A BRIEF HISTORY OF STOCKTON RSL and CITIZENS CLUB
- The Stockton RSL Sub Branch is unofficially formed when a small group of ex-servicemen formed a committee to assist returned servicemen and widows.
- The first meetings were held in a shed (the “Ellem Bank”) situated near the Boatrowers Hotel (corner of Fullerton and Mitchell Streets Stockton).
- Supporting Stockton’s ex-servicemen, widows and the needy were the stated objectives of the newly form organisation.
- The foundations of Stockton RSL’s present day Stockton Women’s Auxiliary Committee was formed.
- Fundraising and welfare related work were the activities of the inaugural ladies committee
- The Stockton RSL Sub Branch was officially recognised on 20th February 1935 receiving an official RSL Charter and establishing the 8th Sub Branch in the Newcastle region.
- Both the Women’s Auxiliary and the Stockton Sub Branch concentrated their respective efforts on fundraising for charity and a “building fund”.
- A popular fundraising event during this period was the ‘Diggers Ball’ which became an annual event, like the present day ‘Jelly blubbers Ball’.
- The Government of the day directs that the Stockton Council Chamber land is reassigned as a War Memorial with the Council as Trustee.
- The Stockton Sub Branch leases the Stockton Council Chamber land to them from 1st January 1939.
- During 1939 WW2 broke out and the Sub Branch ‘shelved’ its building programme and concentrated on the welfare of service personnel.
- After the Second World War, the Stockton Sub Branch acquired an army hut from the Stockton Proof Range and erected it at the back of the Council Chamber building (corner of Clyde and Douglas Streets).
- This Hut was called the Linich-James Memorial Hall in honour of two Sub Branch members for their fundraising efforts over the years, Albert Linich Snr and Dave James.
- During these years, the Hall became a popular social venue of the Stockton community
- To this day, the Club’s meeting room is named the Linich-James Room in recognition of the accomplishments of these two gentlemen.
- Disaster struck the Hunter region with major flooding and the RSL Sub Branch Hall was used as emergency housing.
- The Stockton Sub-branch begins preparations to establish a social Club and is granted a liquor license in 1959
- On the 5th December, a notice in the Public Service Gazette saw the land of the war memorial dedication being revoked, and following that the Sub-Branch proceeded to purchase the land from ‘the Crown’, along with the purchase of the council chamber building from the local Council.
- The Council Chambers building was renovated and the building became the Sub Branch’s club house and social club.
- The club house and facilities were not adequate and the building was demolished and a new club house was built.
- Additions to the club house were built, this included an office, library and convention room.
- The Sub-Branch established Stockton RSL & Citizens Club as a commercial entity, handing over all licensing and the management of the Club’s operations to the newly formed company.
- The respected Director Mr John Byrne passed away. Mr Byrne, a retired teacher from the Stockton Public School was elected to the Board of Directors of the RSL Club. Mr Byrne was known for his work with the youth of the area. One of his achievements was as manager/coach of the Stockton Public School boys’ basketball team taking them to finals, and ultimate glory of the NSW State school championships. The Board of 1975 developed and introduced the John Byrne Memorial Award for outstanding achievement of a pupil for both Stockton Primary and St Peters Primary Schools. This Award is still presented to this day by Stockton RSL & Citizens Club.
- A movement to permit women the benefits of full membership within the Club commenced. The movement was initiated by Mr Joe Whitcher (now a Life Member of Stockton RSL & Citizens Club) when his daughter was declined membership to the Club by the Board.
- The Club’s constitution was amended to allow women to receive the full benefits of membership to the Club.
- The Stockton RSL & Citizens Club purchases the property from the Stockton Sub-Branch.
- The Club sustains damage from a severe storm which impacted the general Hunter Region
- The movement to permit women the benefits of full membership to the Club crystallises with the Clubs Board and administration comprising of women only for the first time in the Club’s history
- Amalgamation with the City of Sydney RSL & Community Club
- The Stockton club’s Board of Directors and management team worked with Clubs NSW to find potential amalgamating partners and received responses from only two clubs: Stockton Bowling Club and The City of Sydney RSL & Community Club.
- After careful consideration, the Stockton Board voted to adopt the offer by the Th e City of Sydney RSL who promised to improve and operate the Club into the future for the benefit of the Stockton RSL membership, the Stockton RSL Sub-Branch and the general Stockton community:
- “We believe that the Stockton area deserves two clubs.
- On the 15th May 2017, The Stockton RSL & The City of Sydney RSL amalgamated after the Stockton RSL Membership approved the amalgamation with a general vote approving the offer that would benefit the Stockton RSL and the Stockton community well into the future.