Fremantle Workers Club

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1914: The Foundation of the Club

There was a Fremantle Working Men's Club with 35 members in 1893. This is known from an application for a club (liquor) licence which was considered and refused in December of that year, as reported in the Inquirer and Commercial News, quod vide. The [first] Fremantle Club was also in existence at that time, and had no difficulty in having its licence granted.

The Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club was established on Monday 2 February 1914, when the inaugural committee met and named the Club. According to an article in the Westralian Worker of Friday 6 February 1914, the first President was William Roche and the Secretary Herbert Taylor. All those involved were unionists.

It began in response to a perceived need for meeting-place for the workers of Fremantle, many of whom were lumpers (waterside workers, wharfies, stevedores, longshoremen). The Club bought its first premises, the former Lodge's Hotel, at 1 Henry St [now a carpark]. The Workers Club was able to open as a licensed premises on 2 June 1914 after it acquired a liquor licence.

Lodges Hotel'Lodge's Hotel had been built in 1876, but lost its liquor licence in the 1890s. It became a seminary, a school for young ladies, and then the Fremantle Club, an organisation serving the needs of Fremantle businessmen. After the Fremantle Club moved on, the building was available for the use of the FWSLC, which purchased it from the AMP Society for £2000.

The documents which follow—newspaper reports from the time—give an account of the difficulty the Club had in obtaining a liquor licence. Objections were raised by nearby licensees, who presumably did not want to lose that part of their business which was generated by thirsty waterside workers who would prefer to drink at the Club—not only because it was theirs but also because the Club could afford to charge less for drinks as it had another source of income, namely, membership fees.

The Club had three commencement dates to celebrate in the 2014 centenary year: first, 2 February, when the building was purchased. It is not known what activities if any took place in it between then and 2 June, the second date, but they should not have included drinking, as it was until then a club licence was issued and the Club could commence trading in alcoholic beverages. The third date is 2 September on which, as reported below, the Club was officially opened.

Two things in the 3 September report are worthy of note. First, a lady was present. Given that it was a men's club for many decades, it is remarkable that it couldn't be opened without the assistance of a Mrs Parsons, who must have played an instrument (the piano, perhaps) which no man could play as well as she. Second, Mr Burchell, the member for Fremantle, who 'opened' the Club is quoted as saying that the main object was 'to conduct the club on model lines and keep out the gambling element'. It is ironical that there is now a TAB terminal in the room which used to be the Library and Reading Room, and that gambling in this form is now an accepted part of the business of the Club.




The Fremantle Licensing Bench gave further consideration yesterday to the application of the Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club for a licence to sell liquor on their premises, in Packenham-street. Mr. E. P. Dowley, R.M., and Messrs. Purdie and Nicholas, J's.P., were on the Bench. Mr. F. G. Unmack represented the applicants and Mr. M. Lavan appeared on behalf of 20 resident objectors.
Mr. Unmack in presenting his case repeated the objection he had formerly made to Mr. Lavan's appearance, on the grounds that the necessary notice of objection to the licence had not been given. The application, he said, was made by Mr. H. Taylor, secretary of the club, and while it was popularly known as the Workers Club its rules did not restrict other than workers from joining. It would be found, continued Mr. Unmack, that the 20 resident objectors were all licensed victuallers, and in lodging their objection their motive could hardly be more than a mercenary one. It was a peculiar thing that these 20 residents had not lodged any objection when other sections of the community had organised their clubs. One objection which the opposition cited was that the premises upon which the club was established were not suitable. It was, he thought, a peculiar thing that this objection had never been mentioned when the old Fremantle Club occupied them. Another form of objection would be offered by the Municipal Council, but he held that the Bench were not able to entertain such. The police had no objection to the application, and he failed to see why men of the labouring class should not have the club benefits which other sections of the community, enjoyed.
Herbert H. Taylor, secretary of the club, said that all the necessary formalities of the application had been carried out.
To Mr. Lavan: The rules of the club, to the best of witness's belief, conformed with the provisions of the. Act. The club had an option of purchase over the premises, but it had not definitely closed on the offer. If the present application were disallowed the club would not be abandoned, but would apply again at.the next sitting of the Court. There were about 120 members enrolled, and approximately £42 had been collected, about £37 being from fully admitted members. The purchase price of the building was £2,000, payable in a weekly rental of £5. It was not intended to conduct the club under a tied covenant with any wholesale house.
To Mr Unmack: The club was now in possession of the premises.
To Mr. Dowley: There were now actually 100 members, who had paid in £34. The fee for membership was £1 per annum, payable quarterly in advance.
Inspector R. Taylor was the only witness called by the opposition. He said that he was an inspector of the Municipal Council, and as such he had made an inspection of the premises, and he would say that they were unsuitable for a club. The sanitary appointments were defective.
To Mr. Unmack: He had known the premises during the last 40 years, but he had never known the council to lodge a report before the Licensing Bench.
Mr. Dowley: What report?
Mr. Unmack: A report, sent in by the Fremantle town clerk and now on the file. It is a most unheard-of procedure.
Mr. Lavan, in addressing the Bench, directed their attention to a circular calling a public meeting to consider the opposition which his clients had made. He characterised the publication of the circular, which was signed by the applicant, as contempt of Court and gross intimidation to his clients. The circular suggested boycott. Happily the meeting was a fiasco, and therefore the purpose of the circular failed. His first objection to the granting of the licence concerned the rules of the club. These did not define, as the Act required, the qualification required by persons desirous of becoming honorary or temporary members. Secondly, the premises, according to the evidence of Inspector Taylor, were unsuitable. Thirdly, the list of names of members presented in court did not comply with the Act, as many as 17 addresses being gven as "Trades Hall, Fremantle," which, he contended, was not a sufficient address. The fourth and strongest objection lay in 33H of the club's rules, which made provision for any person or persons to take over any part of the club's business as the committee might authorise. Under that rule the club could immediately sell out its bar trade. Section "G" of the same rule permitted the committee to enter into a tied covenant with a wholesale firm, and that section of the Act requiring the management of the liquor traffic to be in the hands of the whole of the members had not been observed. These, he thought, were good and suifcient reasons for dismissing the application.
In his address, Mr. Unmack contended that the rules made provision for the election of honorary and temporary members beyond the limit of 15 miles and over the age of 21 years. They did not desire to admit any honorary or temporary members within the limit of 15 miles. Mr. Lavan had referred to the sanitary arrangements of the club premises as a "menace to public health," but he thought it peculiar that this state should have been allowed to exist so long without previous objection. If the Bench were satisfied that such a terrible state existed, he hoped they would visit the premises and see for themselves.
Referring to the address "Trades Hall," given by 17 of the members. he contended that it was a sufficient postal address, and therefore complied with the Act. The objection to Rule 33. Sections H and G, was not a matter for present consideration, as it was only a surmise as to what the club might do. If the club did make use of the rules as Mr Lavan suggested, then the matter could be made a point of argument on an application for a cancellation of the registration.
Having considered the matter for some minutes, the Bench announced that they would deliver their decision at 11 a.m. today.

The West Australian, Tuesday 24 March 1914, page 8

[This report mentions that the Club premises were in Packenham St. This may be an error on the part of the reporter, as the Club has always been in Henry St, afaik.]

Fremantle Workers Club.

Application for Registration Refused.

The reserved judgment of the Fremantle Licensing Bench (Mr. E. P. Dowley, R.M., and Messrs. F. Nicholas and Purdie. J's.P.) was delivered this morning in connection with the application of H. H. Taylor (secretary of the Fremantle Workers' Social and Leisure Club) for a certificate of registration for premises in Henry street, proposed to be utilised for purposes of a Workers' Club.
The R.M. said that he and his colleagues had given the matter very careful consideration, and the decision they had arrived at was that the rules drafted did not comply with the requirements of the Licensing Act, and that the sanitary arrangements were incomplete. He would say that they had a good deal of sympathy with the application, but on the above grounds they felt bound to refuse the application.
Mr. Unmack asked that the Court be adjourned sine die, as it was the intention to renew the application. The request was refused.

The Daily News (Perth), Tuesday 24 March 1914: 10

Workers Club.

Herbert Henry Taylor renewed his application for a club certificate for premises in Henry-street, known as the Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club. Mr. P. Unmack represented the appellant.
The police submitted a report favorable to the application.
Taylor gave evidence that all the necessary notices and rules had been delivered to the Clerk of the Court, and he had fulfilled the conditions demanded by the Licensing Act. The present membership totalled 198. In reply to the chairman, witness answered that it was the intention that the committee should elect the members. The chairman remarked that it was an extraordinary position that a committee of perhaps five men could elect a member, who may be objected to by 200 members. Counsel stated that it was the general rule of such institutions.
The bench granted the application as from today, June 2.

The Daily News (Perth), Tuesday 2 June 1914, page 8

Club License Granted.

Perth, June 2.

Herbert Henry Taylor renewed his application for a club certificate for premises in Henry-street, known as the Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club. The police submitted a report favorable to the application.
Taylor gave evidence that the present membership totalled 198. In replying to the chairman, witness answered that it was the intention that the committee should elect members.
The chairman remarked that it was an extraordinary position that a committee of perhaps five men could elect a member, who may be objected to by 200 members.
Counsel stated that it was the general rule of such institutions.
The application was granted.

Kalgoorlie Western Argus, Tuesday 9 June 1914, page 9

West Aust 1914

Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club.--Last night about 100 members and their friends of the Fremantle Workers Club assembled in one of the club rooms, the occasion being the official opening of the club by Mr. R. J. Burchell. Mr. Paton presided in the absence of the president (Mr. W. Roache). In addressing a few words to the assembly Mr. Burchell stated that it was time Fremantle possessed a club for the workers. Every port in the Commonwealth had one. He paid a great tribute to the foundation members and to those who had selected the club premises. The main object, he said, was to conduct the club on model lines and keep out the gambling element. During the evening a musical programme was rendered by Mrs. Parsons, Messrs. Taylor, Meyers, W. Howell, Salter, and J. Sands.

The West Australian, Thursday 3 September 1914, page 6




PERTH, March 14
At the Criminal Court to-day William Jones was charged with having violently assaulted Thomas Doolan at the Fremantle Workers' Club. Jones, it was alleged, had a dispute with Doolan, and knocked out one of his eyes with a glass.
Jones, in defence, said he drank five bottles of Sedna—a beverage alleged to contain cocaine and caffeine—and that these drugs temporarily deprived him of his reason.
Mr. Justice Burnside, who told the jury that if Jones was acquitted he could be detained in a lunatic asylum, said Sedna was not responsible for the offence, but something else. He sentenced Jones to 12 months' hard labour.

The Register [Adelaide], 15 March 1916: 5

logoFremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club Inc.
SFFC, Fremantle Oval
PO Box 1623 Fremantle 6959