Lenah Valley RSL

Club History

NOTE: Work in progress. Information gained primarily from TROVE Digitised newspapers (http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?afterLoad=ndp:browse/title&state=Tasmania) with the majority of entries originally obtained from The Mercury Newspaper (Hobart). Any help that members and friends can give us in relation to the history of LVRSL will be gratefully received.

  • The Nuremberg trials were underway and concluded on 1 October 1946 with the defendants generally claiming ignorance of a larger plan and distancing themselves from the chain of command. Most admitted to the crimes of which they were accused, but claimed they were following orders.
  • The International Military Tribunal for the Far East (IMTFE), also known as the Tokyo Trials or the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, was convened on April 29, 1946 (adjourned on November 12, 1948).
  • Donald Trump, Bill Clinton and George Walker Bush were born.
  • In Australia, Foundation Day (26 January) was renamed Australia Day.
  • The Premier of Tasmania was Robert Cosgrove and the population of Tasmania was about 250,000 (at the census held in 1947 the population was 257,078).
  • Lenah Valley had not yet been proclaimed a suburb of Hobart (that happened in March 1948) although there had been residential development over the preceding 50 years. According to Wikipedia “Lenah Valley was originally known as Kangaroo Bottom, later Kangaroo Valley. Lenah is the native Aboriginal word for kangaroo”.


History of the Lenah Valley RSL – Formed Wednesday 27th February 1946


The Mercury (‘RSL Sub Branch For Lenah Valley’) reported on Friday 1 March 1946 that “A new sub-branch of the RSL, was formed at Lenah Valley on Wednesday. More than 20 members, representing both World Wars, were present. Mr E. Dean presided. Mr L.R. Lucke (President of the Kingborough sub-branch), Major J.A. Turnbull, Messrs H. Whittle, W. Michael, P. Everett and T. Cairnduff and others spoke in support of the new branch.

The following committee was appointed:-

President:- Mr E.E. Dean

Vice Presidents:- Major J.A. Turnbull, Mr T. Cairnduff

Vice-patron:- Mr. P. Everard

Secretary:- Mr L. Wharmby

Committee:- Messrs:- H. Morey, Bomford, Donaldson, Cashmore, A. Dale, Wyatt, H. Hornsby, T. Street, Carey, W.F. Walker, P. Everett, and D. MacKenzie.

The Mercury (‘Lenah Valley RSL Sub Branch’) reported on Tuesday 19th March 1946 that “The first general quarterly meeting of the RSSAILA was held in the Haig St Church Hall on Wednesday evening. Mr E E Dean presided. Major E E von Bibra undertook to draft copies of a constitution suitable to the branch. It was decided to hold all future meetings on the first Tuesday of each month”.

The Mercury (‘Lenah Valley RSL Has 60 Members’) reported on Thursday 4th April 1946 that “At the first committee meeting of the Lenah Valley RSL seven members were enrolled, bringing the membership to 60. Mr Harry Morey was elected secretary in place of Mr L Wharmby, who resigned because of increased secretarial duties. The proposed constitution was considered and alterations and additions will be submitted to the next general meeting. Mr Ellis Dean presided”.

The Mercury (‘RSL Action To Aid Members’) reported on Friday 7 June 1946 that “A women’s auxiliary was formed”.

The Mercury (‘Support For Nurses’ Holiday Home’) reported on Thursday 5 September 1946 that “At a well - attended quarterly general meeting of the Lenah Valley sub-branch RSL in the Lenah Valley School on Tuesday night it was resolved to support wholeheartedly the proposed returned nurses’ holiday home at St Helens.

Members’ wives formed a women’s social auxiliary with the following officers:

President: Mrs J A Turnbull

Vice Presidents: Mesd C Street, H Donaldson

Secretary: Mrs C G Bumford

Assistant Secretary: Miss P Bumford

Treasurer: Mrs B H Whittle

Committee: Mesdames J E Cochrane, T Cairnduff, O J Sternberg, G Cashmore, R Ferguson, E E Dean, C Arnold, Misses L Smith and J Donaldson.”


There was considerable discussion during 1947 in relation to widening the eligibility for league membership ‘to admit other than those who served overseas or in combat areas’. A Special General Meeting of LVRSL held in February 1947 voted unanimously to oppose the proposal.

On 21 October 1947 The Mercury reported on the funeral of one of LVRSL’s foundation members Mr Herbert Donaldson. ‘Pallbearers were Messrs J A Turnbull (president) C S Smith (secretary), G Cashmore, W Irvine, C Bumford, C Street, L R O’Neal, E E Dean, G Carter, T Cairnduff all representing the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the RSL.’

The Mercury (‘Lenah Valley RSL Auxiliary Raises 122 [Pounds]’) reported on Wednesday 3 December 1947 that “The first annual meeting of the women’s auxiliary of the Lenah Valley sub – branch of the RSL was held yesterday afternoon. Reports showed that 122 [Pounds] was raised during the year, and that there were 50 members. The President (Mrs J A Turnbull) stressed the need for continued efforts. The RSL sub – branch president and past president (Messrs J A Turnbull and E E Dean) paid tribute to the service being rendered by the auxiliary”.


Lenah Valley was proclaimed a suburb of Hobart on Saturday 20 March 1948 (reported Monday 22 March 1948). ‘Development of the area from apple orchards to a residential suburb over the previous 50 years was recalled by (Lord Mayor) Mr Osborne’.

The Mercury (‘Big Rise In R.S.L. Members’) reported on Thursday 25th November 1948 that “Membership of the Lenah Valley sub branch of the R.S.L. (LVRSL) had increased by almost 50% (assumed to 90 members) stated a report presented at the annual meeting of the sub-branch in the Creek Rd schoolroom. The President (Mr G Cashmore) presided. A surplus of 80 pounds in general funds was reported. It was resolved that 50 pounds be transferred from general funds to the building fund and that efforts be made to raise further money for the establishment of club rooms”.


First Clubrooms

The Mercury (‘Lenah Valley RSL To Have Rooms’) reported on Wednesday 23 March 1949 that “Plans for holding a fair and children’s concert to raise funds for the building of club rooms were discussed at a meeting of the Lenah Valley RSL sub–branch last night. The President (Mr C S Arnol) said the sub-branch was awaiting the decision of the city council on a block of land in the district on which to build the proposed club rooms. Apparently, he said, there had been some opposition to the proposed site because the area might be wanted for park alienation. He believed the Reserves Committee of the council would consider shortly the sub branch’s claim for the land.

The Mercury (‘Memorial Hall At Lenah Valley’) reported on Thursday 26 May 1949 that “Permission has been granted the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L to erect its War Memorial Hall in Haldane Reserve. This reserve was donated to the city several years ago by Mr N.J.B. Plomley, now curator of the Launceston Museum. Mr. Plomley made a condition that any use of the land, other than for a public reserve, was to be subject to the consent of Parliament. This authority will be sought when Parliament resumes in September. Mr Plomley has agreed to the hall being erected in the area, provided that no portion of the reserve is sold”.

Late in 1949 the Hobart Corporation Bill was passed ‘empowering the council to lease a portion of Haldane Reserve to the Lenah Valley Branch of the RSL for a war memorial’.


The Mercury (‘RSL Membership Increased’) reported on Tuesday 31 January 1950 that “Membership of the RSL Lenah Valley sub-branch increased to nearly 200 in the past year, stated a report presented at the annual meeting. The balance sheet showed a credit of 537 [pounds] compared with 147 [pounds] last year.


Pat Murnane Memorial Hall, Athleen Avenue, Lenah Valley.

phoca thumb l1 pat murnane community hall"The hall was built in 1951 by members of the Lenah Valley RSL club and was used as the clubrooms for many years until the adjacent tea-rooms was purchased and new clubrooms erected on the site…... The hall was named the Pat Murnane Memorial Hall in memory of club secretary/manager, Pat Murnane who died unexpectedly of a heart attack. Annual Anzac Day ceremonies continue to be held at the memorial.”

Source: City of Hobart:



phoca thumb l1 pat murnane community hallAt the time the Hall was built the LVRSL President was Laurence Roy O’Neal. Roy’s grandson Cameron notes that “In the annual report of January 1952, Roy reported the wonderful effort of the committee and the community in raising enough funds to build the new Lenah Valley Memorial Hall which is now known as the Pat Murnane Hall.

A whopping £500 was raised from fairs and food stalls and Roy advised donations could be left at his grocery store.

A special grant of £750 was provided by the Tasmanian Government and a further £500 loan was borrowed from the Hobart City Council.

Generous donations of building materials and services rendered for free by key trades ensured the final cost of construction came in under budget.

Roy made special mention of the electrician who wired the hall, a Mr Geeves, who he added wasn’t even a member of the club.

Source: Cameron, grandson of Roy O’Neal.

phoca thumb l1 pat murnane community hall 2022The Mercury (‘New Clubrooms For RSL’) reported on Friday 21 December 1951 that “The Lenah Valley sub-branch of the RSL now had new clubrooms, officially opened this week by the State President (Mr L R Lucke). During the function members of the Women’s Auxiliary and the local branch of the CWA conducted an American tea, the proceeds of which will assist the cost of furnishing the premises. RSL members praised the work of the sub-branch president (Mr R H O’Neal) in connection with the provision of new clubrooms.

Liquor Licence Saga

The Mercury (‘Council Rejects Bid by RSL For Liquor Licence’) reported on Tuesday 26 August 1952 that “The Hobart City Council last night turned down an application by the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L. for permission to seek a liquor licence for its club rooms on Haldane Reserve. The application drew the council's attention to the poll on the sale of liquor on council reserves in May, which favoured the granting of liquor licences to approved ex-servicemen's clubs established on council property.

Moving a reserves committee report on the application, Ald. Anderson said the council "had no choice in the matter" in view of the circumstances in which it gained possession of the reserve.

The committee reported that the reserve was donated by a citizen who later agreed to the erection of the War Memorial Hall.

A condition of the lease was that no alcoholic liquor of any kind was to be sold or consumed on the premises without the consent of the council.

The donor had told the committee he was against the granting of a licence for the club rooms.

He said that no suggestion of a licence was made to him in discussions with sub-branch representatives, and if it had been made, he would not have given further consideration to the lease.


Ignore Poll

The committee recommended that the sub-branch be informed that the council could not heed the result of the poll in dealing with their application.

The wishes of the donor must be respected, and a full investigation had shown there was an understanding that there was to be no licence on the reserve

Ald. Loftus-Hills said he would like to congratulate the donor, Mr. N. J. B. Plomley, on his refusal to alter his decision about the licence despite the pressure of public opinion.

The Mercury (‘Licence For RSL Club Urged’) reported on Thursday 6 May 1954 that “A public meeting in the Hobart Town Hall last night carried a motion that the Hobart City Council should grant a liquor licence to the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L.

The motion said that the meeting of R.S.L. members, and ratepayers, expressed keen disappointment that the council had failed to comply with the wishes of the ratepayers, as expressed by the referendum held on the matter in May, 1952.

The president of the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L. (Mr. M. A. Jacobson) said that the original donor of the land now had no legal control over what the council did with it.

If' the council was to carry its work out properly it would have to abide by the wishes of the people at the referendum.

The matter will be discussed at the next meeting of the council.

The Mercury (‘”Moral” Issue Over Licence’) reported on Friday 4 June 1954 that “The Reserves Committee of the Hobart City Council, although not unanimous on the matter, will recommend to the Hobart City Council that it does not agree to a liquor licence being granted the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L.

This was stated yesterday by the chairman of the Reserves Committee (Ald. Gray, M.L.C.).

His comments followed the adoption of a resolution by a public meeting, calling on the council to agree to the sub- branch applying for a club licence for its hall, which is erected on the council's reserve at Lenah Valley.

The Mercury (‘City Council Adjourns Debate On RSL Licence Move’) reported on Tuesday 8 June 1954 that “The Hobart City Council adjourned its debate last night on a proposal to amend the existing agreement to permit the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L. to apply for a liquor licence.

The Reserves Committee reported that a public meeting at the Hobart Town Hall on May 5 adopted a resolution urging the council to grant the club a licence.

The resolution had pointed out that a referendum among ratepayers had been in favour of granting the club a licence.

The committee said it had considered this, but it held the opinion that the council held a moral obligation to respect the wishes of the citizen who donated the land and who was opposed to the granting of a liquor licence.

It recommended no amendment to the existing agreement which would allow the club to apply for a liquor licence.

Study Of File

Ald Hughes reported at length on his study of the file of correspondence, which, he said, showed that the land, known as Haldane Reserve, was given by Mr. Plomley to be used solely for a reserve or park unless otherwise authorised by Parliament.

Mr. Plomley had stated that costs of the transfer were to be borne by the council, that his family should have the right of access to the reserve, and that public utilities should be allowed to be taken across the land.

After dealing with certain items of correspondence, Ald. Hughes said that when the Lenah Valley R.S.L. expressed a desire to build on the reserve in 1948. Mr. Plomley objected but eventually agreed.

"Some reference was made to the possibility of the club asking for the right to apply for a liquor licence at some later date," said Ald. Hughes, "but we are given to understand they rejected that and were not anxious about it at all.

"You as a council are morally bound under an obligation to stick to the conditions you accepted. It would be immoral to alter them." he added in moving the adoption of the committee's recommendation.

Ald. McCann said he would support the existing agreement if the original letter provided for no sale of liquor. However, he thought it was an after- thought and if that were so, Mr. Plomley had no leg to stand on.

The men were entitled to have their convivial gatherings. They had gone away to fight for Australia, and he was opposed to anyone interfering with the liberty of the subject.

Ald. Lipscombe, moved the matter be adjourned so that the new aldermen could study the file.

If the sale of liquor was opposed in the original letter by Mr. Plomley, the rights of the donor should be respected, but if not, then the rights of electors, who two years ago supported licences being granted to R.S.L. clubs, should be observed.

Ald. Gray seconded the motion for the adjournment of the debate, saying that the full story was contained on the file.

Sir Richard Harris said aldermen should study the original title. "There is nothing there which says you shall not have liquor on the land." he said.

"This report says we have a moral obligation, but what better moral obligation have we than to those who told us what to do at the poll two years ago?"

Ald. Chesterman said he had studied the file. "I suggest that Mr. Plomley would possibly have never objected or never thought of liquor had it not been suggested, to him." he said.

The poll taken on liquor licences two years ago was not voted on indiscriminately. A majority of 300 opposed licences for bowling clubs but a majority of 500 favoured licences for R.S.L. clubs.

The Mercury (‘Liquor Licence Move Rejected By Council’) reported on Tuesday 29 June 1954 that “The Hobart City Council, by six votes to four, last night agreed not to allow the Lenah Valley sub-branch of the R.S.L. to apply for a liquor licence.

The council voted on a Reserves Committee recommendation that its agreement with the club not be amended to allow it to apply for a liquor licence.

The voting for the recommendation was.-For: Aldermen Saunders, Gray, Hughes, Osborne, Mitchell, and Miller. Against: Aldermen McCann, Lipscombe, Jackson, and Chesterman.

The public gallery of the council chambers was packed as the council debated the matter, and several people had to stand.

Earlier, the council had agreed to another Reserves Committee recommendation that a delegate from the club not be allowed to address the council on the matter.

In its report, the committee said it would be improper to allow any person to address open council when the item was dealt with.

Ald. Lipscombe said that although he had some misgivings, he was in favour of the club being allowed to apply for a licence.

He said he felt the club had misled people from the outset of the negotiations.

The club had known that it was not entitled to a licence.

He had inspected the site and could see no evidence of that having been done.

"They went on to this ground knowing they could not get a licence, but they asked the public and the public said they could have it," he added.

Ald Osborne said a solicitor had told him that the result of the poll of ratepayers in favour of granting a licence did not make it obligatory on the council to allow the club to apply for a licence.

Ald. Saunders said that the donor of the land on which the club was situated had on three occasions "definitely and emphatically" said that had he known an application for a liquor licence would be made, he would not have granted the land.

Ald. McCann said it was a matter of principle.

A majority of the ratepayers had been in favour of the club having a liquor licence.

"What right have we to turn around now and refuse a licence - it is absolutely wrong." he said.

"We are not looking after the interests of the rate-payers if we declare just the opposite to what their wishes are.

"This is a majority-we must have a majority rule," he added.

Ald. Jackson said he thought the application was a worthy one and it had his wholehearted support.

Ald. Mabel Miller said that had several facts been made known to the ratepayers who voted at the poll, the result might have been different.

"What would be the position if this council broke a contract no one would be prepared to enter into any agreement with the council," Ald. Miller added.

Ald. Gray said the donor of the land was utterly opposed to a liquor licence.

There was some excuse for new aldermen supporting the application as they might not be aware of all the facts.

Ald. Chesterman said the council's main responsibility was to the ratepayers, who had made their wishes known at the poll.

He considered that granting the application would be no repudiation of any agreement with the donor of the land.

The Lord Mayor (Ald. Park, M.H.A.) said the council would be breaking no agreement.

Since the donor had given the land he had brought up other conditions to be complied with.

Ald. Hughes said it was absurd and illogical to say that there was nothing in the terms of the title saying that liquor should not be sold on the land.

The land was intended for a reserve.

The reserve was administered under, governing conditions, so that the result of the poll did not give the council a mandate to grant the application.

"To anybody with a judicial mind the verdict is quite clear," he added.


Move to Current site

The LYRSL ultimately moved to its current site at 188 Lenah Valley Road (previously tea rooms) which it has continually redeveloped over the last 50 odd years.

There are gaps in our knowledge of what took place and the sequence of events in the move from the Pat Murnane Memorial Hall to 188 Lenah Valley Road.

The official opening of 188 Lenah Valley Road took place on 18th August 1973. The Clubrooms were opened by the State President of the RSLA Mr R G Piggott OBE. At the time the President was Mr Wallace Grubb and the Secretary Mr E J Burke.

However, the transfer as per the title deed indicates that the transfer was to THE LENAH VALLEY SUB-BRANCH AND CLUB OF THE R. & S.L.A. (INC) and this was registered on the 25-Nov-1994. This suggests that the property may have been initially purchased by the League.


In the Annual Report (YE 31 December 1987) President Vern McTye noted that “The upgrading of our cenotaph has emerged as a very fine memorial to our fallen comrades” and that “A major event for our Branch this last year was to host the State Congress”.


In the Annual Report (YE 31 December 2006) President Don Grace noted that “We have applied for and received a number of grants through DVA. These consist of a new kitchen for $51,000. heating for $7,000 and a grant to update the honours board”.

Source: Information gained primarily from TROVE Digitised newspapers (http://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/?afterLoad=ndp:browse/title&state=Tasmania) with the majority of entries originally obtained from The Mercury Newspaper (Hobart).

Any help that members and friends can give us in relation to the history of LVRSL will be gratefully received.



Thanks very much to our sponsors: