Spearwood Agricultural Hall

Spearwood Agricultural Hall was built in 1927, on the land now occupied by the City of Cockburn Administration buildings. It was planned and paid for by the Spearwood Fruit Growers and Market Gardeners’ Association, on land they had purchased specifically for that purpose. The building itself had previously been the surgical ward of the Fremantle Hospital, and had been dismantled, transported, and rebuilt in Spearwood when the hospital upgraded its facilities.

The need for a community hall, 1912

As early as 1912, when Spearwood was still in its infancy, local residents groups had recognised the need for a hall. Coogee had one, Jandakot had one – Spearwood must be next! The Spearwood Progress Association, aided by Watsonia founder William Watson, found land and planned for a builder, but nothing came of the idea. World War 1 put a stop to much public planning, as many men of the district enlisted and left to fight.

Some members of the Fremantle Districts Fruit Growers and Market Gardeners Association gathered in front of a large brick building in 1914

Some members of the Fremantle Districts Fruit Growers and Market Gardeners Association, 1914. William Watson stands in the centre of the back row, wearing a bowler hat.

Church halls: a substitute during WW1

During World War 1 the Anglican church on Mell Road (Now St Michael and All Angels Anglican Church) was built. Completed in 1916, it had a good-sized hall and for many years after it was used for social functions and agricultural shows, becoming known as the Spearwood Hall by default.

Soldier settlers in an expanding community, 1920s

In 1920, the Spearwood Fruit Growers and Market Gardeners Association held their first Agricultural Show. Many soldiers returning from the war chose Spearwood as their new home, and the district was growing rapidly. For three years they used the Anglican hall for their displays, and then moved onto Watson’s Reserve (now Watson Oval, Rockingham Road) with a collection of tents and marquees when they outgrew the church.

Spearwood Anglican Church

Spearwood Anglican Church, Mell Road, built in 1916

Building the hall, 1927

At the 1927 show on Watson’s Reserve, the Association’s president William Pearce made a speech, telling attendees that 12 acres of land had been bought and the hall was being planned. He said they intended to make it ‘not only a show ground, but a sports ground for the recreation of residents’. By the next show, Spearwood would finally have its hall.

Fremantle Hospital was undergoing extensions, and the surgical ward was too small for their needs. The building was 25 by 75 feet, made of wood and iron, and along with its large hall space was equipped with two small offices at one end, and a verandah that wrapped around the outside.

Fremantle Hospital and wards in 1905, with the surgical ward on the far right

Fremantle Hospital buildings around 1905. The Surgical Ward, which became the Spearwood Hall, is on the far right. Image courtesy State Library WA 009396PD

The Association was able to purchase it cheaply, and paid under £300 including dismantling, transporting, and rebuilding. They received some government assistance for the purchase, leaving them with only a small debt. They appealed to Spearwood residents and members to lend a hand where they could: painting, carpentering, and general labour, and the work was done by volunteer labour under the guidance of Alf Lydon, a local builder.

The official opening was held in March 1928 at the Agricultural Show, where the Minister for Lands declared both the show and the hall open at the same time.

A community hall, 1928-1964

For 36 years, the hall was used for the Association’s meetings and shows, as well as hired out to members of the community for parties, dances, and events. In the early 1950s Albert Ivey and William Angwin ran a movie theatre out of the hall on Friday nights.

By the late 1950s it was becoming a financial burden, as the Association was not generating enough money to keep it in good condition. They leased it to the Spearwood Rovers Soccer Club as clubrooms, and over the next few years the area transformed into a sporting facility, with soccer grounds and a bowling club.

Spearwood agricultural hall in a state of advanced disrepair, 1964

Spearwood Agricultural Hall in very poor condition, 1964

In 1963, unable to pay for repairs and upkeep any longer, the Association transferred the land and hall to the council for a nominal fee. This was on the condition that the area would be used for a public hall into the future. The Association itself ceased functioning in 1965.

The council demolished the original hall and built the administration buildings that are still there today – what is now the Seniors’ Centre was called the Civic Hall, and many community events were held there in the spirit of the old Spearwood Fruit Growers and Market Gardeners Association.

Can you help?

Photographs of the Spearwood Agricultural Hall are extremely hard to come by. If you have a photograph of the hall in your family collection, the library would love to help you digitise it and share it with the community. Please get in touch through the contact page.