The Trades Hall is Broken Hill's most historically important building. It is the first privately owned Trades Hall in the Southern Hemisphere. Built and paid for entirely by the people of Broken Hill, it stands as a proud and fitting monument to all workers, past and present.
Of the old buildings that have survived in Broken Hill, the Trades Hall stands out, not just in architectural terms but because history was made within its walls and on the streets outside. The Trades Hall has been the home of the union movement in Broken Hill since it was built in 1905.
The first attempt to build a hall was made in April 1890 when the Parkes Ministry granted the land on which the Trades Hall stands.
Sir Henry Parkes laid a foundation stone at the corner of Blende and Sulphide streets, the stone, which was thus rendered historical, afterwards met with a strange and unmerited fate. It was taken from its position one Eight Hours Day and used as the primary factor in a hammer and drill contest and was eventually dumped, with a carelessness altogether out of keeping with its historical importance, on a vacant piece of land at the corner of Blende and Oxide streets.
Thwarted by the miners' strike of 1892, which swallowed all the unions' funds, the proposal to erect a Trades Hall had fallen into abeyance and the stone was never returned to the place where, with much solemnity, it had originally been placed by Sir Henry Parkes, and it has now been lost.
It was not until June 5, 1898 , that construction was again commenced.
In 1898 active operations were first commenced by the Eight Hours Committee, of which Mr. N. J. Buzacott was President, Mr. C. Bannerman Treasurer and Mr. H. Hawkins Secretary.
Plans were submitted by Mr. B. Backhouse of Sydney and Mr. Tom Jackson of Broken Hill, with Jackson 's design accepted by the Committee.
Mr. Jackson was appointed Clerk of Works in connection with the erection of the first section comprising the main hall (75ft x 45ft), two meeting rooms (one 18ft x 26ft and the other 18ft x 23ft), and the A.M.A. office.
The Stonemason involved appears to have been Mr. Joseph Jones.
The Committee, early in 1898, started to build with a cash account of £ 500, the estimate furnished by Mr. Jackson for the construction of the hall being £ 5600. The conditions under which the Committee started to build were favorable, more especially as the A.M.A. took a referendum on the proposal, and a majority of members declared for the erection of the Trades Hall. Once the building was started, it went ahead in leaps and bounds.
A ceremony was held on June 5 1898 , and the British trade union leader , Mr. Ben Tillett the laid the foundation stone of the Trades Hall once more.