History of West Australia/Lyall Hall


Lyall Hall HOFWA.jpg
Photo by
Greenham & Evans.

SENSATION seems inseparable from politics, and in the West Australian General Elections of 1897 the gentleman whose name heads this article supplied one of the greatest surprises in the history of Constitutional Government in the colony. When Mr. S. H. Parker, Q.C., resigned his seat in the Legislative Council to contest the Perth Electorate with the view of leading the Opposition, Mr. Lyall Hall entered the lists against him, with the result that, when the polling was over, he defeated his redoubtable opponent by five votes. To have been returned by the chief constituency in the colony against such a strong man as Mr. S. H. Parker was undoubtedly a great honour to Mr. Lyall Hall.

Lyall Hall is a native of Victoria, and was born on the Homebush diggings in 1864. His father, Henry Hall, was a well-known journalist, having been editor of the Manchester Guardian, but left for Victoria in the stirring days of the gold fever when Ballarat and Bendigo broke out in all their auriferous glory. Mr. Hall, senior, was for some time identified with the Metropolitan press in Victoria, having been sub-editor of the Melbourne Daily Telegraph and editor of the Weekly Times. Lyall Hall, for many years after he left school, was a member of the Victorian Civil Service, which he left in order to come to Western Australia at the end of November, 1864. Arriving here at a time when the people were beginning to pay serious attention to the question of real estate and its possibilities as an investment, Mr. Hall decided to go into business straight away as an auctioneer and general land agent. It was not long before he made his mark in the real estate world as a man of keen commercial acumen and of sound judgment. Mr. Hall assisted very largely in the subdivision of many important estates in and around Perth, with the result that his connection gained by leaps and bounds. The knowledge which he obtained in the service of the Victorian Government as a surveyor he was able to turn to very good account. Having attained to a good deal of prominence in the business world, Mr. Hall began to devote some time and attention to public matters, and in November, 1896, he was requisitioned to stand for the North Ward in the City Council, Perth. He consented, and had as his opponent the sitting member. Councillor Veryard, who also held the office of City Treasurer in the Council, Mr. Hall defeated Mr. Veryard, and took his seat in the Council, being shortly afterwards made a member of the finance committee, and then later of the sanitary committee. Mr. Hall performed valuable work in the Council. When the scarcity of water occurred in the summer months, early in 1897, he was indefatigable in his efforts to assist the householders. Mainly through his exertions Abyssinian pumps were put down at many of the street corners, which tended in a great measure to help those who were without water. For his prompt action in this matter Mr. Lyall Hall secured the gratitude of quite a host of people in Perth. When he opposed Mr. S. H. Parker, the general impression was that Mr. Parker would win. Mr. Parker came out in uncompromising opposition to the Forrest Government, and Mr. Hall was a stanch supporter of the Premier. The struggle was a keen one, and when it became known that Mr. Hall had won by five votes against such a powerful man as his opponent he was the recipient of many congratulations. It was a memorable contest indeed.

Mr. Lyall Hall leads a very busy life, with his political, municipal, and commercial duties to attend to. A prominent figure in social affairs, he also takes an interest in sporting matters. He is one of the best known men about town, and is easily distinguishable with his smart swinging gait, pince-nez on nose, well-dressed exterior, and withal a cordiality of manner which has made him numerous friends.