Old wooden buildings and books were a highly combustible combination, and many colonial library collections went up in flames. When a great fire swept through most of Parliament Buildings in 1907, the General Assembly Library had a narrow escape.
For people passing Parliament's grounds, the library building is a picture postcard, but it is also an important research institution that has thousands of books, newspapers and other documents about Parliament.
A Workplace Many people call Parliament their workplace, but for MPs and others, the parliamentary complex has not always been the ideal place to spend long hours. The refurbishment of Parliament House and the Parliamentary Library in the 1990s (and the Beehive from the early 2000s) changed that, but for a good part of Parliament's history, the buildings, and the chamber especially, could be uncomfortable. In the chamber Early Parliaments had been cramped affairs, with members sometimes squashed into spaces too small and that were either too hot, too cold or too draughty. The Auckland chamber was hot and stuffy, but as soon as the windows were thrown open, MPs complained that the draught set off their rheumatism.
This view of the rear of the buildings from Sydney Street (with the Legislative Council Chamber prominent) was painted by an English artist in the early 1900s and conveys a romantic Westminster feel. Victorian men and women bustle along the street about their business.
This view of Parliament in the 1900s is from an unusual angle, being taken from a height above Molesworth Street and looking down onto the grounds and circular carriage drive. The use of the light and colour is particularly striking.
This view of Parliament Buildings is from the Molesworth Street main entrance. This postcard must have been produced just before the fire of 1907, for it bears the stamp added later, 'DESTROYED BY FIRE, December 11th, 1907'.
The remodelled grounds hosted many grand public events. The Duke and Duchess of York on their Royal Tour in 1901 arrive at the main entrance of Parliament to be welcomed by Premier Seddon and crowds of onlookers.