Remuera Returned Soldiers Social Club 1932-2002
The Remuera Returned Soldiers Social Club was founded in 1932 by Sir George Richardson, who lived at 20 Omahu Rd, Remuera, (on the corner of Platina and Omahu roads) and who became both a member and the patron of the club.
He had been a master gunner who came to New Zealand in 1891 as an instructor in gunnery. On 16 April 1907 he was commissioned as a captain in the New Zealand Militia, and became chief instructor of artillery services. It was noted in 1909 that he was ‘the hardest worked officer in the service’. He rose rapidly through the New Zealand military forces and was New Zealand’s representative on the Imperial General Staff at the War Office in London 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. Two thousand people attended the funeral service of this unpretentious man, who never forgot his humble beginnings and who throughout his military career, at least, displayed a rare ability to engender confidence among his superiors and loyalty from those serving under him.
He was president of the Auckland Returned Services Association and died aged 70 at his home at 20 Omahu Rd in 1938. The N Z Herald reported on 1st August 1938 that when he died in 1938 a subscription was raised among club members to purchase a memorial portrait to be installed at the clubrooms. Colonel H W Dawson performed the unveiling and paid tribute to the soldier and the man. Great admiration and appreciation was expressed for the work he had done among the returned men and after the unveiling buglers sounded the “Last Post.” Mr. S. Hamlin sang “Requiem” and the buglers sounded “Reveille.” Mr. Kenneth Richardson and Mr. Hugh Richardson, sons of Sir George, were guests of the gathering.
The Remuera Returned Soldiers Social 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.
Club activities at the hall included social functions and club life, smokos and smoke concerts, indoor bowls which included mixed pairs and an annual Christmas party at St Aidan’s for members’ children. Pastoral care included the constant care of ex-servicemen in the district who, through war disability, sickness and other misfortunes, faced hardship and straitened financial circumstances, while members’ wives had rendered great service in assisting the wives and families of men overseas in the present war, by making baby trousseaux and children’s garments for the Auckland Patriotic Fund.
The Remuera Returned Soldiers Club was then incorporated as an incorporated society in 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 a 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 from WW2 veterans, 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 offices, dressing rooms and sports rooms for the club’s activities and opportunities for 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.
Image: The small low-roofed structure on the left is all the accommodation Remuera Ex-Servicemen’s Club has for its rapidly-rising membership. It has purchased the property, also the adjoining section and residence, and proposes building modern, up-to-date club premises. AUCKLAND STAR 8 APRIL 1944
The Remuera Round reported that the accepted tender for the new club house was £8,910 but so far the response by the public to the appeal for necessary funds had been disappointing. Before it made the appeal, the club had already raised about £3,000 by its own efforts. 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 more is expected when the appeal is followed up by personal interviews. The Building Fund held £ 2320.12.3d.
However in 1947 the AGM held at the Remuera Library hall on 15th May 1947 told a different and frustrating story: the year under review has been one of the most difficult in the club’s history. Those wide activities which came to be regarded as normal over a long period of years continue to be curtailed by the lack of a home. It is greatly to be regretted that this should have happened at a time when membership is continually increasing and it is becoming more and more desirable that a hall should be available. Application for a permit to build the 2 storey hall was made to the Building Comptroller in Auckland and the club received an assurance that such a permit would be granted. A contract for the hall was let and signed, and the old hall was offered for sale by public tender. The highest tender was accepted and its demolition proceeded with.
It was only on application being made by the builder for his permit to proceed after the site had been cleared that the club was advised that owing to a change of policy the permit would not now be granted. After a lengthy and fruitless correspondence with the Building Comptroller in Auckland and Wellington, it was decided to make a personal appeal to the Minister by a visit to Wellington of five members. The local Remuera M.P. Ronald Algie introduced them to the Minister of Works, the Hon. Robert (Bob) Semple. The Minister gave them a long and sympathetic hearing and stated that if he were able to help them, he would do so. A letter was however later received from him stating that owing to housing difficulties and shortage of materials, the permit could not then be granted, but he invited them to reapply in 6 months’ time. The application was renewed at the end of that period and after a considerable delay an uncompromising note was received from the Local Building Comptroller advising that the permit had again been deferred.
The Club then decided to look for a suitable army building which could be dismantled and re-erected on site. No record could be found as to the origin or location of the ‘new’ building. Indoor bowls were held in the Remuera Library hall. Attendances had shown a marked falling off and that the mixed evenings have been temporarily suspended. The lack of facilities to provide any refreshments has been a deterrent factor.
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., pictured left, 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.”
Smoke concerts were held on the last Saturday of each month in the new hall. Indoor bowls again came to the fore on greens that were described as second to none in Auckland. Membership now stood at 445. The cost of the new hall had been £ 6322.10.10. Funds collected were £4801 with £1991 owed to the bank.
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.
In the 1980s many donations were made to local organisations:
Remuera Intermediate School £ 100
Red Cross £ 50
Salvation Army £100.00
Crippled Children £50.00
St Chads Scouts £33.70
Plunket Society £20.00
St Chads Scouts £20.00
World Vision £50.00
Landslip Appeal 50.00
Brownies Girl Guides, Radio Telephone Air Cadet League, Save the Children, Cancer Society, Paraplegic Society.
The Cornwall Players Dramatic Society Inc were regular users of the club hall. They were founded in 1985 for the purpose of bringing theatre art and entertainment to the One Tree Hill Borough and regional area and to allow the ‘first-timer’ to go without embarrassment or fear, where they would be accepted and encouraged to show their talent.
The Cornwall Players were the brainchild of Heather McKenzie with Robin Smith and Margo Hodgson, with A J Burney as Acting Chairman. Their first productions were the “Music Hall” in the Jack Dickey Hall and a wartime “Army Revue” in the Remuera –Epsom RSC Hall. Key players were Arch Goodfellow, John Mellor, and Kate Appleton. They ceased performing in the hall in 2004.
Sometimes the annual reports listed the deaths of members under Last Post: 1948 F E (Sammy) Watson (a foundation member of the club), John Newsome, Bill Lyon. 1949 Cyril Moses, Bill McLaren, W J Mills, J WS Pennalligen 1950 R Lamb, Alf. Lynch, J A Stanton, L Asher, H Langton 1951 W Speary, Dick White-Parsons, Dave McPherson, H Strickland, Scott Colville 1952 J Boggs, H R McDonald, F L Little, N L Taylor 1953 C Linehan, W Hagen, S Hamlin, Thos. Duff 1954 Duncan Campbell, Tom Gaunt, H Rennison, J Woodhall A E (Bert) Lincoln who was Hospital visitor for the Auckland RSA. General Peter Harvey Bell, Joe Cox. Jack Young, Harry Emus.
Members of the Remuera Returned Services Club
When the club rules were registered in 1941, they were signed, often with indecipherable hand writing, by:
William Donald, House xxx, Remuera; Leonard Sanderson, Builder, Remuera; Norman Cyril Tucker, Accountant, Mt Eden; Harold William Gibson, Butcher, Greenlane; William Reid McLaren, Commercial Traveller, Epsom; Sydney Nelson Bain, Contractor, Remuera; William Henry Kempkin(?), Mechanic, Remuera; George F Forrest, Stationer, Epsom; Tom Newsham, Carpenter, Remuera; John Alexander Young, branch manager, Epsom; Arthur Charles Tye, Horticultural Instructor, Remuera; William Clifford Coutts, Postmaster, Epsom; James Gibson, Boilermaker, Remuera; Leonard Hardley, Wickerworker, Remuera; Henry James Tizard, Customs Officer, Remuera; E Baxter, Manager, 24 Garland Rd; Harry Hughlings Jackson, Agent, 279 Tamaki Drive; Alexander Walter Bird, Works (?) Manager, 238 Greenlane Road; Kenneth MacDonald, Slaughterman, 9 Garland Rd; Henry Walter Richardson, Plumber, 3 Umere Cres; Cyril Reginald Moses, Accountant, 18 Umere Cres; James Charles Ross, Carpenter, 9 Koraha St, Remuera; Charles Louis McFarland, Builder, Remuera; Thomas Herbert Matthews, Engineer, 2 Quentin Ave, Epsom; Frederick Ryle Rittle(?), Fitter, Remuera; Frank Brennan, Pensioner, Parnell; Duncan Beath, Labourer, 16 Morrow St, Remuera; John Owen Robertson, Company manager, 368 Great South Rd; John Alex Menab(?), labourer, 3 Speights Rd; Alfred (?), Bacon curer, 95 Great South Rd, Remuera; Karl Efieldsma(?), xxx; Charles William Snow, Custodian, Government House; Eastwad (Edward?) Welch, Pensioner, Garden Road 5, Remuera; Thomas William Kerr(?), Water xxx, 66 ????; Claude Hall Clarke, Farmer, 3 Ngapuhi Rd SE2; Henry Edward Clark, Merchant, 68 Alberton Ave; William Alfred Kent(?), Baker, 17 Rocklands Ave; Duncan McKenzie, xxx, 10 Warrington Rd Remuera; George Victor Barley, Truck driver, 88 St Lukes rd; Sandringham Ernest John Mitchell, Clerk, 9 Marua Rd Ellerslie; Leonard Arthur Shirtcliff, Gatekeeper, Bassant Ave, Penrose; Thomas Hartfield, Gardener, 547 Manukau Rd, Epsom; Frederick McLeod, ?, Wainui Rd, Glen Eden; Frederick Ashman, Deputy Foreman (?), 43 Konini Rd, SE6; William John Henderson, Engineer, Remuera; Edmund Caul(?) Patterson, Plasterer, Mt Eden; Hector xx(?) Guest (?), Director, 32 Rangitoto Ave, Remuera; Arthur Ingham, Signwriter, Ellerslie; Donald Norman Taylor, War Pensioner, 57 Main Highway, Ellerslie; Ernest Robert Murray, Joiner, 10 Quentin Ave, Epsom; Thomas Edward Shadbolt, Driver, 12 Walls Rd, Penrose; James Alfred Loon (?), ?, 27 Lincoln St Ponsonby; Cyril Dudley Lester, Soldier, Remuera; Arthur Aislabie, Driver, Remuera; Ralph Landen Thompson, Company Secretary, 186 Gillies Ave; John Arthur Stanton, Schoolmaster, Remuera; Alfred Henry Scoffin, Engineer, Remuera; Frederick Lawrence Stilton, Painter, 14 Waiatarua Rd; Arthur William Wattus, Official Assignee, 22 Westbourne Rd, Remuera; Thomas Herbert Matthews, Engineer, Epsom; John James Torrens, Metal worker, 136 Upland rd, Remuera; Norman Nivell (?), Welder, 33 Marewa Rd, Greenlane; William John Wells, Engineer, Remuera; Archibald Charles Barton, Plumber, Remuera; Harold Sunley, Salesman, Remuera; John Henry Wattam, Pensioner, Remuera; William Stanley Fanselow, Agent & Importer, Remuera; Leonard Arthur Shirtcliff, Gatekeeper, Penrose; Hugh Robert Chermside, Transport Foreman, Remuera; Henry Archibald Uredon (?), Garage proprietor, Remuera; Frank Mitchell Curry, Jeweller, Remuera; Ebenezer Watson, Company manager, Remuera; Herbert Percy Leeves, NZTS, Remuera; William Henry Kempkin or Kempkiss, Dental Merchant, Remuera; Nelson Colin Pierce(?), Bursar, 99 Orakei Rd, Auckland; Lanes (?) Edward Spedding, Factory manager, 46 Cornwall Park Ave, Auckland; Stanley(?) Ernest Bennett, Estate xxx 12 xxx?; Joseph Leslie Scullar, Journalist, 47 Shelly Beach Rd, Auckland; Lawrence xxx Riwc(?), xx xxx Prop, 24 Wheturangi Rd Auckland; SE4 Frederick Roper O’Gorman, Tailor, 15 Gore St, C1; Wilfred Stanley Adams, Clerk, Remuera; Edward Charles Dare(?), Civil Servant, Remuera; Montague Cummins(?), Company manager, P O Box 174, Auckland.
PRESIDENTS OF THE REMUERA RETURNED SERVICES CLUB INC
1932 R G Slyfield
1933 R G Slyfield
1934 I Brown
1935 I Brown
1935 G H Forsythe
1936 F E Watson
1937 – 38 H R Chermside
1939 W S Fanselow
1940 N C Pierce
1941-43 W Donald
1944 H J Tizard
1945 H J Tizard
1946 W S Fanselow
1947 W H Dunne
1948 J B Cox
1949 J B Cox
1950 T Newsham
1951 T Newsham
1952 W S Fanselow
1953 W H Dunne
1954 H Crossley
1955 H Crossley
1956 J M Coleman
1957 J M Coleman
1958 D Budd
1959 D Budd
1960 – 63 H B Stilton
1964 P R Jones
1965 P R Jones
1966 C H Leaning
1967 C H Leaning
1968 S E Gibbon
1969 S E Gibbon
1970 F J Audain
1971 F J Audain
1972 J W A Johnston
1973 J W A Johnston
1974 I Waterhouse
1975 I Waterhouse
1976 H H Moroney
1977 H H Moroney
1978 F J Audain
1979 F J Audain
1980 H Crossley
1981 H Crossley
1982 -1983 E Finnemore
1984 -85 I Waterhouse
1986 – 2000 J Sherwin
2001 L J Beere