A BUILDING OF GLOBAL SIGNIFICANCE AND LOCAL IMPORTANCE
Victoria’s Trades Hall, rising grandly from the northern
edge of the Melbourne CBD, is a national treasure and a symbol of the
aspirations of the Australian people. For over 150 years the Trades Hall
building has given form to dreams of a better life for working people and their
families. It is not only the birthplace of organised labour in Australia, but
also of Victorian Labor and the Australian Council of Trade Unions.
After the successful Eight Hour Day campaign of 1856, it was
decided that a ‘People’s Palace’ should be built as a monument to this victory
and also as a forum for all union concerns.
The first Trades Hall building, a modest timber structure
that once stood just north of the current Lygon Street entrance, opened in
1859. It was financed by workers and built by their own labour, using local
materials where possible.
In the early 1870s, plans were developed for a more
substantial building. The foundation stone of the present building, designed by
prominent architect Joseph Reed, was laid on 26 January 1874. Trades Hall
became the headquarters for Victorian unions and was substantially extended
during the 1880s as unions continued to grow.
Following the 1882 Tailoresses Strike, Trades Hall leaders
also requested 14 acres of land in Lygon Street for what became the FemaleOperatives Hall. At the time, women were not permitted entrance to Trades Hall committee
rooms, so a separate structure was built out of necessary. It was demolished in
Trades Hall as we now know it was built in stages from 1874
to 1925, by the architectural firm Reed & Barnes (who also designed the
Exhibition Building, Melbourne Library, Melbourne Town Hall and Rippon Lea). A
multi-story extension was added in 1961.
As public awareness of our rich industrial and political
heritage grows, so to does the interest in Trades Hall and other such monuments
to the past battles for workers’ rights. The heritage value of this rare
surviving structure, and the associated 8 Hour Day Monument, has been
recognised by their inclusion on the Register of the National Trust and the
Historic Buildings Register.
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We respectfully acknowledge that Trades Hall stands on the lands of the Wurundjeri people,
traditional owners and continuing custodians of this land.
TRADES & LABOUR COUNCIL
BENDIGO TRADES HALL COUNCIL
GEELONG TRADES HALL COUNCIL
GIPPSLAND TRADES &
LABOUR COUNCIL INC.
GOULBURN VALLEY TRADES &
NORTH-EAST BORDER TRADES
& LABOUR COUNCIL
SOUTH-WEST TRADES &
SUNRAYSIA TRADES &
VICTORIAN REGIONAL TRADES & LABOUR COUNCILS ASSOCIATION
(03) 9659 3511
(03) 9663 2127
Victorian Trades Hall Council
Ground Floor, Old Building, Trades Hall,
Cnr. Victoria & Lygon Streets, Carlton South, VIC 3053
54 Victoria Street, Carlton South VIC 3053