By City of Charles Sturt
The Lady Galway Clubhouse for returned soldiers opened in the January of 1916. It was located on the beachfront at Henley South, just south of Gilmore Road.
Purchase of the land, construction of the building, and its fit out was funded by public donations and fundraising. Managed by the Navy & Army Department of the YMCA the clubhouse provided a place of convalescence for returned sick or injured soldiers, sailors and nurses. The building was named in recognition of the support provided by Lady Marie Carola Franciska Roselyne Galway, the wife of then South Australian Governor Sir Henry Galway.
On opening, the clubhouse boasted six rooms including a ‘spacious social assembly apartment, in which lounges, game tables, cosy armchairs and reading matter abound’, and a roof promenade that offered a ‘most delightful seaward outlook.’ It was declared that the clubhouse and the public effort behind it gave ‘the soldiers greater courage to know that the people at home were thinking of them.’
Clubhouse fundraising continued throughout the war. A fundraising concert was given by returned soldiers in early 1917. Soldiers performed a number of patriotic songs such as ‘Keep the Home-Fires Burning’ and ‘England’s Honour’. The Mail newspaper (20 January 1917), in giving an overview, noted of one singer; ‘it was pathetic to see this gallant soldier, who has fought in four wars and lost a leg and the use of one arm, assisted to the front of the stage by his comrades’.
In 1919, the clubhouse and its management was handed over to the Red Cross. A 1930 brochure promoted the clubhouse as ‘a comfortable resort for returned men of all ranks who may need a rest’. They could enjoy a billiards room, ‘Wireless Installation’ and a bath house.
By the time the late 30s rolled around, convalescent services were being consolidated at Keswick. With the Lady Galway Clubhouse averaging only 10 patients per week, the decision was made by the Red Cross to convert the Clubhouse to a children’s home.