Sydney Trades Hall


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Trades Hall was built by and for trade unions, to have a meeting place for unionists and to develop literacy and education for the workers of NSW. It is a trades hall and literary institute, boasting many union offices, meeting rooms and a wonderful library that has always had books and newspapers from around the world.  The website is in the spirit of these initial purposes where you can find fascinating tales of unions, social movement and individuals who have contributed to the development of social justice, workers’ rights and social democracy around the world, not just in NSW.

The hall was the first home for the first labour movement broadcasting station in the world – radio 2KY. The base for the eight hour movement which had its origins in Sydney in 1855. The first Labor Party prime minister in Australia, John Watson, was President of the Labor Council of NSW who had offices in the building, Jock Garden, then Labor Council secretary,  began the ACTU here, it was the place where Ben Chifley gave what remains one of the most famous political speeches in Australia history – “The Light on the Hill”. One of the most outstanding trade union banner collections in the world has its home here.

Eight Hour banner by Edgar Whitbread (1907)
Eight Hour banner by Edgar Whitbread (1907)

It has also served as a place for many progressive movements such as the Union of Australian Women, Australia People for Health, Education and Development Abroad (APHEDA), the May Day Committee, the Non-Ssmokers movement, the Burma Office, Chinese Seamen’s Union, Bicycle NSW, Amensty International, African National Congress in Australia.   If walls could speak then many of their stories you will find here might be whispering in your ears as you walk the buildings corridors. We hope you enjoy the trip