Broadwater Riley’s Hill Community Hall
It’s hard to believe that in 1915 Broadwater boasted 5 halls: Byrne Hall at Rattle Creek, Good Templars Lodge Hall on Law’s Hill, Manchester Unity Oddfellows Hall in Little Pitt Street, Masonic Hall next to the BP Service Station and the Grand United Oddfellows Hall, known as the Albert Hall built on the riverfront where the weighbridge stands.
Over the years four of the halls either burnt down and were not rebuilt, or demolished due to declining attendance when they were condemned. However the Albert Hall continued to serve the community well for over 50 years. It was adjacent to the Royal Hotel and as Broadwater was a hard working sugar mill town most labourers ended their day with a cold drink or two. The hall hosted most of the family events in the town and would certainly have had a tale or two to tell.
Albert hall was demolished around 1964 and most celebrations were then held in the Mill Hall of the Sunshine Sugar Cooperative Sugar Mill. It was really a lunchroom and resting place for the mill workers but despite the limited facilities, school concerts and Santa were top entertainment at the end of each year. Crowds would be looking in the windows as the children sang and danced on the small stage.
It was only when the CSR hall moved to the opposite side of the road and showed signs of deterioration from over use that concerns were raised about the lack of a venue for family entertainment.
Local councillor Reg Waters took concerns to council and in 1995 a site was chosen in Little Pitt Street and the building began. One of the largest crowds attended on September 7 1996 when the Broadwater Riley’s Hill Hall was officially opened by Mayor Col Sullivan and Deputy Mayor Reg Waters. Past residents returned for a cup of tea with old friends and a chance to enjoy the magnificent facility. There was much yarn spinning of the “good old days”. Next year there will be one great party as the community to celebrates the history of their town and the 20th birthday of the present hall. There will be so much to tell.
– Betty Archer