Hamel Hall

By Asha Commisso

Hamel Hall1The Hamel Hall is located on the corner of Cornucopia Street and Cullinga street Hamel WA.
Hamel was supposed to be the main town of our community however because had a prison, the people of our community did not want to have it as our main town.
Prisoners that were serving a short sentence in the old Fremantle jail were sent to Hamel for the purpose of clearing about 70 acres of land out in Hamel.

It was thought at first that there would be some difficulty for the guards to control the prisoners when at work but during the whole time there were only ever two escapes.
The idea seems to have worked well with the prisoners as the work that they accomplished including a large garden where they grew vegetables, the Hamel Hall, cook-house (which became the Hamel Nursery), a warder’s cottage and outbuildings.
The idea seemed to be a much more common sense way of dealing with the prisoners than keeping them locked away behind bars.
The prison was closed in 1907, with the prisoners then transferred to Rottnest Island.

In 1912 the prison was placed under the forests Department and was being used as the local Agricultural Hall, however because it still remained in the Forests Department Plantation area there were worries of fire risks, and how it wasn’t very accessible. In 1917 between the trusties of the hall and the nursery manager they come up with the solution that they were to relocate the hall away from the plantation area and closer to the local residence.

Hamel Hall2The date of 1919 was when the Hall was officially relocated in its present location in Cornucopia Street. To relocate the old prison it took three months and was done by mounting the building on jarrah logs, using a tackle and pulley pulled by horses led by local resident Antonio Maschetti. They moved the location a distance of 2400 feet (731 meters).

The Hall later got acetylene gas and then electricity.
The hall has held many local events such as dances, meetings, wedding receptions, school concerts and film showings. The hall also served as a local post office between 1965 and 1977.  

By 1979 the hall was in such poor condition that it was classed unusable. As a result some loyal members of Hamel put together a Hamel Hall Restoration management committee to get it going again however the hall had to wait almost 10 years without being used before undertaking a significant restoration.
The hall then got officially reopened in 1991 for community use and remains in use today.

Watch a video with John Salerian about early days in Hamel.

Hamel Hall3