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image icon Funeral cortege of Thomas Edwards, Fremantle Trades Hall, 1919

Funeral cortege of Thomas Edwards, Fremantle Trades Hall, 1919
John Curtin Prime Ministerial Library


This is a black-and-white photograph taken on 9 May 1919 showing the funeral cortege of Thomas Edwards. The cortege is outside the Fremantle Trades Hall and is surrounded by mourners.

Educational value

This resource is useful because it:

  • This asset shows the funeral cortege of Thomas Edwards, who died as a result of a fractured skull caused by a police baton - Edwards was a member of the Fremantle Lumpers' Union (FLU) and was killed in the 'Battle of the Barricades' riot at Fremantle Wharf, which took place on 4 May 1919; the Western Australian Premier, Hal Colebatch, had intervened in a dispute between the FLU and the National Waterside Workers' Union (NWWU) over the unloading of the coastal trading ship SS 'Dimboola'; violence escalated when members of the FLU threw missiles and stones from Fremantle Wharf at launches carrying the Premier and labourers, who were planning to erect barricades to allow NWWU members to unload the ship; police retaliated with missiles and bayonets, shots were fired and a tense stand-off ensued, punctuated by sporadic violence; according to official reports, 26 police and seven FLU members were injured.
  • This asset illustrates the importance of the funeral to the Western Australian labour movement - the cortege is waiting outside the Fremantle Trades Hall and a large crowd of mourners has assembled; the 'West Australian' newspaper reported that thousands of 'sad and solemn men and women' attended the funeral and that the State virtually came to a standstill so that three minutes' silence in honour of Edwards could be observed.
  • This asset is an example of a public funeral in the early decades of the 20th century - the hearse is drawn by a matched pair of dark horses, the coffin is laden with floral tributes and the mourners are well dressed; the men wear suits, and most people wear hats.
  • This asset shows the fine brick facade of the Fremantle Trades Hall, which was built in 1904 - the flag on top of the building is flying at half-mast in acknowledgement of Edwards's funeral.