ground
level, hence our proposal to build up and over the tracks with a large carpark facility under
the building. The lookout tower is accessed via stairs and lift in the vertical shafts which have
glass inner walls giving a lively view of people ascending and descending from the lookout. 

The following CAD drawing shows the carpark area under the front buildings.
Note the lift from carpark with optional walk ramps. The carpark is intended to be naturally lit.
Safety fences to all track rail zones.


Landscape model;  My original offer to the Glenrowan community to build a landscape model to
evaluate the overpass options has been built, (voluntarily, with hope of eventual remuneration
should funding become available). This offer was welcomed by the Steering Committee and the
model was presented together with the building preliminary design concept
by Penleigh and myself on 8 October 2003.
The submission is being considered by the Glenrowan Master Plan - Planning Committee 
prior to community consultation.

The model below shows the immediate buildings around the centre. Overlaying the model are
clear plastic overpass options for evaluation. (Any buildings not shown that would be relevant
will be added to the model, please advise)

The above model is in three parts to allow easy transportation and storage.
Each part is 60 x100 cm forming a whole assembly 100 x 180 cm. The model shows contours
representing two meter increments. A section of the Hume freeway can be seen lower left.
The area covered is approximately 800 x 1500 metres or about 1.2 square kilometre.  

There is a problem to consider regarding the existing overpass.
It is very intrusive into the siege precinct if that site was ever going to be fully restored back to
1880's time period. Options include building another overpass, but where?
Removal of the existing overpass will also expose other non period intrusions such as existing
modern buildings and houses, bitumen roads and cars all around.

For the purpose of the exercise, the ' landscape model ' is on display at the Old Police Station in
Siege Street Glenrowan. This will allow examination by all those interested and to evaluate all the
options by the community prior to big decisions being made.

Apart from the substantial cost to remove and rebuild 'another overpass', we consider our
submission proposal, to be the 'first and best option'.

We propose to leave things as they are.

With minimal earth works, the existing overpass can be trimmed back and the removal of
approximately one meter of ground level buildup at Siege Street,- down to the original levels.
The site of the original Glenrowan Inn will then become part of the siege precinct panorama ,
( be it in the corner, no options here).

The road landscape model is intended to show four overpass options, two to the east of town,
two at the west end of town.

Our proposal allows for all options to be adopted - 'one at a time' if they are decided upon,
however, progress can continue as no one works project is dependant on the other.

The following two images show the new proposed Ned Kelly Centre Glenrowan situated partly
over the railway line with the overpass removed. However this is an unlikely scenario.

The four following images indicate model view perspectives.

  Fitting snuggly besides the overpass for minimal impact     View looking over the Glenrowan Motel and the Hotel

View looking over 'The Last Stand Theatre'  to the new building,                General overview. The down ramp from the overpass could be   
indicates relative low profile impact                                                              removed and replaced with an alternative close to the building.

  The above images and text encapsulate the architectural design concept which we have developed for the proposed
Ned Kelly Centre at Glenrowan.

Penleigh Boyd , ( Architect )                                                      
(Architects Registration Board of Victoria No 4333 )

Bill Denheld,     ( Designer )
Denheld Industrial Design Pty Ltd

Copyright: Penleigh Boyd and Bill Denheld.

Contact us,

Penleigh Boyd
Penleigh1 at bigpond dot com

Bill Denheld,  bill at denheldid dot com  

Bill's website,   work projects,
Kelly research,


This has been a preview of work we have done to date issued in the spirit of 'work in progress' for
information to the Steering Committee, Glenrowan Improvers and, eventually, all interested parties.
This information is issued now to avoid any confusion as to our intent and well meaning efforts to
assist the promotion of a Ned Kelly Centre at Glenrowan.

Please do not hesitate to contact us and thank you for visiting this website.

Penleigh Boyd and Bill Denheld
10 October 2003

Further developments;

May 2004.
The Glenrowan Revitalisation Project is now underway following the provision of $1.8 million
Community Support Fund grant provided by the Victorian State Government. The grant allocation will be
provided over two financial years with the major works being undertaken in 2004/05. As per the agreed
funding guidelines the works to be undertaken will be focused within the Heritage Siege Precinct and
the commercial sector of Gladstone Street. Work is currently being undertaken to put Power lines underground.

To date, without clear insight offered by Council as to where the N. K. Centre is to be located, -
and considering Council has drawn streetscape plans for ' tender' by contractors to execute those plans,
one would expect the location of the Centre was paramount to those plans ? 
The feasibility study plan ( March 2003) shows a N K Centre located opposite Ned Street - a fair
distance from the town centre and some 250-300 metres away the siege site. This siting may not be a
serious proposal, rather a starting point by the creators of the excellent Feasibility Study.

June 2005, the Siege Precinct site at Glenrowan was awarded National Heritage Listing, and is now a
place of National Significance and is on the National Heritage Register. This high status will allow
Federal Gov funding to be attracted for the development of Ned Kelly Interpretive Centre.
With National Heritage
listing, project planning for the building should now become the focus.

With uncertainty regarding the future of the overpass connecting both sides of the town, we decided to
ask all the people of Glenrowan what they thought of our proposal.

August 2005, An Open Letter to the People of Glenrowan -
300 residents in the town were contacted with the questionnaire below.

The Open Letter found that the majority of townsfolk wanted a Ned Kelly Centre in Glenrowan,
they felt that the town would benefit from the Centre, they felt they had been consulted enough about the
generalities of the proposal and that the authorities should now actively pursue the final design
and construction of the Ned Kelly Centre.


5 Aug 05, and compiled to 29th August 2005

Dear People of Glenrowan and interested citizens, 

The township of Glenrowan has great significance in the life of Ned Kelly. 

As you are probably aware, there is a growing movement to recognise Ned Kelly's significance in the story of Australia. Kelly artifacts are continuing to come to light but there is no central place to house and display them or to tell the Kelly story with the dignity, accuracy and lack of bias that it deserves.

The purpose of this letter is to ask your opinion on the following matters. Please circle Yes or No or write comments to indicate your preference and return to Bill Denheld as noted below :

Positive feedback from 300 residents is expressed in green, as of
29 August 2005

1.    Do you think that the Glenrowan township should be home to a new Ned Kelly Centre?
Yes 98%  No 2% 

2.    If a Ned Kelly Centre was to be built in the Glenrowan township what should it contain:
Museum [Yes 100% ] , Gallery[ Yes 98%  No 2% ],  Shop[ Yes 69%  No 31% ],
Café[ Yes 68%  No 32% ],  Regional Tourist Centre [Yes 98% No 2%],
Assembly Hall [Yes 48% No 52% ]
Market Plaza [Yes 35%  No 65%],  

3.     If a Ned Kelly Centre was to be built in or near the Glenrowan township where should it best go: Main Street 47% as per proposal , the Park opposite the siege site 34%, Opposite the Park - 5% , up on the Hume Highway - 5%, elsewhere - 8%?
Please indicate your preference ---- suggestions like - near siege site,  over the rail line,  Lions Park.

  1. Do you think that Council should actively pursue the design and construction of an appropriate Ned Kelly Centre without further delay? [Yes 95%  No 5%] Remember, other towns are starting to lay claim to being the appropriate venue for a Ned Kelly Centre.
  2. Do you believe that an appropriate Ned Kelly Centre in Glenrowan would become a worthwhile tourist attraction for North East Victoria, [Yes 99%    No 1%]
    Do you think, on balance, it would be a good thing for the
    township of Glenrowan [Yes 100%]
  3. There is talk of removing the Beaconsfield Parade overpass and building another elsewhere.
    This would allow the Siege Site to be more like it was in the 1880’s with a level crossing at the railway line.
    Do you believe the removal of the overpass would be essential from the tourists point of view keeping in mind that tourists will only come for the day[Yes26%  No 64%10%? ]   

    Do you want the existing Overpass to remain  [Yes 63% No 24% 13% don’t know?] From that 24% the following ; If the Beaconsfield Parade overpass was removed, where should another be built ? At the North end of town [Yes 56% /No]  or South end of town [Yes 44%  /No]
  4. Do you think that existing businesses in the town would benefit from the proposed Ned Kelly Centre at Glenrowan keeping in mind that a properly conceived and funded Centre would bring tourists from all over the world to Glenrowan [Yes 97%  No 3%]
  5. Do you believe the people of Glenrowan have had sufficient opportunity to have input into the future plans for Glenrowan regarding the Ned Kelly Centre [Yes 70% No 30%]

Notes;  At the time preparing this questionnaire all questions seemed positive and clear. In retrospect, with the results at hand we realise some confusion such as Q 2- Assembly hall- was just a suggestion and is not proposed. Opinions expressed indicate people are happy with an existing Assembly Hall? but the Market plaza could still occupy the same part of the park as it does now, it would become the forecourt to the NKC, although 65 % voted against such a market plaza?

Then by 29th August 2005 here are the comments as recorded -

Comments from AN OPEN LETTER TO THE PEOPLE OF GLENROWAN  up to 29  Aug 05

Each line followed by a stop = from one person.

Q 2 don't go in competition with local business.
Theatrette , Market outdoor. Shop with wares from local area. Make it as interesting as you can. Toddlers play area. Bunning’s, Myer, anything we haven't got. 
Don't make it like a theme park please !  Include a railway station.

Q 3 Hume hwy no ! pref. where the goods shed+ stock loading area were. after style of old shed.
Talk to Linton Briggs.  Over the rail line.  Old service site Benalla end of town, definitely not the park.  Lions park.  Siege site or lions park. Next to fire station.  Beechworth.  Historical sign - car, for flow through traffic. Not the highway, it should not be like a theme park !!!!!  Over the rail line as your proposal.  Near siege site. Over rail line + foot / bicycle bridge. Make play area free part of attraction.  Lions park.  Any where as long as Glenrowan gets the Kelly Centre.  Anywhere.  In existing park area.  Please consider the purchase of the old petrol station site at the south entrance to Glenrowan currently on the market, this would improve a very ugly entrance from the freeway to town. Not over rail line, on vacant land next to station.  Not over railway - opposite side of Siege street.  Where the old hall is.
 The site now occupied by the overpass next to the park.

Q 4
Subject to large Gov't funding. Rate payers cannot afford. 

Q 5 If it does not cross over with existing attraction. 
I hope so, as long as they don't raise our rates because of it!

Q 6 Overpass ? - Foot traffic only where old hwy use to cross the rail line in 1950-s.  Yes to overpass but updated - repaired.  Overpass yes spend the money elsewhere!   Surely this would be too expensive and a big safety. Kelly centre first south end if money allows. Don't waste time on this issue. leave it where it is. Not sure. One block East of present location. The rail crossing must remain adjacent present overpass. 

Q 7
Affect to businesses ? Yes only if no shop in centre. This is debatable as Glenrowan already receives thousands of tourists each year and would depend on the content of the centre. Some would, others would be ruined if new centre duplicated their business. Yes provided no shop or cafe in new centre.                                                                    

Q 8
 Think a free info centre needed = thinking of families + need, for some choices and no cost areas. Don't know. No idea, don't actually live in Glenrowan, sorry not keen on design of centre. 

Other Comments.

The exit from the interpretation (museum) hall should lead directly to the souvenir shop and then exit proper, encourages people to spend, good luck ! 
Overpass is in a convenient spot wouldn't like to see it changed.  The building design would be the odd building in town - needs to blend more - less rigid.  Over rail track, lookout tower no. This letter is a good idea.  Do not like the proposed building, it's to modern + yuppie, why not stick to the basics. It needs a country look. 
Fresh design badly needed.  Go the lot big banana, big Pineapple etc, but who develops. 
Any proposed building should not be modern as the proposed plan, council said this was many years off, Design: roofing suggestion: either match or invert the col or saddle in which Glenrowan located.  The present shop owners should be given the opportunity and first option to be involved in the ( new centre) trade.

Thank you to all the town's residents who participated in the above Questionnaire.
This information has been forwarded to the The Rural Shire of Wangaratta planning Management
Committee for the project. Late arrived mail input will be factored in to the final outcome.

Further FEEDBACK is welcome. A feedback page will be added at the bottom of this page

With overwhelming support for the concept so far presented, there have been some views expressed
about the modern look for the proposed building.  We can understand those sentiments, but please read
the following statement in response from the architect. - Penleigh Boyd

There are good reasons for the building looking like it does.

The first and most important reason is that the building is an honest response to our time and the functions which it has to perform. We have designed the building to reflect Australia as it now is.

Even though we are commemorating events of the 1880s there is no good reason to pretend that we are still living in those days. People will not arrive in Glenrowan by steam train or horse and carriage, they will not expect roaring fires to keep the Centre warm on winters days, nor kerosene lanterns to light the displays, nor cafe food cooked on an open fire and they will not expect pit toilets out the back.

Visitors to the Ned Kelly Centre will expect an up to date building with all the modern technology that we as a community can offer in 2005.

Now, it is our feeling that if we were to provide an up to date building with all the modern technology on offer but make its appearance look somehow not modern then it would be a sham of a building - something quite dishonest like you might find at Disneyland. We do not want to fool tourists into thinking the building is something that it is not. The building will have come along some 125 years after Ned Kelly's death and it should not pretend otherwise.

Secondly, we must remember that, in the spirit of Ned Kelly, he was a modern man who moved with the technology of his time, even though it was the 1880s. His use of the modern media - (newspapers) to get his ideas across, his adoption of armour (after reading about a battleship that had just adopted its use) and his desire to access the latest in firearms technology shows that he didn't hanker for the past.
What would he have thought of our times?
Would he have embraced the latest technology as he did in his own day?
We have responded to such concepts."

Penleigh Boyd    Architect, Canberra, 16 August 2005

The Wangaratta Chronicle 5 Sept 2005 reported " Mixed response to Ned Kelly design" in which  the
positive Questionnaire results were outlined together with our statement regarding Council having ignored our
concept design proposal since 2003. The 'mixed response' refers to Council's lack of response and not the results.  

In answer, Council responded that "Council rejects Kelly Design" (Chronicle 7 Sept 05) -
mainly on the basis " the design is located across a National freight line between Melbourne and Sydney ".

There are several examples where major buildings have been built over rail lines. - Federation Square,
Spencer Street Station and Chapel Street South Yarra in Melbourne to name a few. Concern for safety is
of course paramount, but is demonstrated to be not an issue with this type of building development.

Our design criteria is to take advantage of empty air space over established rail lines to minimise precious 
siege precinct land use. We are pleased to note that Council plans to have an ' open process' in the development
of a design for the Ned Kelly Centre. 

Bill Denheld


More updates to follow

Site creation 19 September 2003 -  updated 8 Sept 2005 -  
updated 14 Nov 2006 regarding the landscape model now at the Old Police Station rooms.