Seventy years ago on 10 June 1948, a small local club called the Lakemba Services Club became incorporated but the club’s complex beginnings go further back in history.
Shortly after the conclusion of World War I, returned soldiers started raising funds to build a hall to commemorate their brethren who had served. A block of land where the current club stands was purchased for £300 under the names of three trustees; Dr John Barriskill, Victor Harcourt and Russell Gordon – however, being a public acquisition and a trust property, it was owned by the government.
The men then formed ‘The Lakemba Sailors and Soldiers Memorial Hall Committee’ which was tasked with organising various functions to raise funds to build the hall. By mid-1929, after years of fundraisers and hard work, the committee had borrowed and raised enough money to build a single-storey hall called the Lakemba Memorial Hall.
The hall cost approximately £2800 by the time it was completed, a large sum of money back in those days. By renting out the premise for events and meetings, the committee had successfully paid back the original bank loan after several years. The committee continued to manage the hall until 1949.
LAKEMBA SERVICES CLUB WAS FORMED
A few years prior, there was movement by the Hall Committee to wind up and hand over the property to a soldier organisation. They couldn’t sell the hall as it was government property but they could apply for a Bill of Parliament to transfer it to another organisation. This was one step closer to be realised when the Lakemba Returned Soldiers Club and the Lakemba sub-branch of the Australian Legion of Ex-Servicemen & Women signed a mutual agreement on 20 April 1946 to form the Lakemba Services Club with the first Annual General Meeting held on 2 August 1946. The RSL Sub Branch was then invited to join Lakemba Services Club on 14 February 1947 and from then on, the three constituent bodies worked together to further the Club’s services.
Lakemba Services Club officially incorporated on 10 June 1948.
After much debate in Parliament, the original Lakemba Memorial Hall and the land it stood on was transferred to the newly-incorporated Lakemba Services Club by an Act of Parliament on 12 April 1949. From then on the hall became the club’s meeting point and membership kept on growing until 1958 when development plans were submitted to extend the building. Construction continued for the next three years before completion in early December 1961.
A second major renovation happened in mid-1971 and was completed a year later. The old memorial hall was raised from the ground floor to become the new first floor Auditorium and in keeping to the spirit of its historical roots, the club was renamed Lakemba Services Memorial Club on 28 July 1972.
BECOMING THE LAKEMBA CLUB
In 2001, Lakemba Services Memorial Club amalgamated with Canterbury League Club and in late 2013, was reborn as The Lakemba Club after a $2.2 million, six-month renovation.
The new makeover included adding a new central bar and café, a new restaurant space, new décor, updated furniture and modern audio visual equipment. The external brick façade of the club was also rendered and painted, and new signage was installed.
Today The Lakemba Club operates as a hub for the greater Lakemba community and is a fantastic place for families and friends to meet up and have a meal together. The Club is also a host to several events a year including ANZAC Day and Armistice Day to commemorate the people who have fought and served for their country. These events are arranged by the Lakemba RSL Sub-Branch which is still an active group operating till this day.