GMH Social Centre

Former GMH Social Centre. Photograph by David Thompson.

The former General Motors-Holden Social Centre is tucked away off Salmon Street.

Constructed in 1945 by Richmond builder, E A Watts Ltd, the building hosted concerts, balls and all manner of GMH employee functions but, primarily, was their canteen. Typical fare in the mid-1990s included French Onion soup (70c), Beef Stroganoff ($3.50) and assorted Sweets (70c – $2.00).

Former GMH Social Centre, interior (1996). Photograph by David Thompson, PMHPS Collection.

Arguably the most important day in the history of the Social Centre was 29 November 1948 when Prime Minister Ben Chifley launched Australia’s first mass-produced car, the FX Holden.

Two of the more striking features inside the building are two large murals, one either side of the stage area above the canteen servery. Anecdotal evidence suggests the murals were painted by GMH employee Eileen Robertson in the tower of the nearby Administration Building (facing Salmon Street) and installed in the Social Centre upon completion.

Mural, Former GMH Social Centre (1996). Photograph by David Thompson, PMHPS Collection.

The first mural depicts transport past including a sailing ship, horse-drawn coach, steam train and an early motor car. In complete contrast the second mural shows a city of the future with fast-moving streamline trains and cars with a couple of airships flying overhead.

Mural, Former GMH Social Centre (1996). Photograph by David Thompson, PMHPS Collection.

In September 2021, with the former GMH site slated for redevelopment as part of the Fishermans Bend Urban Renewal project, it was announced that the Minister for Planning, Richard Wynne had decided to add the GMH Administration Building, the Parts Building, the Social Centre (including the murals) and part of Plant 3 to the Victorian Heritage Register.

Victorian Heritage Register Number: H2399

Location: 223-261 Salmon Street

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