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Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Noble Park Public Hall, during construction, 1925.

In 1913 Alan (Frank) Buckley and Charles Luxford were the registered proprietors of the land on which the Noble Park Public Hall now stands. Local residents set about raising some money and a small timber hall was erected. A trust, comprising Messrs Luxford, Maroney and Bunn, was set up, decreeing that the area should be used as a public hall.

In 1919 after Luxfords' death the two remaining trustees transferred the old hall and grounds to five trustees, Messrs Isaac, Beatty, Smith, Simpson and Luxford. Registered under the provisions of the Religious, Successory and Charitable Trusts Act, the salient points stressed and guaranteed by this action were that “the hall shall be used for public, educational, charitable and recreation purposes, subject to the provisions and management of the trust, thereby keeping it in the hands of the Noble Park Community for future generations.

In 1924, the trustees borrowed $4400 from the local council, the Shire of Dandenong, to erect a new brick hall. The title of the land was handed over to the council as security for repayment of the loan. The present Noble Park Public Hall was erected in 1925 and is a testament to the craftsmanship of the local builders, Wanke and Brown. Regular repayments occurred until the Great Depression that led into World War 2 and when revenue almost dried up the council took over running the hall for the next three decades.

In 1957 a packed meeting of residents was held in the hall and the legal position was clearly explained so that there was no doubt where the title belonged, and who should control the future of the hall. The debt was cleared with the Shire Council in October 1957 and five new trustees were elected, Mr Tom Copas, Mr G Luxford, Mr T Kirkpatrick, Cr. E Jenkins and Mr A.J. Paddy O’Donoghue.

During its time under Council control, the hall had become somewhat dilapidated, becoming in desperate need of proper care and renovations. To this end, the trustees set themselves the arduous task of taking care of the halls' as it had been the home of most local organisations at one time or another, with some local groups even having their beginnings stem from meetings that had been held in the hall.

In the late seventies, after many fundraising stalls by the Ladies' Auxilliary, trustees Messrs. John Bush, Paddy O'Donoghue, Bob Bell, Ray Fullerton and Mrs Pat Kampl, called a public meeting of residents interested in developing the complex. The meeting was held on June 24th, 1979, where it was resolved unanimously to establish a hall co-operative. Interested residents were asked to take out shares. It was soon realised that the $30,000 co-operative loan wouldn't be sufficient to fund the building program so the trustees themselves signed a personal guarantee to cover the extra $10,000.

Considerable delays in obtaining building permits caused the project to be held up for approximately eight months, finally in March, 1980, earthworks began. Under the watchful eye of Trustee, John Bush, the foundations were laid in May of that year and work progressed rapidly. Due to Paddy O'Donoghue's sudden death, in his memory upon completion, the trustees decided to name the new hall the "A.J. "Paddy" O'Donoghue Hall, as a tribute to his 47 years tireless devotion to the Noble Park Public Hall.

The Hall suffered a blow several years later when a fire broke out in the upstairs area causing several thousand dollars in damages. This combined with another decade or so of required maintenance eventually saw the lease of the hall and complex pass back to the Council in order to get the much needed work and renovations done.

With everyone moved out of the complex by the end of 2004, demolition of the A J O’Donoghue hall occurred over the holiday period and the building then became a construction site for the next 16 months. The official opening of the Paddy O’Donoghue Centre on May 13th 2006 and was a memorable occasion that was well attended, ensuring that the Public Hall and Complex would continue to be a mainstay of Noble Park for generations to come.

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