Remuera Returned Services Club
Remuera Returned Services Club
The Remuera Returned Soldiers Social Club was founded in 1932 by Sir George Spafford Richardson, who lived at 20 Omahu Rd, Remuera.
During World War 1, he saw service in Belgium, Gallipoli, France and Greece. He did so well that he became New Zealand’s military representative in London, as well as taking charge of the administration of the New Zealand Expeditionary Force and commanding all New Zealand troops in the United Kingdom. He received many awards – a CMG, a CBE and CB and was knighted in 1925 (KBE).
He worked assiduously for returned servicemen, especially the disabled. In May 1935 he entered local body politics as a member of the Auckland City Council; he was deputy mayor at the time of his sudden death on 11 June 1938, survived by his wife and five children. He was president of the Auckland Returned Services Association and died aged 70 at his home at 20 Omahu Rd in 1938.
The club prospered from the beginning and was leasing the hall at 77 Green Lane East. Due to an increasing number of veterans from the 2nd N Z Expeditionary Force in WW2, it purchased the hall and house in 1941 from John Summerville Hope for £1100, without any call for public assistance. There is no information regarding the beginning of the hall, but the house was built around 1919 for Kathleen Blenda Coleman, wife of Laurence Harcourt Coleman, horse trainer.
Activities at the hall included:
– Social functions and club life.
– Smokos or smoke concerts.
– Indoor bowls (often at the Remuera Library).
– The constant care of ex-servicemen in the district who, through war disability, sickness and other misfortunes, have had to face hardship and straitened financial circumstances.
– Members’ wives assisting the wives and families of men overseas in WW2 war, by making baby trousseaux and children’s garments for the Auckland Patriotic Fund.
– An annual Christmas party at St Aidan’s for members’ children.
The Remuera Returned Soldiers Club was then incorporated as an incorporated society on 8th August 1941, becoming the Remuera Returned Services Club. Before 1941 there are no records found as there was no requirement for a club to do so. After incorporation in 1941, annual reports were filed with the Companies Office and are kept at Archives New Zealand.
In 1943 there were 291 members and the building fund had £745 in it.
In 1944 there were a growing number of members from the 2nd N Z Expeditionary Force of WW2 and £1354 in the building fund.
In 1945 with “severe pressure” of growing membership, and total inadequacy of the present premises, which were held to be old and out of date, plans were well on foot to pull it down and replace it with a modern structure. Plans were prepared for a two-storey building to provide ample facilities for the club’s activities and will afford opportunities of catering for many which at present have to be indulged in only to a very limited extent. The aim of an appeal that has been made to the people of the district and well-wishers of the club is to raise £6000 or £7000 to carry out the full plans as designed.
During 1945 the mortgage on the property was discharged and the club premises became free of debt. The plans for the new building were almost completed and the president said provided the War Building Comptroller is favourably disposed and that the requisite materials are obtainable, a start can soon be made. The result of the circular appeal to Remuera residents has to date been very disappointing. Only £ 260 has been received.
However, due to wartime shortages of funds and building materials, a building permit could not be granted by the government. The Club then decided to look for a suitable army building which could be dismantled and re-erected on site.
In 1948 the club reported that the new hall was in the process of being erected and was proceeding rapidly to completion. The new clubrooms were opened on the afternoon of the Saturday 31st July 1948. Major-General Peter Harvey Bell, C.B. D.S.O., of 82 Victoria Avenue presided over a large assembly of members, their wives and guests, the latter including Brigadier Ronald S. Park and the President of the RSA, Mr A. P. Postlethwaite.
His final charge delivered in declaring the building open now appears in the entrance hall. The charge said “This is to be the home of the Remuera Returned Services Club. May politics, petty bickering, malicious suspicion, uncertainty and bitterness never enter its doors. May it always be the home of loyalty, service, good fellowship, and charity in thought and deed. May its member always find here rest and relaxation, sympathetic understanding, and inspiration for that service for others that seeks no reward and which will, I hope, always be one of the high ideals of the Remuera Returned Service Club. I formally declare this building open.”
In 1951 five smoke concerts were held during the year. With the exception of the ANZAC smoko, the attendances were recorded as being disappointing and revenue had suffered accordingly. Greg Smith conducted the orchestra and the artists but dances had also not been a payable proposition. In 1952 the number of financial members today was drifting from the peak of 450 when the clubrooms were opened. However, thanks to donations, the club’s indebtedness to the Bank had been reduced from £1518 to £1000. In 1956 there were 450 members but only 200 had paid their subscriptions. By 1959 the club’s roll was nearly 400 but of these only 156 members were financial. The yearly subscription was only 5 shillings. However, the Poppy day collection raised £356.12.1d, the smokos held during the year were very successful but all showed a small loss, mainly due to the high cost of refreshments.
Indoor bowls continued to be a very important function of the club, with a great proportion of the club’s revenue derived from this source. Buster Stilton and his committee were congratulated on having stimulated interest in this area. Mrs E V Stilton & Mrs K M Pearce won the Auckland Pairs Championship. 1966 saw a record poppy day collection of £561.10.0. But the committee flagged that unless the Children’s and Diggers Christmas parties had more support, due consideration should be given to cancelling the children’s party. Also very few Diggers turned up for the annual cocktail party and due consideration should be given to cancel this function also.
As recommended by the last AGM, the Club affiliated with the Auckland RSA. In 1980 it was resolved that the name of the Remuera Returned Services Club be changed to the following, due to the amalgamation of the Remuera and Epsom Returned Services Clubs (Inc) – Remuera-Epsom Returned Services Club Inc.
The Epsom RSA had not started until 1944 and Jack Baker of Epsom recorded his memories of the Epsom RSA as being in an “ex-Yank Army Nissen hut where John Killeen (signwriter and father of artist Richard Killeen) ran dances on Saturday nights.” Due to diminishing membership, the club dissolved itself and remaining members joined forces with the Remuera club. The Nissen hut near the southeastern corner of Green Lane and Manukau Roads was demolished by the regional roading authority to make way for the “Greenlane highway”. A plaque from the Nissen hut which had been missing for 30 years was found in the Remuera club rooms in 2005 and returned to the Epsom and Eden Historical Society.
Thirty years later the Remuera-Epsom Returned Services Social Club suffered the same fate. The Remuera-Epsom Returned Services Club was removed from the Companies Office Register on 4th March 2002. The land described in the schedule being a surplus asset of the society was vested in the Wild Trust. A substantial part of the cash held by the Remuera Epsom Returned Services Club was paid to the Ranfurly Home, plus a further $7,000 on deposit was also paid to the Ranfurly Home.