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History of Banyo School of Arts Memorial Hall

The Hub of our Community -

the story of the Banyo School of Arts Memorial Hall

(written by Elizabeth Nunn and presented as the text of the history display at the opening of the Bandstand in Banyo Memorial Park on Saturday, 23 March 2013)

The Early Fundraising Years

The Banyo School of Arts was first mentioned in Brisbane newspapers in 1917. That was when articles began appearing about events in aid of the building fund for the proposed School of Arts.

One of the first activities was a Garden Fete. It was held in Banyo on Saturday, 31 March 1917. It was a major event for the community, and was opened by Mr Thomas Bridges, M.L.A., Member for Nundah.

The Fete was followed by a series of Concerts, Socials, and Dances. Many were held in the Nudgee School of Arts (which opened in 1914). Fundraising events were also held in the Nundah School of Arts, and in the Paddington School of Arts, ten miles (16 kilometres) away.

A year after the Fete, Corporal H. E. Sizer, M.L.A., Member for Nundah, officially opened the Banyo School of Arts Tennis Court on Saturday, 30 March 1918.

In August 1918, the Banyo School of Arts Committee became aware that a Banyo property, at the junction of St Vincents Road and Royal Parade, owned by Mrs Martha Woodward, a Sandgate resident, was for sale. The land, which was purchased by Thomas Woodward in 1914, was transferred to his widow after his death on 31 August 1916.

After several weeks of consideration, the Committee purchased the land for £110 in September 1918. At the time of the purchase, the Banyo School of Arts Trustees were Joe Bertwistle, Alfred Stephenson, and George William Holland. One year later, William Briggs replaced Joe Bertwistle.

It took more than six years to build the hall after the land had been purchased. During that time, there were three committees. And, when the building was completed, the land was set aside as a Reserve for School of Arts Purposes under the control of the Trustees.

Official Opening and Enlargement

His Excellency the Governor (Sir Matthew Nathan) officially opened the Banyo Memorial School of Arts on Saturday, 14 March 1925.

The Governor urged the community to fill the Library shelves with good books. He also noted that the (World War One) Honour Board had been installed in the hall. That was the reason the word ‘Memorial' had been added to the name of the building.

Also hanging in the hall for His Excellency to view was a portrait of the late Mrs Emma Purchase that had been presented by her family. Mrs Purchase was an original committee member, but had died on 07 November 1921, more than three years before her efforts could be recognised.

Finally, the Governor encouraged the community to quickly clear the building debt and to then collect additional funds to build the enlargement that was necessary to make the hall more functional.

The hall was closed so that the enlargement work could be undertaken. Community volunteers assisted with the work, and when that work had been completed, the building was officially re-opened by Alderman T. G. Payne, Nundah Ward, on Saturday, 04 June 1932. More than two hundred and fifty people attended the important local event.

Church services began in the hall as soon as it was opened. Two weeks after the opening, the Baptist Association of Queensland began Evening Services in the hall. The Anglican Church Mission conducted Services in the hall from April 1925 until July 1927. In 1927, the hall hosted a Garden Fete that was held to augment funds to build the Anglican Church Hall at Banyo. St Oswald's Anglican Church was officially opened on Sunday, 17 February 1929. Later in 1929, a Concert was held in the hall in aid of funds for the proposed Baptist Church.

Activities Throughout the Decades

Two months after the opening, the hall became a nominated Polling Place. On that first occasion, electors were required to decide whether the sale of intoxicating liquors should be prohibited within the Sandgate Electoral District. (The majority of voters decided against prohibition.)

The first of numerous Concerts in the hall was one in aid of the organ fund of the Nudgee Methodist Church. Others were held to mark the Nudgee State School's end of year.

On another occasion, a Social was held in the hall by the Banyo-Nudgee Branch of the United Protestant Association.

Fundraising events, to augment the building fund, continued in the hall after it had been opened. Such events were commonly Dance and Euchre Parties. Similar events were held in aid of funds for the Sandgate Sub-Branch of the Queensland Ambulance Transport Brigade and for the Banyo Distress League.

Many family events were held in the hall. An early one was a Dance to celebrate Gladstone Steele's Twenty-First Birthday. Likewise, Doris Tingle's ‘coming of age' was celebrated. A gathering honoured the approaching marriage of Matthew Carey and Inez Ryan. Newspaper articles detailed the Wedding Receptions of Richard Harris and Mabel Large in 1930 and Harold Jones and Winifred Large in 1941.

Many Children's Fancy Dress Evenings and Balls were held in the hall. Some were held to augment the funds of St Oswald's Church, the first one being the first evening of its kind held in the district. Later ones were held by the Nudgee State School. The Grand March of small, costumed children must have been a delightful sight.

Meetings were also held in the hall. The Banyo-Nudgee Branch of the Queensland Women's Electoral League met there. In 1937, there were meetings about forming a Bowling Club at Banyo.

World War Two and Beyond

World War Two brought different activities to the hall. Classes for Air Raid Precautions (ARP) Wardens were held. The Nudgee-Banyo Branch of the Australian Comforts Fund held Musical Morning Teas and Dances, and Packed Parcels. Each Saturday, Dances were held for the Prisoner of War Fund. During and after the war, the hall was a Ration Book Issuing Centre.

After the war, the World War Two Honour Board was installed. For a few years, the hall was a cinema (Banyo Theatre), and was also a venue for Bingo, Community Groups, Playgroups, Self-Defence Classes, and Gymnastics Classes. And, importantly, Monica Bennett, with her sister, Rita, as accompanist on piano, taught Ballet Classes.

In April 1964, members of the Banyo RSL Sub-Branch became Trustees of the Banyo Memorial School of Arts. The Sub-Branch started after World War Two, and they held their first meeting in the hall on 15 August 1945. Sub-Branch members acted as Trustees until 30 June 1993. On 01 July 1993, members of the Nundah and Districts Youth Club became the Trustees.

During the nineteen nineties, a series of community meetings were held to determine the future of the Banyo Memorial Hall. The Youth Club moved out of the hall by March 1997, because of its dilapidated condition. At a public meeting in May 1998, Banyo residents voted for the hall to be demolished. That was done by the end of October 1998.

In 2001, the land occupied by the former Banyo Memorial Hall was sold. Two years prior to that, the State Government undertook that the money from the sale would be available for a community facility. The money was transferred to the Brisbane City Council in 2011, and Banyo residents decided that the money should be used to build a large bandstand. The Bandstand was built in Banyo Memorial Park in 2013, and the façade, as well as the internal murals, capture for the community lasting, visual memories of the hall that the bandstand replaces.

 Looking forward to Banyo Community Carols 2023

more information will be provided closer to the event date. 

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