About Gladesville RSL & the Club Industry
Licensed Clubs provide a great social outlet to get together with friends and family, but we are so much more.
We are not-for-profit, member-based organisations that exist to provide facilities and services to the community and further a core purpose, such as supporting sporting activities or veterans’ welfare.
At Gladesville RSL we help promote darts, snooker, golf, karate and dance. We provide funding for veterans’ welfare services. We honour our military history through youth education programs and memorials within the Club. We help the community by contributing to support bodies such as Sydney Community Services, Giant Steps and Gladesville Gymnastics.
Whilst we would love to see you at Gladesville RSL, your visit to any of the fantastic Clubs in the Ryde area helps each of us to continue providing valuable support to our local community in a number of ways.
Please support your local Club!
History of Gladesville RSL
Since forming in 1921, Gladesville RSL Sub Branch were determined to erect a Memorial Hall that would do honour to those who died in the Great War. From 1928 the Sub Branch were permitted use of an abandoned Fire Station hut on Victoria Rd to meet. Whilst they could not get title to this land, they were told they could have the hut if they moved it somewhere else.
In search of land, they found a block that was empty due to fire and negotiated it’s purchase in 1935 for £204. Early one Sunday morning, and without permits, Sub Branch members attempted to relocated the hut along Victoria Rd to Linsley St. The move was not as secret as planned, with the hut becoming jammed as it turned into Linsley St. With the help of passers-by in their Sunday best on their way to Church, the hut eventually made it home.
The hut was far from adequate so attention immediately went to fundraising and seeking Government support to build a suitable Memorial Hall. On Saturday 14 May 1938 a large crowd gathered for the opening of the “Gladesville and District Returned Sailors and Soldiers Club and Grand Memorial Hall”.
The original building was two stories high with the ground floor being the entry annexe leading into the Memorial Hall with upstairs being the Club. The first Club had its shortcomings, most significantly the bar having no refrigeration. Wooden barrels were stored in an underground cool room, then hand winched up to the first floor and rolled across the lounge to the bar.
The Hall was put to good use. Every Friday was a well-attended housie (bingo) night and was also popular for dances and parties. Upstairs the Club provided cold beer, a friendly game of cards or snooker, the odd bet with the S.P. bookie and two slightly illegal and unreliable “fruit machines”.
The outbreak of World War II in 1939 stimulated a greater volume of public interest in the RSL than ever before. The Club and Sub Branch also assisted hundreds of servicemen and their families through their Welfare Fund and the Gladesville Comforts Fund. Club members gave unstintingly of their time, as well as money, visiting hospitals, aiding widows and organizing fundraising functions.
In 1950, Gladesville RSL Sub Branch established a Boy’s Club, which lead to a Girl’s Club being set up in 1954. The two Clubs eventually combined into the Youth Club, an initiative which was to be the foundation of the state-wide RSL Youth Club movement. The Gladesville RSL Sub Branch can be justly proud of having begun such a tradition of service to the community. In 2014 when the Sub Branch requested assistance, Gladesville RSL & Community Club were happy to take over operations.
Since 1950 a number of youth activities have been offered by the Club including ballroom dancing, baton twirlers, band, soccer, swimming, cricket and gymnastics. Over 70 years later, the Gladesville RSL Youth Club still offers dance and karate.
Whilst externally there were not many changes to the building, internal renovations to the Club were constant in the following decades. The most significant upgrade to the Club was in 1974 with the addition of a 2rd floor and a most welcome elevator.
Renovations have always been a feature in the history of Gladesville RSL as facilities are improved for the benefit of Members, with the most recent ground floor and façade improvement being completed in October 2020.
Whilst there have been many changes in over 80 years since the Club has been operating, the one constant has been the support of veterans and the community. The most recent refurbishment included improvements to the foyer memorial, including a 6ft bronze statue of a WWII digger. Included on the façade is a poppy wall as a memorial to those who gave their lives. In tribute to our past the ground floor lounge was named “Estaminet”. A nod to the rustic charm of homes of Northern France and Belgium which were converted to provide soldiers with much needed respite from the Western Front.