In 1924, market gardeners and local politicians of the Spearwood and Hamilton Hill areas formed an association to raise funds for a war memorial. They wanted to honour the memories of the men from the district who gave their lives during the First World War. The plan had always been to build a hall to serve the community as well as memorialise the fallen.
The group, known as the Memorial Hall Association, owned the land on Rockingham Road, and many of the building materials were already available. A loan from the State Government and a supply of timber from the State Sawmills, combined with the funds from carnivals, dances, and morning teas held by the Association, brought the plan to completion, and the foundation stone was laid by the State Governor, Sir William Campion, on Saturday, March 21st, 1925.
In his speech to the assembled crowd, Sir William ‘supported the association’s action in building a large hall, which he did not think would be too large in time to come.
People were short of reverence and were inclined to forget too soon. There was no time in the history of the Empire when men offered themselves for service more freely than when the nation was so badly pressed in the great war. There was a horrible word which should be wiped out of existence and that was the word “class”. Class distinction was practically unknown at the front and friendships had been made through the medium of war which probably would not have been made in times of peace. Children should be taught the story of sacrifice, and he hoped that those who entered the hall in years to come would remember those to whom it was dedicated.’
The completed hall was officially opened on July 19th, 1925. Wreaths were laid by families who had lost sons, and speeches made by Mr J. Allen and Mr W. Winfield, both founding members of the Hall Association.
The Hall would go on to be used frequently for local dances, fairs, agricultural shows, and many other events run by the local community, though for some years all profits went into paying off the debts to the State Government and builders. It wasn’t until 1938 that the debt was paid off in full.
Until the mid-1950s, the Hall played host to a cinema on Friday and Saturday nights, and in 1963 its management was taken over by the Shire of Cockburn. In 2004, work began on the refurbishment and expansion of the Hall, restoring the original building to its former glory and constructing a modern addition, completed in 2009.
This post first appeared in a modified form in the April 2016 issue of the Cockburn Soundings.