The history of areas situated on the outskirts of the historical city of Gdańsk earmarked for naval industry dates back to 1844-1850, when the construction of the Royal Shipyard – later called Imperial Shipyard – started. The first building in the place of the present-day BHP Hall was erected in the second half of the 19th century, and then extended in the 1870s after the end of the Franco-Prussian War. It was a wooden or wood and brick building. From the outside, you can clearly see that the whole building consists of two architecturally different parts: a two-storey office segment and one-storey warehouse, today housing the historic Great Hall. According to the research carried out by the Regional Monument Conservator, both parts of the building were not erected at the same time. However, for the sake of chronological order, it is assumed that the present form comes from 1902.
The Imperial Shipyard and its successor, Gdańsk Shipyard, constructed battleships for the Second and Third Reichs in 1871-1941 and 1939-1945. From its very beginning, the present BHP Hall building functioned as a warehouse and assembly shop where vessels were equipped with armament. The inscription “Torpedo-Lagerhaus” (“Torpedo Warehouse”) on the eastern wall of the office building survived till today. The building also functioned as a warehouse from autumn 1939 till spring 1945.
After WW2 “Danziger Werft” (Gdańsk Shipyard) was renamed “Shipyard No 1”. In October 1947 it was combined with “Shipyard No 2 (the former Ferdinand Schichau Shipyard) and named “Stocznia Gdańska” (“Gdańsk Shipyard”), as it is known till today. In the period 1967-1990 it was named after Vladimir Lenin, and its production was oriented at ocean-going vessels for the Soviet Union.
The end of WW2 was a turning point in the history of the building: it was no longer used for military purposes, but served as a place for training courses for newly-employed workers of all departments and executives. In the 1960s, the Great Hall was adapted to the needs of Gdańsk Shipyard Cooperation Department. This change only enhanced the purpose of the building, and its present name, “Health and Safety at Work Hall” (Sala BHP), comes from that period. Its layout and museum-like character are a result of another adaptation made in 1978-1980. At that time the building, especially its two-storey part, was transformed into the Gdańsk Shipyard Museum. Today it houses an office and two small conference rooms.
In August 1980, BHP Hall was the place where the Inter-Enterprise Strike Committee (MKS) was set up and held its meetings, and where negotiations with the Governmental Commission were held. It was here that “Gdańsk Agreement” of 31 August 1980 was signed, which led to the establishment of Independent Self-Governing Trade Union “Solidarność”. BHP Hall is the place where Polish non-violent road to real freedom and independence started. It is also a symbol of fight against communism.
On December 6, 1999, BHP Hall was entered into a list of historic buildings with number A-1206. In 2004, Trade Union “Solidarność” became its legal owner. A year later extensive renovation works started. On August 24, 2010, BHP Hall, converted into a conference and museum facility, opened again.