Fremantle Stuff > buildings > Oddfellows Hall
William St, 1867-1919 or -1925
There was an Oddfellows Lodge in Fremantle, and their Hall was opened in 1867, opposite where the Town Hall (1887) now is, in William St. (Arthur Elvin Davies, 1867-1918, is one example of a member of the Oddfellows Lodge.) As the Oddfellows Hall, it was a multi-purpose building, and as the Gaiety or the Bijou usually a live theatre, and occasionally films were screened there. Harper's Biograph Vaudeville Company showed a season of films 8-13 November 1897, as one of the earliest screenings in Fremantle. (The very first was in the Town Hall.) Demolished 1925 (or 1919).
In the Post Office Directory for 1897 and 1898, it is called New Swan Lodge (Oddfellows) (H.A. Herbert, sec).
It was a two-storey building with a hall on the groundfloor, and may have been in Cape of Good Hope style (John Dowson, personal communication). It suffered a lightning strike in 1867, as reported in the Inquirer for 3 April 1867, page 3:
From our own Correspondent.
On Tuesday, the 26th ult, two prisoners made their escape from the North Fremantle Bridge party, but were recaptured the same evening.
During a thunderstorm on Wednesday morning last, about half past 2 a. m., the Odd-fellows' Hall was struck by lightning, and the gable-end thrown down by the force of the electric fluid, some of the stones being driven to a considerable [distance. The] building was not much shaken, so that we may soon hope to see the breach repaired, and the building completed.
I hear that our Amateur Dramatic Corps, whose operations have been suspended for want of a suitable room, are now contemplating resuming them. The large room of the Odd-fellows' Hall is, I believe, to be used for their represntations ; so that we may hope before long to have the pleasure of their performances, to relieve the monotony of our long winter evenings.
Click on this image (of an unknown event at the time of the first World War) to go to a larger size. On the right of the Federal Hotel sign, you can just make out the front elevation of the Oddfellows Hall. The source of the image is yet unknown. I got it from Facebook from Lost Perth who doesn't bother to give his sources. It may, at a guess, show the crowd farewelling troops off to war, perhaps in 1914.
This is an unusual photo of the interior of the Oddfellows Hall, from the cinemaweb page.
WA cinemaweb page
What follows is the whole entry, unedited, for this former cinema from the ammpt (Australian Museum Of Motion Picture & Television Inc.) site - not as an act of copyright theft but as a backup. Websites often disappear for various reasons.
The Oddfellows Hall in William St was described in 1889 as ‘a miserable place without convenience of any kind and for which extortionate terms were asked’ (Lt M.Rose, Inquirer and Commercial News 21 August 1889). It was renovated in 1890 and became known first as the Gaiety Theatre and then from 1898 to 1910 as the Bijou. The building was demolished around 1925 and the site was not again used as a theatre.
As the Oddfellows Hall, it was a multi-purpose building, and as the Gaiety or the Bijou usually a live theatre, but occasionally films were screened there. It is significant for this database because it was the site for a season of Harper’s Biograph Vaudeville Co, from 8 – 13 November 1897, that is, one of the earliest film screenings in Fremantle.
Sources: Fremantle City Council rate books 1867 – 1925
Inquirer and Commercial News, 21 August 1889
West Australian, 13 November 1897
Photos: 1 interior (Bijou Theatre), b&w, John Corrick?
Garry Gillard | New: 30 May, 2016 | Now: 14 June, 2020