Fremantle Stuff > Years > 1851

Fremantle: 1851

Building of the Convict Establishment commenced.

The Fremantle Literary Institute was established in 1851 under the designation of the Fremantle Mechanic's Institute. It amalgamated with the Working Men's Association in July, 1868, at which time it was housed in a small building at the corner of Cliff-street and Dalgety-street. The librarian at that time was H. W. Young, who had been a solicitor in England. The Institute now has its own splendid property in South Terrace erected on land granted by the Government. The foundation stone was laid by the late Elias Solomon, M.H.R., on March 15, 1899, the certificate of incorporation having been obtained two years previously. Since that time the Institute has steadily progressed. An excellent assortment of magazines and periodicals are available, the Institute is well managed, is financially sound and is an acquisition to the town.
In the same year the New Swan Lodge M.U.I.O. of Oddfellows was formed. The hall built by that institution in William-street was erected in the early sixties, but was demolished a few years ago, having outlived its usefulness as well as its stability. Until the erection of the present Town Hall the Oddfellows' Hall was used for all civic purposes. The Oddfellows were an extremely popular and influential institution in the old days, and their annual procession on August 18, which was followed by a banquet in the evening, was always looked forward to as an event of some importance.
At that time amusements were few and in the long intervals between the visits of professional entertainers, some good amateur dramatic performances were given in the old hall. One of the devices for relieving the monotony of the community was the holding of spelling bees with prizes for the winners. Those orthographical contests were as much in vogue as crossword puzzles are to-day, and it was rather humiliating for a competitor who misspelled a word to have to suffer the indignity of being ordered before a large audience to ”Stand Down!” Another form of amusement was the propounding of conundrums on local topics, prizes being awarded for those which were adjudged the best. Hitchcock: 37.


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