Ancient Order of Foresters Hall

Digby, Victoria, Australia

A.O.F. Hall Digby 1873 - 1926

This photograph was probably taken at the opening of the A.O.F. Hall in September 1873.
(Click on the photograph to view a larger copy)

Extracts from the Hamilton Spectator provide insight into the establishment of the Foresters' Hall at Digby.

1 March, 1873

    We say that we are on the march of improvement. I find that our enterprising neighbour, Mr.F.Ford, of Merino, has purchased the old Post office store, and is to open a branch business here on the first of the month, and to sell at Melbourne prices. Our respected resident, Mr.F.Bruce is about erecting a new store, and the building he at present occupies is to be opened as a temperence hotel. There is also in contemplation a Free Library and a Foresters' Hall, so that we may well say, "Advance Digby." There is an old proverb, "Better late than never," for we have been at a standstill for a long time.

29 March, 1873
    The members of Court Perseverance here have been presented, by Mr. F. Ford, with a site for a Foresters' Hall, in the main street, and I believe the members are taking active steps for the erection of a building immediately.

    The parties interested in furthering the Mechanics Institute and Free Library are also actively at work. A public meeting is called for next Saturday evening, for the election of office-bearers, and other matters in connection with the above; so, taking things all together, we may say that Digby is on the march of improvement.

18 June, 1873
    Last Saturday the first block was laid of the Foresters' Hall. The ceremony was performed by what bretheren there were in the township. A cavity was cut for the bottle which contained the scroll, on which the name of the court was written, its number, date of opening, the present officers' and contractors' names, and other matters, also copy of the local newspapers, and some coins of the realm. After the bottle was enclosed, another was broken on the head of the block, or rather its contents were put into the heads of those present, and the stone was pronounced "well and truly laid." I consider the building of a hall is another step in the right direction. All these benefit societies should have meeting rooms of their own, clear of the public houses. Not that I am a cold water man, but I believe that a great many more would join the different bodies, were the meetings not held at houses of entertainment.

9 July, 1873
    Our new Foresters' Hall is progressing, the frame being now up, and all the material on the ground. I hear that the building is to be opened with a concert, supper, and ball.

10 September, 1873
    Last Friday was the day appointed for the opening of the new Foresters' Hall. It is a very nice wooden building, 33ft by 20ft, and 12ft high, and is a great improvement to the main street. At six o'clock, p.m., some twenty-five of the members mustered at the old court rooms, and marched dowm to take formal possession of the new hall. At seven the horn sounded for dinner, when some 120 or 130 sat down to a capital spread. Every one, male and female, seemed to have made their minds up for a night's amusement. After the good things had been discussed, the C.R. gave "The Queen and Royal Family," the S.C.R. proposing "Our Adopted Country." Brother Lackmann then proposed the toast of the evening, "Prosperity to Court 3319 and its new hall," which was responded to by Brother Farley, giving the Foresters' fire, and song, "Bold Robin Hood." Other toasts followed, "The Visiting Bretheren," "The Ladies," &c. The toasts were interspersed with songs, and on the tables being removed, dancing commenced. The dancing was kept up with great spirit until Phoebus showed his bright rays in the east, short intervals for breathing time being filled by some very good singing, both comic and sentimental.

7 January, 1874
    Christmas and New Year with their festivities are past, and are just as far from us as they were this time last year, and our little town is getting itself down again into its usual quietude. During the whole of the Christmas week the weather was delightfully mild, and the holidays have been got through in a very pleasant manner. On Boxing Day we had our races as usual, but owing to there being many meetings held on the same day the attendance of spectators and horses was not so numerous as we could wish, but taking all things into consideration, we cannot complain. The races were well contested, and the stakes not not so bad for a small place like this. At night there was a ball in the Foresters' Hall, and dancing was kept up until a late hour, and only for a disturbance caused by some larrikan visitors, everything would have passed off well. Our cricket club gave their quota towards the amusements by playing a match on Saturday - Married v. Single. In the first innings the married kept close to the single, there only being one run difference, but I am sorry to say, the Benedicts stood no chance in the second innings - the lads proving the victors with wickets to spare. Our little club is progressing, and with practise may yet turn out a very credible eleven, but it will require a little to bring them out, although I may say they have a "great gun" in Bullocky. The Foresters' dinner and ball, and the Band of Hope sports were on the programme for New Year's Day, and formed an excellent wind up to the holidays. A meeting was held last night in the Foresters' Hall, to consider the matter of the unequal division of the Ridings, but there were very few in attendance, and those who were there did not appear to have any direct views on the matter. After a great deal of desultory conversation, the Chairman adjourned the meeting for a fortnight. I see that we are likely to have a good few to pick and choose from at the coming elections, no less than four that I hear of present. Political promises put me so much in mind of puff paste, that I have a strong suspicion that they will be broken; but I feel sure that the promises demanded from the candidates at the forthcoming elections, will require to be fulfilled, if possible, to the fullest extent.

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