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WELD THEATRE HISTORY

 

The Weld Hall was built during the course of 1874-1881 and progressively developed and adapted thereafter. Named after Governor Frederick Weld, it was built as a Mechanic’s Institute and provided support and education prior to institutions such as public libraries being formalised.  Weld Hall later serve as a town hall, the Mechanic’s Institute which began in 1861, a meeting place for the Returned Services League, and now, the home of the Busselton Repertory Club.

Mechanic's Institutes began in Scotland in 1821 as an education facility for working men, as employers recognised the value of better educated employees, and as an alternative to pubs.

 

Weld Hall was built as a single storey brick building with a galvanized iron roof in the Victorian Italianate style, with a stage and auditorium behind a street facing verandah.  It has cultural heritage significance as the place associated with various community organizations, reflecting its important public education role.

 

It is one of the oldest remaining structures in Busselton and is an important reminder of the role of the Mechanics’ Institute in promoting education and cultural development in the community prior to formal library and education facilities being created.  It has had many additions and alterations over time to the present with excellent stage, auditorium, foyer and facilities.

 

The Weld retains a social role as a theatre and contributes to the community’s sense of place. It has a striking visual form and plays an important role in the Queen Street streetscape at the corner of Queen and Adelaide streets.

Governor Sir Frederick Aloysius Weld, for whom the building was named and of aristocratic Irish background, was appointed Governor of WA in 1869, having been Premier of New Zealand.  He urged the construction of extensive telegraph lines throughout WA as he recognised its isolation.  We instituted a steamship service and was eventually appointed governor of Tasmania.