Oddfellows Hall in Paterson
Above: the decision to establish a branch Lodge at Paterson in 1846 (Maitland Mercury 11 March 1846 p1).
Above: the foundation stone is laid (Maitland Mercury 30 May 1863 p2).
Above: the opening (Maitland Mercury 8 July 1865 p2).
The Paterson Lodge of the Independent Order of Oddfellows of the Manchester Unity arose from meetings in March 1846 at the Paterson Hotel (see press clipping at right). As a result, Loyal Paterson Union Lodge No. 012 was formally opened at Captain Brown's Bush Inn on 14 April 1846.
'Oddfellows' was (and is) a benevolent organisation, a mutual association whose chief purpose is the welfare of its members. For example, the organisation could provide financial support to members during illness or injury, and pay funeral expenses on the death of a member. Local lodges also had a social dimension, holding dinners, dances and other events (more information on Oddfellows).
The foundation stone for the Oddfellows Hall in Church Street, Paterson, was laid on 26 May 1863 by Miss Arnold, whose father William Munnings Arnold was a Paterson landholder and Minister for Public Works (see press clipping at right). The architect and clerk of works for the Oddfellows Hall was Mortimer Lewis.
Building the hall was a drawn-out affair. It was not until January 1864 that the building contract was let, to Messrs Stanbridge and Son, and it was reported that erection would begin without delay.
Over a year later, in May 1865, the hall was scheduled to be opened with a dinner and ball, but the opening was cancelled. The hall was finally opened in July 1865, more than two years after the foundation stone was laid (see press clipping at right).
After the Paterson School of Arts was established in 1868 it used the Oddfellows Hall as its base until 1876.
By the 1970s membership of the Paterson Lodge became too low and it closed, the few remaining members transferring to the Maitland branch. In 1996 the Loyal Paterson Union Lodge No. 012 was formally amalgamated with four other lodges to form the Loyal Hunter River District Lodge No. 903. The Oddfellows Hall is now a private residence.
Today, the Court House Museum at Paterson holds the ceremonial banner for the Paterson Lodge that was made by George Tutills in London in 1901 and is probably the only surviving Tutills-created MUOOF banner in Australia. The banner is on public display at the musuem which is open on Sundays (museum details).
Above: the Oddfellows Hall at Paterson in earlier days on the left, and in 2012 on the right (left photo: NCC Collections).
Clements, Pauline. The Paterson Lodge Banner, its Origins and History. Paterson: Paterson Historical Society, 1997.
James, Bob. "The Almost Lost World of Benefit Societies" in History, June 1995 pp6-8.