BAG History Group / The Boys Club
The Blackwood, Coromandel and Belair Boys Club
In 2014, the focus of the Blackwood Action Group History Subcommittee’s regular articles was on celebrating the 100 year anniversary of the 1914 Blackwood Magazine.
"Boys will be Boys!"
For much of the 20th Century the Boys’ Club Hall, located on the corner of Coromandel Parade and Garnet Avenue, was the social hub of the Blackwood area.
The Blackwood Boys Club had its origins in a discussion which took place one evening in July 1903 on the 5.25pm Adelaide to Blackwood train.
Boys will be boys, particularly in Blackwood, where the bracing effects of the climate seem to produce an extra supply of surplus energy … 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 Blackwood Magazine, January, p13)
A committee was hastily formed to explore how to develop this ‘channel’. Belair resident, Alexander George Downer, agreed to purchase land and erect a building, and make it available to the Club, rent free. Opening in early 1904 the club was known as the ‘Boys’ Club’ although girls and adults were also catered for.
Activities included gymnastics, billiards, a library, associated sports teams, debates, plays, dances, roller skating, a band and a choir. Most important was the Literary Society responsible for that ambitious publication in 1914, The Blackwood Magazine.
In perhaps no district of South Australia are the social wants of the young so well catered for as in ours, thanks very largely to that excellent institution known as the BCBBC. (Painter p18).
Club membership in 1914 numbered almost 200, (150 boys and 50 girls) at a time when the population of Blackwood and the surrounding area was about 1,000.
During the last few months the enthusiasm in Club affairs has been most pronounced … the patrons of billiards continue to increase, while the attendance at gymnastics … is exceeding even the wildest dreams of our optimistic gymnastics instructor. (The Blackwood Magazine, September, p2)
The galvanized iron hall remained the major recreation centre for the community until 1976 by which time it was in a very dilapidated state and was demolished.
In 1977 a new Recreation Community Centre was erected on the site of the old hall, then in 2002 the site entered the next phase of its life as the Baptist Hills Baptist Church and new Recreation Centre was built on the Blackwood High School campus.