In 1856, The eight hours’ organisation applied to William Haines Government in Victoria, for grant of land for a literary institute but were unsuccessful because Attorney General Archibald Michie thought that the place might be used for political or hostile processes. The John O’Shanassy’s Government that followed Haines, reserved land for a literary institute on 8th March 1858 at the corner of Lygon and Victoria streets after the submission of a new application and continued negotiations. A temporary building was erected on the site and was opened in May 1859. Plans for a permanent building was furnished by Reed Barnes Architects at a cost of £3400.
The Memorial stone of the new trades hall and literary institute building was laid on 26th January 1874 by John Curtain, MLA for North Melbourne, in the presence of around 1000 people. The foundation of the building has already been laid and a small portion of the super structure have been raised by then. The construction of the building happened in many stages and it continued until 1925.
The building, for its heritage value and historical significance has been classified by the National Trust and included in the Register of Historic Buildings (Victoria).
The Trade Hall over the years has played a significant role in the growth of Victoria’s trade unions. The activities that lead to the birth of Labor party and the support for many industrial actions have been coordinated from here.
In 1918 the Trades council decided to fly Red flag from the Trades Hall everyday rather than on special occasions which was the norm. The decision was criticised from most corners of the Melbourne society. Today the Trades hall flies Australian Flag, the Eureka Flag, the Australian Aboriginal flag, and the red flag from the roof the building.
Apart from being the centre of Victorian trade unions, Trades Hall also hosts occupational health and safety training for workers. The rooms at the building can also be hired out for functions. Trades Hall is also home to the Trades Hall Bar.
Address: 2 Lygon Street, Carlton VIC 3053
Phone: 9659 3511