Looking back to the early 1900’s many professional people lived in the cool of the hills and used the train to commute to Adelaide, as the road networks weren’t what they are today. Once these working professionals returned home they couldn’t return to the city as there were no late passenger train services back into the city.
This social isolation from the city life led to discussions by the commuters as to what could be done to improve local social activities. Also to keep the youth out of mischief, channelling their energies to positive, healthy effect.
A committee was formed and with much favour towards the development in 1903 an institute was erected on the corner of Coromandel Parade and Garnett Avenue. The funds for the four lots purchased came from a local Belair gentleman Alexander Downer. He paid £30 for the building that was known as The Blackwood, Coromandel and Belair Boy’s Club. Clubrooms were incorporated and these were open almost every night of the week. The Literary Society division of the committee produced a monthly edition of “The Blackwood Magazine” in 1914.
The club particularly benefited the youth of Blackwood, “where the bracing effects of the climate seem to produce an extra supply of surplus energy, and the need was strongly felt of a channel where this energy could be expressed more fittingly than by the little acts of mischief of which some of us were the constant victims.”
The name ‘Boys Club’ is something of a misnomer, for the Club catered for girls as well, and provided a Centre for many community activities involving adults.
Within a short time of its foundation various sporting activities were under way. These included gymnastics, roller skating, basketball (netball) and billiards. There was a football club and tennis club associated with the club and social events were held from time to time for the specific benefit of the groups.
Other highlights include the establishment of a brass band in 1911, where all members had to belong to the club. In 1921 the movies came to Blackwood and the Hall was used as a picture theatre on Saturday nights.
World War I and World War II had considerable impact on the development of the Club and its members and for some time it fell into expected decline. Across these periods there are unsurprisingly few records. However, many fundraising initiatives were carried out for the Australian Red Cross.