Trades Hall Triumph

Broken Hill Trades Hall has been endorsed for inclusion on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List, following the backing of its preliminary nomination by both the NSW and federal governments.

The decision offers further formal acknowledgement of the building’s rich historical, cultural, and architectural heritage value.

On the heels of attending the 2023 International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) heritage conference in Sydney, NSW Minister for Heritage, Penny Sharpe, toured Trades Hall.

Ms Sharpe was accompanied by Diana Ferry, a Broken Hill Trades Hall Trust Advisor on Saturday, September 9, while visiting Broken Hill during the Broken Heel Festival.

“Today, we’re able to make the announcement about Broken Hill Trades Hall being put forward on a tentative list for World Heritage Listing, so what a way to end the week!” said Minister Sharpe.

“NSW Government looks forward to continuing its work with the Australian Government to progress the formal nomination, with both endorsing the building’s preliminary nomination in recognitions of its historic, aesthetic, and social heritage past.

“We’re thrilled to support the World Heritage Tentative List nomination of Broken Hill Trades Hall,” said Minister Sharpe.

“Securing a place on the World Heritage List would honour the rich history of labour activism in Australia and demonstrate our country’s commitment to preserving our cultural heritage for generations to come.”

With no confirmed timeframe for Trades Hall to be placed on the World Heritage List, the minister admitted the process is “quite convoluted” but well worth pursuing.

“NSW has been the centre of the heritage world, and Broken Hill has featured in conversations about the importance of sharing stories around the changes to society that took place in this Trades Hall building. It tells a tale of collectivism, and tales of struggle, but it also reminds us of where we’ve come from and why unions are still important,” said Ms Sharpe.

As mentioned in past Barrier Truth articles, along with the Victorian Trades Hall, the Silver City’s Trades Hall will be Australia’s contribution to a transnational World Heritage List nomination of Workers’ Assembly Halls.

The nomination, led by the Danish Government, is made up of sites across Argentina, Denmark, Belgium, Finland, the UK, Canada, and Australia.

Built between 1898 and 1905, the Trades Hall is an excellent example of a Victorian era building and stands as an enduring symbol of the labour movement and is unique in that it stands in a remote and isolating setting.

Trades Hall was the first building in Australia to be owned by unions and played a crucial role in improving working conditions in mines, achieving a landmark Australian-first 35-hour work week for underground workers in 1920.

More than a century on, Trades Hall is largely unaltered and continues to serve its original purpose, with local union offices still headquartered there. It was listed on the State heritage Register in 1999 and continues to house collections of the outback town’s history, including union banners and picket maps from the 1909 lockout.

For more information on the Trades Hall World Heritage listing process, search “Trades Hall” in the search bar at

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