Fremantle Stuff > organisations > Working Man's Association; see also: Mechanics Institute, Fremantle Library

Working Man's Association

The Working Man's (or Men's) Association was set up in 1862. 'This organisation also provided a subscription library and it was reported that the library had a total of 847 books.' (Harris 2019) One of early members, thought to be one of the three founders, was Thomas Corrigan, who was its Secretary in 1867 (cf. Erickson; probably other years also).

Edmund Clifton:
In May, 1862, a Working Men’s Association was formed in Fremantle, its object being “to afford rational amusement combined with information for the working classes during their leisure hours.” Their first evening was held on Thursday, June 5, in the Boys’ School Room, Fremantle. “The meeting numbered no less than 400 persons, including the Lord Bishop of Perth, the clergy of the various denominations and a fair sprinkling of the leading families, while numbers for want of accommodation had to be refused admittance. The entertainment consisted of delineated (sic) portions of Shakespeare’s Tragedy of ‘Macbeth,’ readings from Charles Dickens, concluding with ‘Fortune’s Frolic,’ the whole of which was given in a most effective manner by Mr. D. Hancock and received a well-merited applause. The Choral Society belonging to the Association, with the Volunteer Band, assisted in giving eclat to the evening’s amusement. The net proceeds amounted to £5. The next entertainment will be held on the evening of the 26th. The number of members up to the present date amounts to 220.”

[14 January 1864]
1.-The Committee in presenting the Second Annual Report, beg to congratulate the members on the firm and satisfactory state of the Association, and of the hold it has now obtained as one of the established institutions of the colony. .
2.-The accounts and vouchers for the past half-year have been duly examined by two Auditors, Messrs. McGibbon and Martison; who have certified to their correctness in every respect ; and are now open for inspection to any who may wish to see them.
3.-The receipts for the half-year including the Government grant of Twenty Pounds, amount to Fifty Pounds Eighteen Shillings and Five Pence, (£50 18/5) and the disbursements to Forty Pounds Nine Shillings and Three-pence, (£40 9/3) leaving a cash balance on the 31st December of Ten Pounds Nine Shillings and Two-pence (£10 9/2).
4.-The unpaid subscriptions amount to Nine Pounds Two Shillings and Sixpence, (£9 2/6) the major portion of which, your Committee anticipate receiving during the present month of January.
5.-The liabilities in forming and establishing the Association, will now, with the present balance in hand, and the subscriptions to be received, be liquidated; and the Association may fairly be considered to commence the year 1864 free from encumbrance.
6.-The number of members as per last half year's report was 183, since when your Committee have been compelled to strike off the roll for non-payments of subscriptions 47 members; and, in addition to these, 20 have resigned, having gone to other parts of the colony, and one member has died ; 36 new members have joined during the half-year, leaving the present number of bona fide members 151.
6 [sic - should be 7] .-During the past half-year, your Committee and the Association has lost the services of one of its oldest members, Mr. Broomhall, whose firm adhesion to the interest of the Association, and courteous and manly disposition as Chairman of the Committee cannot be too highly spoken of.
The Committee deemed it their duty to pass the following vote of thanks to that gentleman, prior to leaving for his newly appointed post at Albany :
"That the thanks of tho Committee are due, and are hereby given to the Chairman, Mr. J. G. Broomhall, for his unwearied kindness, and attention to the interests of the Association, since its foundation ; and especially for his firm and independent conduct during the period he has filled the office of Chairman in upholding the integrity of the Association, and for his uniform urbanity and kind feeling on all occasions towards the members."
The Committee whilst offering to Mr. Broomhall their united thanks, cannot help expressing their regret at losing so valuable a friend and co-adjutor, and the Association so indefatigable a member. But, whilst thus regretting his retirement, it affords them great pleasure to congratulate him on his promotion to a more elevated sphere ; a position to which his general knowledge and adaptation to business fairly entitle him, and trust, he will long continue to enjoy the confidence of tho Executive, and his fellow colonists."
8.-The following members of the Committee go out of office at the present meeting, and being eligible for re-election offer themselves accordingly : Mr. William Brown, Mr. Robert Lewer, Mr. John Cumming, Mr. William Leach.
9.-There are four vacancies on the Committee in addition to those who go out of office by rotation, in lieu of the following members, resigned :-Messrs. J. G. Broomhall, W. Simmonds, J. Chapman, and L. Redpath, who accepts the office of Secretary, subject to the approval of this Meeting.
[10.-] The following members have notified their intention of offering themselves for election on the present occasion :-Messrs. T. Corrigan, J. Caporn, J. Capewell, D. Adamson, W. Johnson, W. Mills, and W. J. Robson.
11.-Mr. Corrigan having been compelled to resign the office of Secretary, in consequence of his other duties demanding more time and attention, your Committee were reluctantly compelled to accept it, and in doing so, did not fail to thank him most cordially for his past services.
12.-During the past half-year the Association has received a donation of books from England through the instrumentality of your worthy President the Rev. G. J. Bostock.
13.-Your Committee remitted to England in August last the sum of Ten Pounds, (£10) for a monthly supply of papers, periodicals, &c, and are happy to state that the first supply arrived by the December Mail, and are glad to observe by the increased number of members who have attended the Reading Room, daily, since their arrival, how greatly they are appreciated.
14.-There have been issued from the Library during the last six months 1729 books, besides papers ; thus showing a great increase of reading among the members and their families.
15.-The average daily attendance of members in the Reading Room which is now open from 9 a.m., till 9 p.m. for the same period, has been 12.
16.-The time is now close at hand when your Committee will be in receipt of the generous donation of £50, provided for by the Executive on the Annual Estimates 1864-5, and they will not fail in remitting £30 to England for the purchase of a good sound selection of useful and instructive books. The Committee will be glad to receive from any members, a list of such books as they may consider desirable to be purchased. The list when made out will he submitted for the approval of His Excellency the Governor.
17.-From the 1st January, the Association became Lessees of the present Reading Room, for a period of Three Years at the Annual Rental of £14 ; the agreement takes place in accordance with a resolution passed at a special general meeting, held in October last.
18--Your Committee have accepted a tender for lighting up, and cleaning the Room for a period of 12 months, at the rate of 17/6 per month. Any member who may have cause of complaint of want of cleanliness in the room, or otherwise, will insert the same in a book left on the table for that purpose.
19.-The Library now consists of 847 books, showing an increase of 184 volumes during the past half-year. The Committee again beg to urge upon the members the necessity of returning the hooks to the Library, agreeably to the prescribed time of 14 days. Complaints being made from time to time by members that they cannot obtain a particular class of reading.
20.-The Committee regret to state that they have only been able during the past season to obtain but one lecture, " that " given by Mr. Hancock, which realised the sum of £3 16/2 to the credit of the funds of the Association. They trust however that by making timely arrangements a series of lectures and readings will be given during the ensuing winter months.
21.-Your Committee taking into consideration the recommendation of the members, have determined upon issuing the following Circular to the Captains of Vessels arriving from foreign parts in the port of Fremantle :
Working Man's Association,
Fremantle, 1864.
The Committee of the Working Man's Association beg to acquaint you that their Reading Room and Library are open to the use of yourself, officers and crew, during your stay in, Fremantle.
The Reading Room is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. ; and you will find in it the latest London and other papers.
I am, dear Sir,
Your faithful servant,
Chairman of Committee.
To Captain
22.-It is needless to remind the members of the valuable aid and services rendered since the formation of the Association by the President, the Rev. G. J. Bostock, and the Vice President, the Rev. J. Johnston ; and it has been by their steady adherence and private support that the Association has been brought to its present state of perfection. It is therefore with the greatest of pleasure that your Committee cordially and unanimously recommend this Meeting to re-elect those gentlemen as is customary at the Annual Meeting ; and to testify their sense of the services rendered to the Association by a unanimous vote of thanks.
23.-In conclusion, your Committee while reviewing the events of the last year in connexion with the Working Man's Association, cannot but help congratulating the members on the steady course it has pursued amidst many dangers which naturally beset young institutions like the present. This has been principally owing to the steadiness and firmness of the majority of its original members; and proving a healthy example to the body of members in general. Your Committee therefore trusts, that they will at the next half-yearly meeting be able to meet the members with the same cheering prospects regarding the Association, as on the present occasion. In the meantime the members may rest assured that to maintain and uphold the integrity of the Association will ever be the mindful care of the Committee.
President and Chairman.
Fremantle, Jan. 14, 1864.

References and Links

Edmund C. Clifton, 'Music and the stage in the early days', Part 2, Early Days, vol. 1, part 9: 16-33.

Harris, Pam 2019, 'From card catalogue to ebooks', Fremantle Studies, 10: 59-70.

Second Annual Report, Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, Friday 29 January 1864, page 3.

Fourth Yearly Report, Perth Gazette and Independent Journal of Politics and News, Friday 23 February 1866, page 3.


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