Noble Park Public Hall was a site is owned by the people of Noble Park and has been an important meeting place for over 100 years.
Before the 1910s, from this viewpoint you would have seen kangaroos, wallabies, hares and sheep grazing underneath the towering red gums, manna gums, peppermints, black wattles and tea trees. In 1913, local landowners Alan Frank Buckley and Charles Luxford sold Crown land allotments to be subdivided into smaller farming settlements. They donated one of these allotments to the residents of Noble Park to build a public hall.
At this time, residents raised money under the guidance of the Noble Park Public Hall Trust to build the original hall which was a humble timber building By the 1920s the hall’s timber boards had fallen into disrepair and trustees Isaac, Beatty, Smith, Simpson and Luxford worked with the Dandenong Shire Council to build a permanent structure. The trustees were landowners and farmers who represented Noble Park and together secured a deed under the provisions of the Religious Successory and Charitable Trusts Act, which ensured the hall and its grounds would be used only ‘for public, educational, charitable and recreation purposes, subject to the provision and management of the trust’ for future generations.
In 1925, contractors Wanke and Brown constructed the new and improved Noble Park Public Hall. Made of brick, timber and a corrugated iron roof, it featured an impressive high brick parapet design over a triangular pediment which cast an impressive view from the street below. Bricked pilasters and rendered verticals stood tall above the two stone veneer shopfronts installed at the front of the structure in the 1970s. In 1980, the hall welcomed the addition of an annexe named the AJ Paddy O’Donoghue Hall in honour of the beloved trustee. But, tragedy struck when a fire tore through the brick hall and destroyed significant memorabilia housed in the shop-front museum.
In 2004, construction of a new hall building commenced following the demolition of the Paddy O’Donoghue Hall. In 2006, it reopened as the Paddy O’Donoghue Centre. “It’s owned by the people of Noble Park. And that’s where it’s unique because I believe it’s the only one left in Australia that is still owned by the residents.” Dawn Dickson, 2022.
The Noble Park Public Hall has held historical and social significance for the Noble Park community for over 100 years.
In its inception in 1913 the original humble timber building provided a lively atmosphere as a place for the community to listen to lectures on agriculture and public meetings. By this time, Noble Park boasted a village atmosphere, with a church, school, mechanics institute community centre and post office, as well as a general store, bakery, butchery, bootmaker’s shop, wrought iron works, timber yard and plaster sheet factories. It took many decades for the trustees to repay money borrowed from the Council to build the permanent hall. They relied on fundraising events held at the hall including film screenings, dances and a New Year’s Eve ball that lasted until 5am.
In 1957, the Noble Park Public Trust cleared its debt with Council and with the help of volunteers set about repairing the building under the guidance of its newly appointed trustees including AJ Paddy O’Donoghue. Paddy, also known as Mr Noble Park, was a businessman, baker and beloved leader in the community who devoted his time and generosity to support those in need. Many community clubs and organisations started operating here at Noble Park Public Hall. The hall and its grounds hosted dancing schools, church groups, garden clubs, tennis clubs, badminton and table tennis clubs, callisthenics, air league squadrons, immunisation clinics, senior citizens, welfare organisations, and Noble Park Public High School. Picture shows were held on Saturdays and social functions were held in the evenings in both halls.
By the late 1970s hall bookings were at capacity. Koala Gym Club was formed in the 70’s under the umbrella of the trust and operated for over three decades. Various traders operated from the two shopfronts. It became the hub of community life. “The Koala gym was established at the hall for children of all abilities. It wasn’t competitive it was just fun and it was cheap. And they [Paddy and Olive O'Donoghue] funded a lot of it themselves at first.” Dawn Dickson, 2022
Today the Noble Park Public Hall remains under the ownership of the residents of Noble Park and forms part of the Paddy O’Donoghue Community Centre which features a child-care centre, kindergarten, maternal health services and multipurpose recreational spaces.