Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Foresters' Hall, Bardon

Back in the days of the industrial revolution in England, employees had very little in the way of rights or benefits. The same was true here in Australia's early days too, and so groups of workers formed unions to be able to band together to aid each other in difficult times. Ordinary citizens also formed groups such as friendly societies for similar purposes, and we have looked at Oddfellows Lodges before. Today we are examining another similar organisation, the Foresters. The Ancient Order of Foresters had its beginnings in England in the mid-1700s, and the first "court" or lodge was founded in Australia in 1849. Court Foresters' Hope was formed at Paddington in 1878, and they built their meeting hall in Latrobe Terrace in 1888. The building was large enough to seat 300, and it was designed by architect AB Wilson and built by Walter Taylor. By the beginning of the twentieth century there were more than 50 Foresters' courts in Queensland. The earliest photograph of the Paddington hall that I could find was this one from 1997.
(Photo: DERM)

The hall continued to be used by the Foresters until the building was sold in 1976. The building was designed with shops at the front to provide revenue, and the hall itself was regularly rented for meetings. It was also used to hold Labor Party meetings and as a voting booth during elections. The next photo was taken in 2006, and shows the hall without a front awning.
(Photo: Courtesy bertknot and webshots)

The Foresters' Hall is now heritage listed, and it is an "op-shop", where recycled goods change hands at favourable prices. It is run by the charitable group, the Society of St Vincent de Paul. My recent photo below shows the hall with its" Vinnies" sign under the awning. Above the awning is a sign reading "Forester's Hall" (note the wandering apostrophe!) and at the top the date of construction, "Circa 1888".
(Photo: © 2010 the foto fanatic)

Click here for a Google Map.


Next: Four clocks


  1. How about that! I don't think I knew anything about the Foresters in Australia before, but they seemed to be well organised. And plentiful, at least in Queensland.

    Since they built so many halls around Qld, I was wondering if the Foresters were at all similar to the Mechanics' Institutes dotted all around urban and country Victoria. They were basically cooperatives, set up for ordinary working families, to improve themselves via lectures, libraries and social gatherings.

  2. The Foresters are still around today, acting as a friendly society, offering funeral plans and savings plans to members. It appears that they were initially a type of community insurance plan. From their web site:
    "Foresters was set up as a non-profit organisation, the founding principles of the Society being to provide financial and social benefits as well as support to Members and their families in times of unemployment, sickness, death, disability and old age."

    Here is a link to one that operated in Victoria:

    It is said that their rituals dated back to the days of Robin Hood and Little John in Sherwood Forest, and that these names were used in their initiation ceremony.

    Interesting, hey?


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...