The lobby in the House of Representatives

The lobby in the House of Representatives

The lobby, about 1900

The lobby was the centre of parliamentary life. Here bets were made, tricks played, and the more boisterous Members of Parliament (MPs) sometimes put on the odd impromptu sporting or wrestling match as well.

The lobby also made a useful dormitory during very long debates, and MPs would curl up and catch some sleep on the large leather seats. In winter, MPs liked to sit around the large fireplaces, keeping warm or just passing the time of day.

The lobby was built in 1883, linking the two chambers. Doors led off it to Bellamy's, the library, whips' offices and committee rooms. Although the room was narrow, it was an impressive space. The glass-panelled ceiling soared into the air and was supported with ornate rafters.

A fire in 1907 destroyed the lobby, but in the refurbishment of the early 1990s, its shape was recreated on the same spot in the form of the Reading Room in the Parliamentary Library. This room, too, is majestic.

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