(How The Memorial Hall Committee Succeeded In Spite of Indigo Shire)

Disclaimer: This history and website have no connection whatsoever with Indigo Shire Council and/or the present Beechworth Memorial Hall Committee of Management.

renovations dbit xmas collect


"The Beechworth Servicemen`s Memorial Hall was a modest timber building, comprising a rectangular hall with an annexe of small rooms to the west side.

In the mid 1950s, several schemes were prepared for renovation, which proposed extending the hall further to the east, and adding a new kitchen and committee room to the west side.  The renovated hall was officially opened on 23 July 1957, and it was reported in the local press that 'the crowd was so dense that dancing was almost impossible."

The information above was sourced from this website: There is other information there which may be of interest.

The Hall was originally managed by the Beechworth Sub-Branch of the Returned & Services League of Australia, the RSL being the actual owner of the Hall and the land surrounding it. However by the early 1970's the Sub-Branch found it increasingly difficult to manage the facility. The Hall was transferred "in trust" to the then United Shire of Beechworth (later amalgamated into Indigo Shire Council). Over the years the Hall was sadly neglected and at the time of Shire amalgamation in a very run down state. The new Memorial Hall Committee worked very hard to correct this while fending off the many vested interests who wanted it to fail.

Indigo Shire  Council was formed in November 1994 when the Shire Councils of Beechworth, Rutherglen, Chiltern and Yackandandah merged into one.  The Council was initally run by Commisioners who set up a "Halls Committee" to run both the Beechworth Servicemen's Memorial Hall and the Town (or Shire) Hall next door. Both halls were in a neglectd state. The new committee set to work with very limited funds (initially a $500.00 ex gratia payment from the Commisioners) to make essential repairs including:
These repairs were undertaken with funds the Hall Committee raised, not with the financial assistance of Indigo Shire Council.

In addition a proper fee structure was put into place to enable the Committee to finance the care and maintenence of the Halls. The Committee endured sustained criticism by several groups and senior bureaucrats who resented not being able to use the Halls when they pleased, free of charge, with no regard to such things as insurance, cleaning or damage. It was a very difficult time for the new committee but it persevered with the help of the Commisioners and later a few sympathetic Councillors. Most of the Beechworth community eventually came to accept the "new regime" and to appreciate the long overdue improvements.

After Indigo Shire held its first elections senior bureaucrats wanted control of the Town (Shire) Hall for use as offices instead of the allowing the Committee to manage it as a puiblic facility. However fearing a public backlash they wanted the Halls Committee to recommend this. Fortunately the Hall Committee was wise enough to simply relinquish control of the Town (Shire) Hall to the Council. There was a puiblic outcry and the Council took the flack not the Hall Committee. The first of many times they tried to shift the blame to the Committee!

 Many of the Shire's bureaucrats resented having to deal with unpaid volunteers who in many cases were better at running things than highly paid staff. Volunteers who were genuinely concerned about the community they lived in rather than just paying lip service. Several senior bureaucrats went out of their way to make life difficult for the Hall Committee and tried many times to get rid of it or at least make it a token committee for appearances sake. Quite often we were totally ignored, as if we didn't exist. For example:
  • The original Hall booking system was a  manual one, i.e. bookings were simply written in a large book which the Hall Committee had ready access to. This was changed by the Shire to a computerized one without telling the Committee and to which we had no easy access. Evidently the Committee was supposed to manage the Hall without actually knowing who was using it and when! Our solution was to pay for a computerized system of our own and to allow the Shire access to it.
  • When the Hall Committee was set up Indigo Shire wanted to collect all the hire fees and then pass the money to the Committee. That was the theory. In practice it took the Shire 6 months or more to do this, starving the Committee of funds, perhaps in the hope that it would resign. Our solution was to set up a separate bank account for the Hall, collect the hire fees, and bypass the Shire.
  • Indigo Shire (reluctantly) gave the Hall Committee a yearly "asset management grant" averaging $2000.00. This amount was not even enough to pay for routine maintenance and cleaning. Over the years the Hall Committee raised tens of thousands of dollars on its own through hire fees and special events.

The original Committee of Management of the Beechworth Memorial of which I was a proud member was brought down by incompetent bureaucrats trying to jusitfy their own existence. Watch this space!

Over the years the original Committee organized many events which raised thousands of dollars for the Hall and brought thousands of visitors to Beechworth.
Click here to see pictures of some of those events.