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Chamber of Commerce

organisation 1873; building 1912

The Chamber of Commerce building, 16 Phillimore St, 1912, still in use as such. It is at least unusual that an institution should for so long still be in the one and only building it's ever had. Compare the several courthouses, customs houses, and so on.
Wikipedia claims that, 'The Chamber is the oldest chamber of commerce in Western Australia and the second oldest chamber (organisation) in Australia'. (The Sydney Chamber of Commerce was estalished in 1826.)

The Building

Chamber of Commerce Building, a two storey brick and stucco building in the Federation Free Classical style, has cultural heritage significance for the following reasons:
the place is an integral component of Phillimore Street, a streetscape of high aesthetic and historic value. Together with its neighbours, the place forms an important heritage precinct;
the external form and detailing provide a good example of the Federation Free Classical style, featuring extensive use of fine stucco detailing and stained glass windows;
the place is the home of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce, the oldest surviving Chamber of Commerce in Western Australia. Its continued use by the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce demonstrates continuity of function;
the place is closely associated with a number of important individuals who formed the merchant class of Fremantle during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and were influential players in the development of the State;
and, the place is a good example of the work of architect, Joseph Allen, who designed a number of buildings in Fremantle in the early 1900s. (Heritage Council)

chamber 1908

Members of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce 1908. Photo by Nixon & Merilees from a Fremantle City Library Local History Collection image. Seated at the table: from left: ...; F W Barrymore, Manager of Guthrie & Co.; W E Moxon, Manager Adelaide Steamship Co; ...; Frank Nicholas, Manager of WA Shipping Association; Cecil H Salmon, Manager McIlwraith McEacharn; ... . Others identified in the second row are: at the extreme left, Jack W Bateman; H Brown, Manager Howard Smith Ltd.; Charlie Hudson, C H Hudson Ltd.; Tom Carter, Manager Dalgety & Co Ltd.; A W Leonard, Manager Melbourne Steamship Co. and Chairman of the Fremantle Gas Company.

Hitchcock 1929, 56-57:
Chamber of Commerce Formed
On May 29, 1873, a requisition was drawn up for a meeting to take steps to form a Chamber of Commerce in Fremantle. The names of the persons who signed that document will bring back memories of the early days of Fremantle. They were:-
W. D. Moore, Lionel Samson, R. King & Son, A. Francisco, Pearce & Owston, M. Higham, John McCleery, R. M. Habgood & Co, J. & W. Bateman, D. K. Congdon, W. Owston, John McGibbon, W. E. Marmion, E. Solomon, M. Samson, B. C. Wood, W. Holman, R. M. Sutherland.
The first committee meeting was held on June 2 when there were present:-
Messrs. W. D. Moore (in the chair), W. E. Marmion, John McCleery, E. Solomon, J. de M. Absolom, J. McGibbon and E. H. Higham.
The chamber was then called the 'Western Australian Chamber of Commerce' but at a later stage the name was altered to 'The Fremantle Chamber of Commerce.' It was resolved to approach the Government for a grant of land and that request was acceded to, a piece of ground in Henry Street being vested in trustees. Its position was considered unsuitable and subsequently it was exchanged for a site in Phillimore Street, upon which the existing building was erected. The new building was opened on October 12, 1912, by His Excellency Sir Gerard Smith. The Perth Chamber of Commerce, as at present constituted, was not established until 1890, although a body with similar aims was formed in Perth as far back as 1853. The following have filled the office of president of the Fremantle Chamber since its foundation:-
1873-1895 - W. D. Moore
1895-1900 - J. W. Bateman
1900-1901 - J. M. Ferguson
1901-1903 - Chas. Hudson
1903-1905 - E. Allnutt
1905-1906 - A. E. Braund
1906-1907 - D. Gilfillan
1907-1909 - D. Patterson
1909-1911 - W. E. Moxon
1911-1913 - Tom Carter
1913-1915 - J. Stewart
1915-1917 - F. W. Barrymore
1917-1918 - G. F. Moore
1918-1919 - J. W. Bateman
1919-1921 - A. W. Leonard
1921-1923 - J. F. Allen
1923-1924 - F. W. Barrymore
1924-1925 - J. F. Allen
1925-1926 - J. W. Bateman
1926-1928 - S. T. Edwards
The membership now [1929] numbers over 80, the office bearers being:-
President, J. W. Bateman; Past-President, S. T. Edwards; Vice-Presidents, Messrs. J. F. Allen, J. W. Hugall and A. E. Mann. Mr. A. F. Plint, A.A.I.S., has been secretary since 1918 and among those who preceded him was Mr. (afterwards Sir) Henry Briggs, who held the office from 1883 to 1895.
The institution has done much to advance the progress of the port.

In 1853 the Western Australian Chamber of Commerce was founded. In 1873 the Chamber of Commerce requested and was granted land by the State Government land upon which to develop a headquarters. The name of the Chamber was altered to the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce. The first meeting of the Fremantle Chamber of Commerce was held on 29 May 1873 at Maloney's [Orient] Hotel, with Mr. William Dalgety Moore serving as its first chairman (although the Chamber's own information disagrees with this, and suggests that it was William Marmion). Nothing was done with the Chamber's landholdings until the block was exchanged for a site on Phillimore Street, adjacent to the Fremantle Fire Station, which had become free when the railway yards moved to Midland.
The Chamber originally met at premises in Henry Street before the Philmore Street premises were constructed. The current Chamber building was designed by Joseph Allen [Allen & Nicholas] and reflects the type of commercial structures erected in Fremantle during the expansive gold boom years. It is a two-storey brick building with cement dressings on the front elevation. The building has a large committee room on the first floor and two suites of offices on the ground floor with access between the floors provided by a polished jarrah staircase. The total cost of the construction was £1,980. The Chamber building was officially opened on 30 October 1912 by Sir Gerald Strickland (Governor of Western Australia).

Note that the meeting at Maloney's Hotel 29 May 1873 was, according to Hitchcock (see above), not a meeting of the Chamber as such, but a meeting of businessmen interested in forming one. The first meeting of the Chamber itself was 2 June, chaired by W.D. Moore. Hitchcock doesn't say where it was held, but Maloney's Hotel seems to be the likely venue. Patrick Maloney was the publican of the Emerald Isle (now Orient) Hotel.

Presidents 1928-1954 (continuing from Hitchcock's list above)

S. T. Edwards, 1926-1928
J. W. Bateman, 1928-1930
T. Carter, 1930-1932
J. F. Allen, 1932-1933
C. L Messner, 1933-1935
D. J McKenzie, 1935-1937
T. J. Corteen, 1937-1939
H. L. Morgan, 1939-1942
J. W. Bateman, 1942-1943
F. Simper, 1943-1944
J. M. Jay, 1944-1945
M. J. Scanlan, 1945-1947
L. O. Wundke, 1947
C. C. Porter, 1947-1949
F. Manford, 1949-1951
F. J. Briggs, 1951-1953
S. T. Reilly, 1953. Sunday Times, 21 March 1954: 20.

References and links

Hitchcock, JK 1929, The History of Fremantle, The Front Gate of Australia 1829-1929, Fremantle City Council.

Webb, David & David Warren 2005, Fremantle: Beyond the Round House, Longley, Fremantle: 94-95.

'Names tell the story of Port's business life', The Sunday Times (Perth: National Library of Australia) 21 March 1954, p. 20.

Fremantle Chamber of Commerce website

Wikipedia page

Garry Gillard | New: 21 June, 2015 | Now: 3 December, 2023