Trades Hall

In commemoration of the Anti-Conscription Campaign, December 1917 Proposed Additions to Trades Hall, 1882 Detail of Ceiling Plan, 1890 Amended Plan Caretaker’s Quarters, undated Document concerning the transfer of land to the Trades Hall and Literary Institute

Many campaigns have gone out from Trades Hall - by radio during the depression, by banners on the façade, by protests and marches.  An embodiment of the slogan ‘Proud to be Union!’ Trades Hall has provided a physical home for many unions and allied groups since the middle of the 19th century.

The first hall was a simple structure built to commemorate the successful 1856 campaign for an 8 hour day and to provide a meeting place where members could pursue educational and cultural aims, and plan further industrial strategies. This building stood until about 1917. By the 1870s, plans for a more substantial Trades Hall and Literary Institute were taking shape, with Joseph Reed as architect. Many phases of extensions and alteration have taken place since then, including many undertaken by the architectural practice established by Reed and Barnes that continues to this day.   As unions grew in strength during the 1880s, the Trades Hall also grew.  Following a successful strike by the newly formed Tailoresses’ Association in 1883, a Female Operatives Hall was built, as at that time women were not permitted in the committee rooms.  This building was demolished in 1960.

Trades Hall became increasingly grand, but its caretaker lived on site in a simple cottage, more like the housing of most union members. Despite his presence, in 1915 Trades Hall was robbed by notorious criminal Squizzy Taylor.  While the Union movement has seen many changes over the years, Trades Hall endures – the oldest continually used trade union building in Australia.

In commemoration of the Anti-Conscription Campaign, December 1917
Photographer unknown
UMA/I/2656
Victorian Trades Hall Council 1988.0062

Proposed Additions to Trades Hall, 1882
Elevation to Victoria St, drawing No 5
Contract document
Ink and watercolour on paper
Bates Smart McCutcheon 1968.0013 (Job 20)

Detail of Ceiling Plan, 1890
Trades Hall Council, Additions to Council Chamber &c, drawing No. 2
Contract document
Ink and watercolour on paper
Reed, Smart & Tappin, architects and surveyors
Bates Smart McCutcheon 1968.0013 (Job 20)

Amended Plan Caretaker’s Quarters, undated
Ink and watercolour on glazed linen
Bates & Smart, architects
Item 29/13
Victorian Trades Hall Council 1988.0062

Document concerning the transfer of land to the Trades Hall and Literary Institute
Unsigned copy, dated 1885
Victorian Trades Hall Council 1988.0062

Plan of allotments at Carlton, North Melbourne, showing the land to be transferred shaded red
Plan prepared by Surveyor General’s Office, June 18, 1856
Victorian Trades Hall Council 1988.0062

The First Trades Hall, 1856
Detail from the mount of a photograph of the Eight Hour Day Jubilee Committee, 1906
Victorian Trades Hall Council 1988.0062