Residents fought hard in the early 1960s to stop Sutherland District Trade Union Club (Tradies) opening at Gymea.
The club was registered in October,1960, although it did not begin operating until the following year.
‘‘The club was founded by a group of trade unionists, who, before that, had met in different halls over a period of five to six years,’’ long-time director Bob Rogers recalled on the 50th anniversary in 2010.
‘‘They were just a group of like-minded people who started off wanting a meeting room and then thought it would also be good to have social facilities where they could play indoor bowls and darts and that sort of thing.’’
The founders initially looked at buying the Astron Ballroom in the Gymea shopping centre but were deterred by a number of problems, including parking.
They decided instead to buy a house and adjoining vacant land on the corner of Kingsway and Manchester Road from a Mr Len Jones, who continued to live there for some time.
A lending library was among facilities that were introduced.
Leader reports from the time said the first application for a liquor licence was rejected because the club had not started occupying the premises.
The club applied a second time to the Licensing Court in 1962 after the Labor-controlled council gave approval for the premises to be occupied.
The application resulted in a mandatory notification to local residents, who strongly opposed the application.
They presented the court with a petition signed by 200 people from 135 homes in which 271 children lived.
Despite their protests, the licence was granted.
There was further outrage when the club, which was flush with funds following the advent of poker machines, proposed in early 1965 an extension to the converted house.
Proposed additions included an auditorium, dining room and other rooms.
The council deferred a decision several times while council and club officials unsuccessfully investigated alternative sites.
Approval was finally given in April, 1966, after the club submitted a revised application, which included sound proofing measures.
Residents told of the problems the club had brought to their quiet residential area, including drunken behaviour, noise, children being left in parked cars and people urinating in the open.
One woman told the Leader she had “seen more of life” from living near the club than she had ever intended to see.
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