Club winding up after 34 years as lease not renewed

End of an era . . . St Kilda Community Hall Club president Sandra Dingwall and club stalwart Les Jackson are among those who will farewell the club, which is winding up after 35 years. PHOTO: BRENDA HARWOOD

After 34 years’ stewardship over its local community hall, the St Kilda Community Hall Club is winding up.

Club president Sandra Dingwall said the move was prompted by the Dunedin City Council’s decision not to renew the club’s lease when it expires on June 30.

Instead, the hall is to be operated by a group of residents from the neighbouring Victoria Rd council flats.

Ms Dingwall said the hall would continue to be used by groups from the local community, but it was the “end of an era” for the club.

“It is quite sad. The club has put a huge amount of work and money into the hall over the years,” she said.

“It is a meeting point and a great facility for the community – many people enjoy it.”

DCC property services group manager David Bainbridge said council had taken the expiration of the lease as an opportunity to review the position in regards to the hall.

“There is a group of local residents that are willing to administer the use of the hall going forward, and we felt this was a better option for the community,” Mr Bainbridge said.

The council would be supporting the residents in the operation of the hall, and groups using the space at present could continue to do so, he said.

The St Kilda Community Hall Club started almost accidentally in 1985, as a way to make use of a building that was threatened with demolition.

The hall had originally been part of the Central Battery and was used as temporary accommodation for migrants after World War 2.

After a public meeting supported a proposal to form a community club based at the hall, it began to be used as a meeting place for a broad range of groups – from a card group and an art group to a garden club.

Ms Dingwall said the exterior of the hall had been cared for by the council over the years and the club had taken responsibility for the inside.

St Kilda Community Hall Club stalwart Les Jackson (94) and his late wife Ola had a long involvement in the hall.

After his retirement from the building trade, he put a lot of his energy into making furniture for the hall and renovating the interior, Mr Jackson said.

“It was a great project for us in retirement. It was very enjoyable and it kept us very busy,” he said.

Mr Jackson paid tribute to former councillor Anne Turvey for her long-standing support for the hall and the club.

The St Kilda Community Hall Club will host a farewell function at the hall, from 10.30am on Thursday, June 6.

All past and present members of the club are welcome to attend.