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Lockleys Servicemen's Memorial Centre Inc
Lockleys Servicemen's Memorial Centre and RSL sub Branch
This page commemorates the Lockleys Soldiers Memorial Hall and the Lockleys RSL Sub Branch that were both prominent in the local community for 96 years 1922-2018, and the men and women of Lockleys and district who served the nation in armed service during major conflicts of the 20th Century.
Their memory will be perpetuated in a physical Memorial to be constructed at Mellor Reserve incorporating the original Foundation stone, and in detail via the hundreds of pages of this site documenting the men and women of Lockleys and district who served the nation when they were needed most.
For the purposes of this site, Lockleys and District encompasses the following suburbs. Click on each to see the names of over 2,500 people from the district who served in the nation's name in major conflicts of the 20th Century.
Mile End, and
Thanks to "The West Torrens Historian" Vol 7 No. 2 2015 - and the West Torrens Historical Society
In the 1920s and 1930s many memorials and halls were built around the country, in South Australia, and beyond in places as far away as Malta and the Unted Kingdom, to recognise the contribution of community members who had served the nation in the Great War.
Australia's all-volunteer Army suffered disproportionately high casualty rates because it was largely an infantry army and as such, at the forefront in battle. One in five of those who enlisted were killed and a large proportion of the rest were wounded at least once. Incapacitated veterans were very much in evidence in the community in the early 1920s. A staggering 50% of returned personnel had died by 1938. Perhaps as remarkably, survivng veterans who were fit enough, enlisted once again for service in WW2 in the Militia (CMF), Volunteer Defence Corps and some even served in the 2nd AIF, in action, overseas, again.
Fig 1. Fundraising badges for various veteran causes
Although the RSL emerged as the national Veterans organisation of greatest import, in the early 1920s it did not have the reach it later acquired. So, many groups like the Lockleys Servicemens' Memorial Centre Inc sprang up and raised public subscriptions for facilities to both commemorate local service men and women, but also to provide entertainment for their communities, scarred by recent loss.
The Lockleys Soldiers' Memorial Hall - 1925
Ref: Register 28.3.1925, The Mail 28.3.1925
This information courtesy of the "West Torrens Historian" 2015 (see link) Vol 7 No. 2
At Lockleys, after a vigorous fund-raising campaign by a 14-member committee, the foundation stone of the Lockleys Soldiers’ Memorial Hall was laid on Saturday 28 March 1925 by Colonel J. Rowell CB VD.
Fig 2. Colonel James Rowell CB, VD. Horticulturalist, politician and leading identity in the South Australian Military Forces and Commander of the 4th South Australian Contingent to the Boer War, and head of Sea Transport staff in WW1. His nephew Frank died at Gallipoli as CO of the 3rd Light Horse Regiment. His son Sydney was to win renown in WW2 at Kokoda and became Chief of the General Staff in 1953
The building was to be erected on land donated by local identity John White Mellor on Henley Beach Road at the eastern corner of Malurus Avenue.
The hall was officially opened on Sunday 16 August 1925 by Mr T.A. Powell, chairman of the Memorial Hall committee. The Reverend Thomas Vigis presided.
The hall was designed by local architect Donald Graham and built for £3,600 (at a substantial discount) by contractors C. and E. Curtin. Of the total cost of the hall £1600 was raised by public donation and the remainder borrowed from the State Bank. The hall was built of brick and iron and lit by gas and electricity.
Fig 3. The Lockleys Soldiers Memorial Hall as it appeared in 1926 (West Torrens Historical Society)
Its design was similar to other memorial halls of the time, with a central front double door entrance opening onto a long passageway leading to the main auditorium. Meeting rooms were on each side of the entrance hall, the one on the west doubling as a ticket sales office.
The Hall also contained supper rooms, storage and dressing rooms and a ‘silence room’ containing photographs of fallen soldiers and a marble commemoration tablet.
Responsibility for the hall formally rested with its seven trustees: John White Mellor, John Fewings, T.A. Powell, T.H. Hayman, James Rowell, Clifford Stanford and J.A. Inkster, all of Lockleys.
The Lyric Theatre
Commencing on Saturday evening 10 October 1925, films were shown in the 360-seat hall and the cinema was known as the Lyric Theatre or Lyric Pictures, (or even more simply as the Lockleys Theatre).
From the 1930s to the 1950s the cinema was a focal point of social activity, with a visit to 'the pictures’ on a Saturday night a highlight of the week for many locals.
'The Lockleys Budget'
The Lockleys Budget was an Agricultural and Horticultural newspaper that promoted a series of agricultural shows and a market that used to operate from the premises immediately after WW2, when the area was still heavily invested in horticultural production, from 1948-52.
More to follow
The Windsor / Odeon Cinema years
After the acquisition of the lease by B.E. Cunnew and Sons from October 1948 the cinema became the Lockleys Windsor Theatre.
At its peak the Windsor group ran cinemas at Brighton and St Morris as well as its two West Torrens cinemas at Lockleys and Hilton. From 1948 Harold Slade was the manager/usher of the Lockleys theatre with Allan Rainey the chief projectionist. In the early 1950s, the theatre underwent two substantial redevelopments.
Fig 4. The Lockleys Cinema in its heyday c 1960 (Courtesy of the Brian Pearson Collection)
The hall was then able to hold 495 patrons. However, as with other cinemas, the coming of television to Adelaide in 1959 immediately impacted the theatre’s viability.
Despite enjoying some success with occasional showings of Greek and Italian-language films, the theatre closed in February 1963.
Over the next thirty years the venue was used only spasmodically. For several years from the mid 1970s the theatre was run by Mr Stephen Buge and operated commercially as the Lockleys Cine Centre. Buge had frequented the theatre in his youth in the 1950s and had vowed to one day manage it. He later recalled that he was married on a Saturday and spent all the next day painting the front of the cinema in preparation for its reopening.
Fig 5. Patrons contemplate their options on advice that the Theatre is closed on 15 October for a preview event of 'Captains Table' placing this most likely in 1965. (State Library of SA
During these years the theatre was also used by community groups for fund raising film screenings. In 1992 it underwent a $60,000 upgrade and operated in 1993-2000 as the Lockleys Odeon Star.
Fig 6. In decline (LSMC collection)
From July 2000 the theatre again became part of the Windsor cinema group. However, by 2012, the cost of re-equipping with modern digital projection technology meant the viability of the centre had been compromised. On 30 August 2012 the Lockleys cinema again closed for the last time.
Fig 7. In the 'engine room' of the cinema - the projection room (West Torrens Historical Society)
Lockleys RSL Sub Branch
The Lockleys sub-branch of the RSL was formed in July 1935, and used the Memorial Hall for meetings and activities along with a number of other organisations. Ownership of the Hall was formally vested in the Lockleys Soldiers’ Memorial Hall Inc in January 1946.
For many years the RSL Sub Branch met in the Basement of what had by then become the Cinema.
The basement was built over during the last major reconfiguration of the cinema, when the stage was moved further towards the rear of the building. The basement or cellar was under the area occupied by the original stage. Its precise location was lost until 2018 when 94 yo Laurie Gillespie pointed out to Council staff that they were "looking in the wrong place!" and shortly afterwards, it was located.
Laurie also suggested that a surreptitious poker school used to meet behind the screen on movie nights, their nefarious activities illuminated by the reflected light from the screen!
Clubrooms were built at the rear of the hall at the same time, which became the home of the Lockleys RSL sub-Branch. The resulting building, in combination with the Memorial Hall / cinema, was known as the Lockleys Servicemen's Memorial Centre.
Ownership of the centre was formally vested in Lockleys Servicemen’s Memorial Centre Inc (LSMC) in February 1954.
With the cinema subject to wavering viability in the face of television, and later home entertainmnet options like VHS tapes, CDs and most recently internet streaming services, the one constant remained the RSL sub-Branch and their regular 'tea nights' when volunteers turned on meals and bar service did a brisk trade.
However, the march of time was relentless and with patronage and viability of the cinema fading, the LSMC transferred ownership of the adjacent land and the cinema complex for no monetary consideration to the West Torrens Council in October 1991, in exchange for rennovations and an extension to the RSL part of the complex (comprising an office and administrative facilities).
The Lockleys Sub Branch wound up in 2018 after the last of its Members decided to conduct an orderly termination of their affairs. Under President Ian Patterson and Treasurer Lyle Tyler, the Sub Branch Charter and funds for the continuing support of a new generation of veterans were returned to the RSL State Branch.
Fig 8. RSL facilitator Steve Larkins, Lockleys Sub Branch Vice President Jeff Powers and Treasurer Lyle Tyler return the Sub Branch Charters on the winding up of the Sub Branch to and RSL State Branch President Bronson Horan in August 2018. (LSMC)
The sub Branch also appointed new committee members for the re-constituted Lockleys Servicemens Memorial Centre Inc committee.
The LSMC was charged with the sale of the sub-Branch 'slice' of the premises back to the Council, as part of a re-development of Mellor Reserve (see below)
When the Committee was first founded in 1922, key objects included the desire to 'to memorialise those residents of Lockleys and the surrounding district who enlisted in World War 1 (and World War II - added in a redraft post WW2) '.
Another original object was 'To provide recreation and amusement for the people of Lockleys and the surrounding district and to promote and encourage literature, science and art for, and amongst, them'.
Proceeds were used to fund a grant to Lockleys Primary School, to enable the re-development of the School Library to improve its utility and to incorporate a perpetual display of memorabilia commemorating 'old scholars' who formed part of the service personnel community of the district.
Fig 9. Lockleys RSL sub Branch Treasurer Lyle Tyler with students of Lockleys Primary School, August 2018 (Advertiser Newspaper)
Other projects include the consolidation of Memorials in the area and correlation with the records of people from the district who have served the nation as members of the armed services in two world wars.
The re-developed Mellor Reserve will include a memorial to commemorate the physical presence of the Hall and cinema, in concert with the material now captured, linked and presented via the Virtual War Memorial Australia.
Additional projects will be undertaken, including a proposed exhibition, until the residual funds are expired.
A memorial commemorating the presence of the Hall, Cinema and RSL sub branch on Mellor Reserve, as a key part of the community for 83 years, is included in the re-development plan.
Mellor Reserve re-development 2021
Thanks to the following for their assistance in compiling this tribute page: Mr Lyle Tyler, Lockleys RSL sub Branch, Mr John Gray and the West Torrens Historical Society, and Ms Lynnette Bacchus, West Torrens City Council Librarian.