Workers Memorial at Port Adelaide

“The attached needs wider acknowledgement.” Humphrey McQueen

Workers Memorial - Adelaide


There was a large gathering of Port Adelaide residents at the corner of Commercial road and St.Vincent Street, Port Adelaide, on Friday afternoon, to witness the unveiling of the completed Workers Memorial.

The result of the efforts of a committee formed at Port Adelaide on January 1917, Mr. R.H. Smith (late Mayor) became Chairman of the committee and in November 1919, had the honour of laying the first stone of the massive grey granite base which stood about 12ft high with a tiled approach and a modern sanitary drinking fountain placed on each of two dais’s. It was intended that a marble, statue of “Justice” should complete the monument, but difficulties created through the war delayed the carrying out of this portion of the work.

Then Mr. and Mrs B. Winter came forward and offered to provide the money necessary. The work was put to hand in Italy, and carried out in white marble.

The figure, is now erected, in a beautiful piece of sculpture and brings the monument up to a height of 18ft. A large platform erected at the Police Station corner was occupied on Friday by members of the State and Federal Parliament, the Mayor and Councillors of Port Adelaide and Labour leaders with thoughtfulness, the Mayor (Mr.J. Anderson) called on Mr. Scholz at hospital for the ex-Mayor (Mr. R.H. Smith) who has been confined to his bed for nearly 18 months, and driven down so that he might have the pleasure of seeing the memorial completed.

At the request of the committee Mr. F. Condon (The Secretary) acted as Chairman. The Largs Orphanage Girls Brass Band played selections during the afternoon in a most creditable manner. In introducing Mr. Winter, who performed the unveiling ceremony Mr. Condon outlined the formation of the Committee and the work it had done. He said the money for the undertaking had been contributed by all parties and in addition to unionists, businessmen, ledges and other organizations had greatly helped.

They had desired to honour those who had battled in the interests of the workers in the early days. They were all glad to see ex-Mayor (Mr. R.H. Smith) present, and see that his health was showing improvement (cheers) They were grateful to Mr and Mrs Winter, whose generosity had made possible the completion of the beautiful monument, at which the relatives of the Labour pioneer, .whose names .appeared there, would be gratified (cheers) Mr. Winter having performed the ceremony to the accompaniment of Cheers, briefly responded.

Mr. Gunn M.P. moving a vote of thanks to the donors for their handsome gift to the people of Port Adelaide said the citizens had shown their appreciation by attending in thousands to take part in the ceremony.

Mr. Winter had known many of the men whose names appeared on the monument and knew of the sacrifice they had made on behalf of the citizens and the workers of Port Adelaide, he joined Mr. Condon in expressing pleasure at the presence of Mr. R.H. Smith, who was in the best of health when they last gathered there for a similar ceremony. He knew he expressed the wish of all present when, he hoped he would soon regain his former vigorous ‘health (cheers).

The memorial was unique, as it was, to honour the men who had worked unceasingly in an everyday way,’ sacrificing much that their fellows might enjoy a little more of the better things’.

Some of the younger generation had little conception of what the pioneers of the Labour movement had to sacrifice as they blazed the trail for those who came after them.

The Hon. J. Jelley seconded the motion. He said Mr and Mrs Winter had made it possible, to erect such a fine memorial to the heroes of the Labour movement who had gone before. Mr. Condon then asked the, Mayor. To accept the monument on behalf of the citizens. Mr. Anderson briefly replied.

The singing of the National Anthem concluded the proceedings.

Excerpt from Workers Memorial fax from MUA South Australia Branch – see Workers_Memorail.pdf


3 thoughts on “Workers Memorial at Port Adelaide

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  2. Port Adelaide says:

    Speaking of labour, this is the Workers’ Memorial, which was unveiled in 1921 (I suspect the scarf and hat are of more recent origin). It makes a nice change from the war memorials which are far more common from this period (don’t worry, there will be some of those in a later post). But why a workers’ memorial, and why at that point in time? It in fact had its origins in the First World War: the committee to raise funds for it formed in January 1917, and the foundation was laid a few days before the Armistice in November 1918. It
    was erected, according to the inscription, ‘to perpetuate the memory of deceased Labor Workers’ (there’s that spelling again). Given the timing, I wonder if it was a product of the bitter conflict over the conscription issue between the trade unions and the Labor party on the one hand, and Billy Hughes and the Nationalists on the other? That is the way Humphrey McQueen frames it, but an interesting selection of historical documents about the memorial put together by a modern-day trade union doesn’t seem to provide much direct evidence for this theory (linked from here). But perhaps that’s because it was either too recent to say such things or too long ago to remember…read more at
    Poster for migaloo (many waters, many travel)

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