History of Institutions in Bowral
Established in 1883 by Rev. Stanley Howard Bowral's Young Men's Association functioned for many years. After Howard's death HE Jones assumed control. The organisation provided entertainment and instruction for boys and they met on a weekly basis. On the 1st of August 1888 a hall was opened for the organisation, which continued to operate until 1914.
Bowral's branch of the Young Women's Christian Association was formed on the 12th of September 1888. In January 1889 a house was rented in Merrigang Street were the associations work was carried out. The membership at this time was 100. A property was acquired in Bendooly Street in 1894 with a new building on the land being opened on the 22nd of February 1901. The building became too small so the old house on the site was demolished to make way for a 2-storey building to be built; this was opened on the 23rd of November 1906. Group and club works are carried out in the building as well as it providing a home for business girls and a holiday house for visitors.
In 1914 a branch of the Red Cross was formed that was very active during World War 1. From October 1915 to 1919 a house in Burradoo was used as a Soldiers Convalescent Home. In 1919 during the influenza epidemic a temporary hospital staffed by the VAD dealt with the patients and the Red Cross supplied linen and clothing.
In 1922 the branch disbanded but re-established again in 1931. The branch became very active again during World War 2 and raised more than £20,000 between 1939 and 1946. Dr Jessie Freeman gave the society a property called "Berida" that was used as a convalescent home for ex-servicemen in January 1943. "Berida" was used for this purpose until 1950 when the Junior Red Cross used it for sick or convalescent children of ex-servicemen.
In 1919 a sub branch of the RSS and AILA existed and was active after World War 1. In 1935 £700 that had been accumulated to build a hall or clubroom was handed to the Hospital Board to help in the building of the children's ward. The branch continued after World War 2 but with difficulties, as it had no clubroom. The billiard room in the School of Arts was altered to be an All Services Club that opened on the 12th of November 1948.
In November 1945 a Women's Auxiliary was formed and has raised large amounts of money for charitable organisations.
In December 1918 it was proposed to erect a memorial to Bowral soldiers, sailors, airmen and nurses who were apart of World War 1. In April 1919 a meeting was held were Constance E Smith was elected secretary of a committee established to organise an appeal for the memorial that was to be built on the corner of Bong Bong and Merrigang Streets. A local architect H Sheaff prepared the plans for the Memorial. On the 4th of August 1919, the foundation stone was laid and the work finished later. The unveiling of the Memorial took place on the 30th of January 1920 by Governor, Sir Walter Davidson.
The Berrima Boy Scout Troop was in existence in Bowral in May 1918 with a committee to organise the movement being formed in 1922. The 1st Bowral Troop of Scouts was established with the body of 1918 being re-organised. Land located in Mount Road for a hall to be built on was donated by Mrs K Oxley and the Apex Club ran a Billy Cart Derby that raised £200 - £300. Only part of the clubroom was built at first but the 40 feet by 24 feet brick hall was completed in 1951and officially opened in February 1952.
In September 1928 the first Girl Guide Company was formed at SCEGG School. Lady David inaugurated the second company in Bowral in 1930 with the girls taking their vows at a ceremony held in August. In 1940 the second club was formed at Annesley. In 1931 a Ranger company came into existence that continued until 1942 and in 1940 a Brownie Pack was formed.
In December 1925 the Bowral branch of the Country Women's Association was formed with Mrs Westmacott being the first President and Miss J Macansh the Secretary. Land next to Corbett Gardens was bought in 1929 as a site for a clubroom, which was built by voluntary labour in 6 weeks with materials being donated by many people. HV Helm secured finance, obtained materials and organised voluntary labour W Pickles gave 5 weeks of his time to supervising the building of the structure. The building was opened in October 1929. It was decided to establish a baby clinic and rest room in 1931 and it was opened on the 20th of November 1931 in charge of Sister Hungerford. In 1953 and 1954 the building was extended.
In May 1930 a Younger Set was formed in conjunction with the CWA where they would sell flowers and seedlings outside the Empire Theatre every Saturday morning. It became quiet in 1933 but was re-organised in 1940 and during the war years raised money for different objects.
In December 1939 at a meeting a Rotarian named SK Barker, who was the first President, made a comment regarding those present concerning the objects of Rotary and it was decided that to discuss the methods of the organisation they needed to meet weekly. It was agreed to form a club in the town at a meeting in February 1940. On the 25th of May 1940 a meeting was held at the School of Arts where Rotary International granted a Charter that was presented with Rotarians coming from Wollongong and Canberra to attend the meeting.
On the 12th of March 1948 the Berrima District Legacy Contact Group was formed with S Cullen being responsible for its formation and being the first president with HS Lamond the Secretary. On the 8th of April 1949 the Charter was presented to the group at a dinner in the School of Arts.
On the 29th of March 1946 the inaugural dinner for the Apex Bowral Club was held with the first president being JL Price and the secretary P Christie. In 1949 Apex was interested in the Anti TB Association and it was decided to donate the proceeds from a Soapbox Derby to the organisation. Arrangements for a Mobil TB Unit to visit Bowral in March 1949 were made by Apex.
On the 13th of February a branch of the Soroptimists International Association was formed with 20 members and the first President being Mrs E Moore. On the 26th of July 1954 the charter was presented. Members made monthly visits to Berida during 1956 to mend clothes of the patients there.
In 1956 the Harbison Memorial Homes Organisation was formed to commemorate Doctor DTH Harbison who practised medicine in Bowral for many years. Over £2000 was raised during 1957 and it was decided to build two buildings to house old people at the corner of Moss Vale Road and Charlotte Street in Burradoo. Mr Sefton Cullen gave land for the homes to be built on. In 1960 the plans for additions were adopted and the homes were officially opened on the 30th of May 1959.
On the 19th of May 1932 the Bowral and District Scottish Association was formed with the idea to provide entertainment for local Scots and to assist local charities. During its first year it had 196 members and held 41 dances. Comforts were sent to servicemen, food parcels to Britain and deserving charities received financial aid during World War 2.