Fremantle Stuff > Organisations > Oddfellows


Oddfellows Hall (former), William St

The Oddfellows (or Odd Fellows) Lodge is what is known as a Friendly Society. Friendly societies were voluntary associations of workers, established with the purpose of providing financial and social services to members, often according to their religious, political, or trade associations. Among other things, they preceded medical benefit funds like HBF, in providing medical insurance. In Australia the organisation is called the IOOF, the Independent Order of Oddfellows.


This photograph by Charles Millington Nixon was reproduced in Hitchcock's History: 30.

oddfellowsThe Grand United Order of Oddfellows established two lodges, in Perth and Fremantle, in June 1865. The Oddfellows Hall in William St dates from 1866. Meetings of various kinds were held there. The building was also used as a theatre and as a cinema, before being demolished in 1925. I have not as yet been able to find an image of the exterior, only this one of the interior, on the WA cinemaweb site, where it's accompanied by the following text.

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.
Fremantle City Council rate books 1867 - 1925
Inquirer and Commercial News, 21 August 1889
West Australian, 13 November 1897
Photo: John Corrick?
WA cinemaweb

There was an Oddfellows Hotel from 1897 on the corner of Norfolk Street and South Terrace. Cut in half after 'renovations' in 1985, at the time of the Americas Cup defence, it is now called the Norfolk Hotel. Any connexion between hotel and lodge is not at present known by this author.

There is an Oddfellows Lodge building (1897) on the corner of Oxford and Richmond Sts Leederville.


References and Links

WA cinemaweb

Garry Gillard | New: 12 October, 2015 | Now: 15 July, 2017