Photograph of a painting by Toby Leek, courtesy of the artist.
Before restoration in 2016
Early in the eighties Fremantle began to think that it was time to get into long pants and the municipal fathers considered that the Oddfellows' Hall was a mean habitation for their increasing importance. The Government had granted the council a site in South Terrace on which it was intended to erect a town hall, but in 1877 the councillors showed commendable judgment in purchasing for £500 the block now graced by the town hall. As a result of a meeting of ratepayers held in May, 1881, E[lias] Solomon, the chairman, renewed the application for the Government's approval of a project to build a town hall and added ”the cherished hope that with assistance from the Colonial Treasurer and free convict labour a structure, that would be a permanent ornament and utility to the town as well as a lasting monument to His Excellency's, administration, would ere long be erected in the town.” The estimated cost of the building was not to exceed £10,000 and it was proposed to spend £6,000 immediately. The citizens must have lost their enthusiasm because in 1882 the proposal to float the necessary loan was vetoed by the ratepayers. Later on the project was revived with some success with the result that the foundation stone of the town hall was laid by Governor Broome on September 10, 1885. B. C. Wood was mayor at that time, but when on June 22, 1887, the building, was opened, D. K. Congdon wore the mayoral robes, and the ceremony was regarded as one of the most important features of the Queen Victoria Jubilee celebrations. The total cost of the building was £15,000, of which the Government contributed £2,000.
At the time the erection of the Town Hall was commenced, the population of Fremantle was only about 5,000, so that the undertaking was one of considerable magnitude for such a small community. That those responsible for its erection were far-sighted and had bright hopes for the future, is attested by the fact that they have bequeathed a building which, after more than 40 years of civic duty, is still capable of satisfying the needs of a population that is now over six times as large as when it was built. Hitchcock: 91.
The official opening, on 22 June 1887, coincided with the celebration of Queen Victoria's Jubilee and it was formally named by the mayor, Daniel K. Congdon and the State Governor, Sir Frederick Broome, as the Town and Jubilee Hall. Wikipedia.
Films were screened in the Town Hall from as early as 16 December 1896; West's, 1909; Vic's Pictures, 1910-19.
Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.
Garry Gillard | New: 1 September, 2015 | Now: 8 February, 2018