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History Month 2024

Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th May 11am-3pm 


Saturday 25th & Sunday 26th May 2024

The club rooms will be open to the public to learn about the clubs rich history and see trophies, memorabilia, largest car library in the Southern Hemisphere and much more


History of the Clubrooms The property had gone from a home to a restaurant to a nightclub and now it was time to transform into a car club. After well over a year’s worth of effort to secure the property, the work on the new clubrooms was nowhere near at the end. A new location had been found and purchased but the transformation was yet to occur. As soon as they moved in, the club was forced get straight into renovations. Being a restaurant for the past twenty years, the property simply was equipped for a car club. Amoung the changes needed was a car access point, library set up, office area, signage, lighting and other tasks. A few months after moving in, the club presented some sketches (created with the help of an architect and engineer) on possible renovations and sought after not only feedback but members who would be interested in doing the job. The biggest issue on club members’ minds was the car access point. Many didn’t want the move as they didn’t have an issue with the old clubrooms and had concern as to whether cars would be able to be presented at meetings. This was the first to be addressed and in May 1993 members were advised of the three stages of renovations. The first stage would work on the driveway and roller door to the then called Garden Room. The second stage, to transfer the office from the bottom floor to the top floor enabling the front door to be the club’s main entry point. While the third was just general improvements around the grounds. Having just purchased the property, the club was tight on funds, especially considering it was going to cost an extra $7,500 a year in operational costs. To help the additional costs and the renovations, the club hosted a small independent rental downstairs. In 1993, the Bridge Association moved in for several months while their property had renovations, adding to the club’s funding. Another source of income for the club came later in the year when a member discovered a series of framed Chinese pictures in the library. Originally, they were thought to have been prints but further investigation found that they were original water colours on silk. They were auctioned off with prices ranging from $75 to $200 (depending on size). Eventually, in late 1992 after getting council approval, renovations to 51 King William Road, Unley had begun. Almost immediately, issues arose. White ants were discovered in the floor on the lower level. At an additional cost of $4,000 the floor was removed and replaced. By March 1993, the renovations had come to a finish. Car access to the stage, an upstairs office, red wallpaper removed from the foyer and passage and much more had all been completed. Stage three of the outdoor work was yet to come. In the February 1993 edition of WheelSpin, then CEO Reg Sparks invited everyone to come in and take a look at the changes. He also thanked members Andrew Ford (architect), Woods Bagot and Kingsley Weber (clerk of works) for their efforts. In February 1993, it was announced that 51 King William Road, Unley would become a smoke free zone beginning from the 1st of July. The idea was first suggested at the Classic and Modern Section’s New Year’s Day Meeting and approved with overwhelming majority. As for the rest of the state, well it wasn’t until 1999 that South Australia banned smoking at indoor dining areas and 2004 until they banned it in enclosed public spaces, workplaces and shared areas. While this was all going on, the library volunteers were working tirelessly to get the Eric Rainsford Library up and running. The club moved into 51 King William Road, Unley in March 1992, however the library wasn’t to open until the 3rd of November 1993. Over that period, volunteers Shane Dunstone, Dennis Harrison, Daphine, Tania Bahnisch and Margarett Harrison worked to get the library ready. With the previous library being a fraction of the size, the library was after some shelves. After the State Bank collapse, Beneficial Finance Office on Waymouth Street were closing up and had a collection of book shelves available for $200 each. Being close to identical to the current shelves, the library purchased them. New chandeliers were also purchased with the original ones being moved to the library’s alcove areas. However, it was the new computer system and the sheer number of books that caused the delay. The Rainsford family had kindly donated a popular library system called Bookmark. Although a fantastic program which is still used today, the books had to be manually put in to the system. With five tonnes of books or five thousand books and fifteen thousand journals, this was never destined to be a simple task. Regardless, the job was eventually completed and at the November 1993 general meeting on the 3rd, the Eric Rainsford Library was officially opened. After the meeting, members were able to register as borrowers and borrow their first books. Since then, renovations have continued. Most notably, the Reg Sparks Room or previously known as the Garden Room. It was called the Garden Room as no body in the fundraising donated for naming rights but also because it was pretty much a garden when the club moved in. There was no roof, the walls were plastic board with curtains. Over time and thanks to the help from volunteers, Ray Mossip and Graham Juttner, the Reg Sparks Room was given a roof and eventually a ceiling. In 2016, another big change; the removal of the red felt walls. After the idea had been rejected by then-general manager Richard Blanden due to budget costs, Graham Juttner had to wait until Richard was no longer GM. Once the position had changed hands, Graham swooped in and ripped the paper down in both the Percy-Wein Smith Room and Geoff Berry Room. New carpet was put in and the walls were repainted. Once complete, the general manager’s office was moved from the motorsport office and into the Geoff Berry Room. In terms of room naming; the Eric Rainsford Library, Geoff Berry Room and Jim Gosse Bar were all named as part of the naming rights package from the new clubrooms fundraising. The Reg Sparks Room and Percy Wein Smith Room were named after both had been a huge importance to the club. The idea of the move caused many complaints including that from member, Don Fraser. During one of the meetings, he got up and yelled about the additional thirty-minute drink-drive home after meetings (having lived just right behind the Portrush property). One of the more genuine concerns regarding was whether or not the billiard table would fit. At the Portrush Rd property, there was billiard table and even though it was never used, it was considered a part of club tradition. So the thought of parting ways with it, was a nerve wracking thought for many. And they were right to be nervous. In the May 1993 edition of WheelSpin, the billiard table was up for sale with the reason of no room nor floor strength. It did however make it to 51 King William Road, Unley where it was in the Gosse Bar until it was sold for $800 in May 2012. Before it was sold off, it did get regular use; the library used it as a table to stack books on. One thing that has been overlooked over the years, was the name. In purchasing the Portrush Rd property in the early 1950s, the club first needed to do some fundraising to afford it. An event at Gawler Airstrip was planned where a driver by the name of Ron Kennedy was scheduled to compete. However, he was never to compete. On the morning of the event, Ron crashed his MG TC on a bridge and was killed. His father had the car restored before donating it to the club, looking for a trophy to be named in his son’s honour. The club sold the MG and made a smaller trophy but also named their new clubrooms after him. When 51 King William Rd, Unley was found, discussion occurred over whether the new clubrooms would be called The RJ Kennedy Memorial Clubrooms or what the property was originally called Mawson House. Eventually it was decided to go with The RJ Kennedy Memorial Clubrooms. This however, over years has been somewhat lost with Mawson House being the familiar name. Regardless of what it’s called, 51 King William Road Unley has been home to the Sporting Car Club of South Australia for almost three decades now. It has provided a central point for all car motoring enthusiasts to come together and enjoy a common passion and we look forward to seeing what the future holds for 51 King William Road, Unley.

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