St Marys RSL
sub-Branch

  History of the St Marys RSL sub-Branch   

The St Marys RSL sub-Branch was first established in 1929. This only lasted for one year. In 1932, the sub Branch was once again formed and continued until 1935 when the name was changed to St Marys – Mt Druitt sub-Branch. 1935 was also the year that the NSW Branch became an Incorporated Body by passing the NSW Parliament of the Returned Soldiers, Sailor’s and Airmen’s Imperial League of Australia (NSW Branch) Incorporation Act.

The St Marys – Mt Druitt sub-Branch remained an Unincorporated Body with all the legal restrictions that go with it.

In 1937, the sub-Branch changed its name back to the St Marys sub-Branch and continues as such to this day.

Unfortunately, in the early years, the sub-Branch did not have its own building or rooms to hold their meetings. The sub-Branch members met in various places like the Mechanics Institute, the Band Club, the Protestant Hall and the Church of England Hall.

On the 10th May 1945, Mr A J Adams, the then Mayor of St Marys, called a meeting of the residents of St Marys with the object of raising money to form a fund to buy land on which to build a hall and clubroom as a memorial to those people who served in World War II.

On 8th April 1948, Mr I Cohen, Mr C Dawson and Mr H P Christie were appointed trustees to the fund. Two days later, it was revealed that approximately £7,000 had been raised for the building.

On the 2nd May 1949, the fund bought a block of land for £1,120 in Queen Street, St Marys – this was Lot B Section 2, now numbered 211-217 Queen Street, with a frontage of 80ft and depth to West Lane of 198ft. On 27th March 1950, the Trustees became Registered Owners of the land as Joint Tenants. TW Hodgson and Son were appointed as Architects – plans were drawn up for a new hall and clubroom on the site in 1952, but not approved by council until 11th May 1954. Construction was estimated at £5,000. When the building was completed – using mainly volunteer labour, all the money raised had been used to buy materials. Acquiring the materials was difficult as they were more urgently required for building houses.

Very little use was made of the hall and consequently, almost no money flowed into it.

Several small groups in the town, such as sporting clubs, the Catholic Ladies Auxiliary and the local branch of the Australian Labour Party used the hall at various times, but the RSL sub-Branch was the only one to use it regularly. The hall was just too small to be viable as a club.

The Penrith Council built a Memorial Hall in Mamre Road in the years 1960-1962, which was opened on 16th September 1962. The Council then agreed to give the sub-Branch free use of the hall on three nights of the year and also agreed to waive the rates on the Queen Street property for the years 1960 to 1962.

After this, the hall was only used by the sub-Branch for its meetings and no income was derived from it. Water Board and Council Rates were unpaid for the years 1962 to 1968, totalling £5,272. On 30th May 1968 the Sub-Branch paid $150 towards the arrears and the Council threatened to sue the remaining Trustee, Mr IAL Cohen as the Registered Owner, for the balance of the rates.

On the 16th October 1967, thirteen members of the sub-Branch formed the St Marys RSL and Ex-Servicemen’s Club Limited with the objectives of taking over the assets and liabilities of the Memorial Hall Building fund.

This was impossible and the sub-Branch approached the NSW Branch at ANZAC House to take the problem to the Equity Court to settle the question of the ownership of the property.

The NSW Branch agreed to this and the case was heard on 20th September 1979. The court held, that the fund was a dormant fund and the commissioner of dormant funds ruled that the property was to be sold, and the sale money was to be used to pay just debts. The balance of the sale money was used for the relief of Ex-Servicemen and their dependants in the district of St Marys who are in necessitous circumstances and the Returned and Services League of Australia (NSW Branch) was appointed Trustee of the money.

This then severed all connections between the sub-Branch and the Queen Street property, which was sold to Project Properties Pty Ltd on 21st April 1981.

A large block of land on the western side of Mamre Road owned by Mrs Isabella Brangwin came on the market and she agreed to sell it to the Club for $80,000. But, as the Club had no money, it raised the required amount by taking out a mortgage with Commercial Bank of Australia (now Westpac). The sale & mortgage were completed on 16th June 1982.

Attempts had been made over the years to build a Club on the Mamre Road property but as the Club had no assets except a mortgaged block of land no lender could be found. This problem was solved by transferring ownership of the land to the R.S.L. League {N.S.W. Branch) for the sum of $161,850 which apparently paid out the original Mortgagee and the accumulated unpaid rates, taxes and interest.

Tooth & Co. came to the rescue by accepting a Mortgage of $400,000 which was a guarantee of payment for any moneys paid by the Commercial Bank of Australia to the builder of the Club. With this guarantee the club was built and the Club then opened for business on the 15th December 1980.

On the 13th March 1981 the Registrar General issued a Certificate of Title showing that the registered proprietor of the property was the Returned Services League of Australia {N.S.W. Branch}.

The Club continued to trade but in 1984 financial difficulties caused it to look for help to overcome these problems, this was done by selling slightly more than half the land on which the club was built and to this end the land was subdivided into two lots Nos. 101 & 102. The Returned Services League of Australia {N.S.W. Branch} sold No. 102 on the 26th July 1984 to Rennet Holdings Pty. Ltd. for the sum of $310,000.

The sale of this land now required a new mortgage and this was done on the 15th March 1985 by the Westpac Banking Corporation with the Returned Services League of Australia {N.S.W. Branch} "acting or purporting to act as the Sole Trustee of the St. Marys Sub-Branch".

Some mystery followed this. The N.S.W. Branch wrote to the Sub-Branch and asked it to approve the appointment, as sole trustee of Sub-Branch property a Company, formed and owned by the N.S.W. Branch called R.S.L. Custodian Pty. Ltd. The sole object of this Company is to act as Trustee of all Sub-Branches’ properties.

At a duly held ordinary meeting the Sub-Branch agreed to this and Mr. H.R.Lee as President signed the Deed of Agreement on the 22nd December 1987 then on the 7th April 1988 the Returned Services League of Australia {N.S.W. Branch} applied to the Register General for permission to register the R.S.L. Custodian as Sole Trustee of the property No.101/703830.

In 2002 a Deed of Agreement was drawn up for the sale of the property to St Marys RSL & Ex-Servicemens Club Ltd. This sale was effected and the proceeds invested by the sub-Branch under the watchful eyes of RSLCustodian Pty Ltd and three sub-Branch members appointed as Trustees.

Today the Trustee of the Memorial Hall Building Fund is still NSW Branch of the RSL. There is also a committee consisting of two State Branch representatives and three St Marys sub-Branch representatives. Our goals still remain the same. We try to provide assistance to Ex-Service personnel in the district when needed and also to our Youth Club and any organisations which are approved as Public Benevolent Institutions for Income Tax purposes such as the public schools in St Marys.

In 2001, at the instigation of the sub-Branch President, Mr Col Shepherd, the sub-Branch introduced a two-year educational scholarship for three qualifying Year 10 students in each of a number of High Schools in the St Marys district. Titled, ‘Colin Shepherd School Scholarships’, participating schools conduct a competition based around military-related topics agreed with the sub-Branch. The scholarship winners receive a financial award to assist them with their subsequent educational needs, usually into Years 11 and 12.

In May of 2003 the sub-Branch commenced an annual donation (initially $300) from the Memorial Fund to each school within the geographic boundaries of the one-time St Marys Council district, to assist with purchase of relevant books for their library. This donation has since been increased to $500.

On 6th October 2004, the Governor King Day Club commenced operations on Wednesdays in the Youth Club premises. This Club provides appropriate activities and interests for the elderly in the community.

In 2009, the sub-Branch established a Benevolent Fund from which funds are paid to families of deceased sub-Branch members where their membership meets the qualifying criteria. The intention of the fund is to assist with funeral expenses of the members.

An important event for the sub-Branch that took place in 2010, was the investiture of ‘Life Member of the RSL’ on Lee Ann Taylor in recognition of the extensive contribution she gave the St Marys RSL sub-Branch and its members. Lee-Ann is believed to have been the youngest woman in NSW to become sub-Branch President (in 2002).

2011 saw the sub-Branch establish its website designed to enhance our means of communicating with members and the community at large. This has proven very successful. In November 2012, we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Colin Shepherd OAM Memorial School Scholarship Program while presenting the awards for that year. Many past winners from each of the schools in St Marys joined with the 2012 winners, families and school staff. Past winners were invited (with no notice) to briefly share their educational journey since receiving their scholarship - sixteen responded and delivered much praise onto the opportunities resulting from their Scholarships - their occupations cover a most impressive and broad range of careers and industries.

A further important event for the sub-Branch in 2015, was the investiture of ‘Life Member of the RSL’ on Albert Edward (Ted) Fish. Ted’s contribution to the RSL movement since 1997 has been nothing short of outstanding, taking on roles in St Marys, of Secretary, Treasurer and Auditor at various times, acting as MC on many formal occasions, mentoring other members in their role, enhancing ideas and assisting to implement projects such as the ‘Corridor of Honour’ and support for struggling country Sub-Branches. His continued, active role in supporting and guiding the Women’s Auxiliary, Youth Club and Day Club, along with his significant involvement in the co-located Veterans Centre (The Train), has been very much appreciated by all.

While ANZAC Centenary Services across the Nation attracted increased patronage, our local Services were similarly well attended. The local ANZAC Sunday March and Service attracted record numbers including representatives from almost all of our 32 local schools; the schools had all researched several allocated names of St Marys WW1 participants & their work was collated and published in book-form ("St Marys Served Australia in WW1"); the Dawn Service attracted at least 5,000 from the local community. In November 2015, the Sub-Branch was instrumental in initiating local support for the Coo-ee March Re-enactment and Centenary, culminating in a successful Service at Victoria Park

2016 saw the addition to our War Memorial of a M113 APC, with its link by walkway to other military hardware relics and elevation of the Memorial Stone with improved lighting.

 
© St Mary's RSL sub-Branch ABN 88 139 839 090, Cnr Hall St and Mamre Rd, St Marys NSW; Contact: