Fremantle Stuff > clubs > Workers Club. See also - on this site - the archive of the website freoworkers.org.

Fremantle Workers Club

The Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club Inc. began life in Lodge's Hotel at 1 Henry St 2 February 1914. In 1956 it moved to the new purpose-built building 50 metres along at 7-9 Henry St. After 100 years of the Club's existence, it closed this building's doors at the end of 2014. The clubhouse was sold at noon Friday 17 April 2015.

The word 'club' has two distinct meanings in this context. One refers to a building. The Weld Club in Perth is an example. The other refers to a group of people who identify as members of an organisation does not require a particular building to exist. A bridge club, for example, could move from one building to another without any change to its nature. The 'Fremantle Workers Club' is ambiguous.

The FWSLC Inc. continues to exist as an incorporated entity, but it is debatable whether it has really been a club since the end of 2014. It has a managing committee and a paid-up membership, but 2015-19 the club has had events, or 'meetings' if you like, on a Sunday afternoon at four Fremantle venues, depending on availability: the South Fremantle Football Club, the Italian Club, the Tennis Club, and the Bowling Club.

From the beginning of 2020, the Workers Club will become part of the Fremantle Park Sport and Community Centre, with the Tennis and Bowls clubs. It is intended that each club will maintain some kind of identity. For example, the Workers Club has the use of the main function room in the FreoPark building every Sunday for 42 years. (I think that's what Don Whittington told me. He didn't know who thought of the number 42 - which happens to be 'meaning of life' in the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.)

Personally, I think the Workers Club will gradually disappear, as Sunday afternoons events gradually cease to be the kind of old-fashioned dances they are now, and younger people replace them with something more relevant to their interests.

The key to the continuing existence of the club is, and has been at least since 2011, the persistent energy of one man, Donald Whittington. (The record should, however, also mention his partner, Ruth Belben, without whom it would not have been possible for Don to maintain the organisation.) When Don becomes unable or unwilling to continue with his concept of the 'Workers Club', it will quietly cease to exist.


A four-storey apartment building has been built on the Henry Street site, retaining the facade and the one logostyle plaque that remains. (Two others were stolen.)

social

Artist's impression, from a November 2016 advertisement, of the new building, now of four storeys, which is being promoted as The Social on Henry, tho I'm guessing it will be known as The Workers, particularly if they keep the actual words on the building as shown in the sketch. There are now to be 22 apartments.

workers3

The old building in 2017 with advertisements for the new.

References and Links

The Club had a website at freoworkers.org, including much of its history, made, maintained, and donated by Garry Gillard 2012-2019. Everything from that site is now on this one, as the Workers Club is from 2020 effectively part of the Fremantle Park Sport and Community Centre.

Dowson, John 2003, Old Fremantle, UWAP: 108, 109.

Ewers, John K. 1971, The Western Gateway: A History of Fremantle, Fremantle City Council, with UWAP, rev. ed. [1st ed. 1948].

Gare, Deborah & Jane Davis 2014, The Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club 1914-2014, FWSLC.

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Parker, David Dare & Ron Davidson 2010, The Clubs, FotoFreo, Fremantle.

Fremantle Workers Social and Leisure Club Facebook page.


Garry Gillard | New: 1 October, 2014 | Now: 26 November, 2019