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Soldiers’ Memorial Hall
3 Railway Avenue
The earliest community meeting place in Bundanoon was the Primitive Methodist church which occupied the site where the Soldiers’ Memorial Hall now stands. As well as being used for religious functions, the church was used as a school and also hosted entertainments such as concerts and tributes. By 1884 the church was moved to another position in the village and Thomas and William Tooth built a shop and residence on the land. Mrs Bearman’s Mountain Home, a two-storey residence and guesthouse, was built in 1890.
A memorial to the local WW1 soldiers
In 1930 the church trustees subdivided the original acre of land and the Council purchased the corner portion where the Soldiers’ Memorial hall and the Good Yarn shop now stand. Because a Church had once stood where the Hall is now, a covenant was placed over the land by the trustees, forbidding the selling of “wines, beers, ales, spirits or any other intoxicating liquors of any kind whatsoever”.
Sydney architect, Bertram Duckworth was commissioned to build the hall as a memorial to returned soldiers from World War 1. The foundation stone was laid on 19 October 1934 by the Minister for Labour and Industry, the Hon JM Dunningham, MLA. He was presented with a silver builder’s trowel to commemorate the setting of the plaque. This historic trowel was discovered at an auction in 2019 and was purchased by local residents. It was presented to the Bundanoon History Group for safe keeping and will be on permanent display in the Memorial Hall
On 26 February 1935, the Post reported that the project to build the memorial hall took root 12 years before and was followed by 10 years of inactivity. Finally, the government made £3,600 available for the construction and additions cost another £600, making a liability of £4,200. A shop was incorporated into the Railway Avenue frontage to help meet the cost of construction and ongoing maintenance. The shop was let for £2/2 per week and picture nights in the hall were expected to produce a further £2/2. The two rentals were approximately enough for the repayments.
The Bundanoon Soldiers’ Memorial Hall was officially opened by Premier, Mr Stevens, on Friday 22nd February 1935. It is built of dark brick with a semi-enclosed entrance way with a rising sun 1914-1918 motif set into one wall by the doorway.
The Bundanoon ladies played a significant role in the project and raised sufficient funds to supply a Lipp piano, a stool and stage fittings. The kitchen was furnished by the RSL Auxiliary.
The names on the honour boards in the hall are veterans of WW1 who were living in the Bundanoon district or had relatives or digger mates living here in the 1930s when the memorials were established. Although the boards were an integral part of the original hall design, they were kept at the railway station until 1971.
Rubin and Henry Hillier were the sons of William Hillier and Ada Gambell of Bundanoon. In March 1916 Rubin, 24, and his brother Henry, 21, enlisted at Goulburn and embarked on the troop ship Aeneas to Plymouth, England. A month later they sailed to Etaples in France where, in February 1917, they joined the 5th reinforcements for 56th battalion. Four months later Henry contracted mumps and was invalided back to Parkhouse military hospital in England. Rubin was awarded several medals during his military career and his name appears on the honor roll in the Bundanoon Memorial Hall. He died in Bowral at the age of 89.
An aerial observation post during WWII
During WWII the parapet of the hall was used as a plane-watch position, although there was a distinct lack of enemy planes. The village fire warning sirens were fitted to the roof but are not presently in use.
After WWII, an ever increasing popular venue
Following the end of the second World War in 1945, the REX picture theatre was the main attraction of the hall for several decades although many dances, balls, meetings, concerts and other functions were hosted. There was, until the 1980s, a large timber shed out the back, used to store picture theatre seats and other fittings when they were not in use.
The Soldiers’ Memorial Hall has undergone renovations and repairs over the years, with a thorough refurbishment in 2009. The hall continues to provide the community with regular film screenings, exercise classes, concerts, and social functions, as well as twice monthly markets.
A new concert piano
The Soldiers’ Memorial Hall has always been known for its fine acoustics and frequently plays host to top class international musicians.
In 2016, in commemoration of Bundanoon’s Sesquicentenary year, a new Yamaha C grand Piano was installed. In addition to support from Yamaha Australia, the Veolia Mulwaree Trust in Goulburn donated $39,000 towards the purchase price. The Wingecarribee Shire Council also helped to raise funds, with the rest of the money coming from community groups and individuals in Bundanoon and the Highlands. The Australian classical pianist Gerard Willems gave the inaugural concert on 27 August 2016.