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Bronte RSL Closes Its Doors Indefinitely

By Dan Hutton on July 5, 2012 in News

Photo: Grant Brooks

It’s no secret that a number of licensed clubs across the state are struggling to stay afloat.

And while the Eastern Suburbs appears to be flush with cash, the local clubs haven’t been immune to the difficulties being faced statewide.

One club that has felt the full force of the industry downturn, as well as uncertainty about the future of its premises courtesy of a pending development proposal by its sub-branch, is the Bronte RSL Club, which has been left with no other option than to close its doors indefinitely.

“Due to the decline of the NSW club industry overall and the development proposal by the sub-branch, the board decided it was better to close now than try and ride the wave of uncertainty with a chance of becoming insolvent,” Club president Duncan Horscoft said.

The Bronte RSL started as an old naval tin shed in 1946 on a sandstone quarry.

It was set up as a meeting place for Diggers after WWII (similar to the Men’s Sheds of today) before a fire on Father’s Day in 1970 razed the building to the ground. Unbelievably, during the rebuilding it burned down again!

The club provides support for junior football sides, netball teams, swimming clubs and the Bronte Surf Club.

In its halcyon days there were regular dances held there where many of the locals met their respective spouses.

At this stage, the long-term future of the Bronte RSL remains uncertain. The Bronte RSL Sub-Branch, which owns the building and leases it to the Bronte RSL Club Ltd, is looking to develop the current site. As far as the Club Ltd board knows (or have been told) the new development will include units, a fruit market (rumoured to be Harris Farm Markets), a café/restaurant, as well as approximately 800 square metres allocated for a new club venue, though they have not been guaranteed it will be an RSL.

“We are looking to the future and if what the sub-branch tells us is true and a new building comes into fruition in the next ‘three years or so’ we hope to use our remaining assets to come back stronger than ever, albeit in a much more reduced format.”

In the meantime, with high rents, maintenance costs and insurance fees, combined with dwindling patronage, the RSL Club has little option but to cease operations, though existing businesses including a gym and physiotherapist that operate from within the RSL building will remain continue to run until the development begins.

Numerous Bronte locals were said to be very sad when they heard the doors would shut, as many had fond memories of going to the club dating back to when they were youngsters. One patron said he was a member there when he was only 18, even though laws at the time prevented anyone under 21 from becoming a member of a licensed club.

“It was a difficult decision to make, and sad for everyone involved, but it was a decision that had to be made in an effort to move forward with the times,” Horscroft lamented.


  1. Hi…Googled Bronte RSL i have lost contact with a really good friend of mine called Michelle bolger…I live in the uk,and the last time i heard from her was 5-6 years ago…I know Michelle worked at bronte RSL for many years..Please can you try and track her down for me and pass on my e-mail address….Many thanks..Sandy…

    Posted by: sandy | September 29, 2012, 5:30 AM |

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  2. I was saddened by the news of the old club’s possible demise. I helped to build the old club in 1946 ,Then I I llived in Trafalgar St.. & stayed in the Bronte area till 1977 when I moved to.the Central Coast. As a professional musician I played for numerous functions at the club.Now I live in an assisted care set-up.I lost my wife 9 years ago.
    I’ve just spent 6 months & two operations in hospital & am 92 but still get around .As they say

    Regards Bill

    Posted by: Bill Johnston | January 7, 2013, 2:59 PM |

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  3. I too am staggered by the closure, I have been a member for 50 years and the whole of my family also. My wedding was to be in the club in 1971 but the big fire stopped that. If something good can come out of all this, Great. It would also be great if somewhere their would be some influence to maintain the RSL movement.

    We all knew it as “The Friendliest Club Along The Coast”

    Lest we forget.

    Bill Henwood

    Posted by: Bill Henwood | March 27, 2013, 7:56 PM |

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